Here is the transcript for my review of Spider-Man: Homecoming, which aired Aug. 23 on Episode 80 of The Bridge, during the segment called “Five Minutes in the Film Room.”
On Episode 80, you can also hear my good friend John Lund interview Mike Oz, a baseball writer for Yahoo Sports and editor for the Big League Stew blog.
The Bridge is broadcast as a one-hour radio show every Wednesday night at 7 ET on Sports Radio America. After the live broadcast, the show is released as a podcast on iTunes and at lundinbridge.com on Friday. You can listen to the live show every Wednesday on Sports Radio America here or through the TuneIn app.
What’s up everybody? I’m Joe Baress and this IS … “Five Minutes in the Film Room.”
Before we get to the review of last month’s Spider–Man: Homecoming, let’s wind the clocks back to the dawn of the franchise. Sam Raimi’s Spider–Man trilogy kicked off with Tobey Maguire portraying the beloved superhero in 2002. The movie undoubtedly helped bring life to the comic book movie genre, and the second installment in 2004 is still seen as one of the greatest superhero movies of all-time. However, the Maguire iteration of Spider–Man came crashing down in 2007 with the villain laden Spider–Man 3, known best for emo Peter Parker dancing in the streets.
In an effort to keep the rights to the character, Sony released a reboot five years later with Andrew Garfield, 2012’s The Amazing Spider–Man, directed by the appropriately named, Marc Webb. It was generally well-received, but the franchise would soon relive the mistakes of the past, throwing another three villains into The Amazing Spider–Man 2. Although a success at the box office, the sequel did not live up to the quality critics and audiences were expecting.
Enter Marvel Studios.
Sony formed a partnership to make Spider–Man a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a move fans clamored for after the misstep of The Amazing Spider–Man 2. In 2016, he fought against and alongside the Avengers. Tom Holland was lauded for his performance in more of a cameo role in Captain America: Civil War, but would Sony and Marvel finally deliver on the character with a standalone movie? Let’s go to the tape.
Let me just say this up top, Tom Holland is the best Spider–Man we’ve ever had. I enjoyed Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield in the role, but Holland blends the nerdiness of Peter Parker with his transformation into the suit when he becomes Spider–Man perfectly. He’s funny, witty and actually a believable high schooler unlike his predecessors. We saw him handle this in Captain America: Civil War so what he needed to show us was if he could handle the dramatic scenes. Once again, Holland delivers. There are key scenes where he needs to show his emotions and go up against Michael Keaton and he handles them like a seasoned veteran.
Speaking of Michael Keaton, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his climb back to the top. After disappearing for a time, Keaton eventually returned to form in Birdman and Spotlight in back-to-back years. He was nominated for best actor in Birdman and both films won best picture. I love him as an actor and he once again didn’t disappoint as the villain, the Vulture. I give a lot of credit to the writers because his character is well-conceived in that his villainess acts are believable. He misses out on an opportunity to clean up the destruction of New York during the first Avengers movie and make a lot of money for himself and his crew because Tony Stark took his contract. So he steals the alien technology in order to provide for his family and the people who work for him. He’s not really a bad guy. He’s human. And Michael Keaton’s down-to-earth acting is perfect for the role, which makes Vulture one the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best villains.
From the well-known to the unknown, Jacob Batalon shines in Spider–Man: Homecoming. He’s hilarious as Peter Parker’s best friend, Ned. This is a character that if mishandled could be a huge blight on the film considering the screen time he gets. An annoying performance could have derailed the film, but Batalon fits perfectly and complements Tom Holland so well.
Throw in Robert Downey Jr., Donald Glover, Hannibal Buress and Zendaya and clearly the acting was a major strength of the film. Also, the screenplay was excellent, but there are a few hiccups. I didn’t enjoy the choices made with Flash Thompson or the fact that Marisa Tomei’s only purpose in the film was apparently for people to walk up to her and tell her she’s hot. Overall though, the writing and performances made the movie tick.
I also enjoyed the theme presented in the trailer, “if you’re nothing without the suit then you shouldn’t have it.” The struggle more so with Spider–Man than maybe any other comic book character is the balance of the man behind the mask and the everyday teenager. He makes mistakes. Much like Keaton’s character, Spider–Man is very human. He has to work through that throughout the film and grow. He’s only a kid and obviously when presented with an opportunity to go from high school nerd to an Avenger, a teenager would focus on that and mistakenly forget his other life and loved ones. It all culminates when Holland meets face-to-face with Keaton, which is arguably the best scene in the movie.
Now, it’s not quite a negative, but there are no memorable action sequences in the film. The trailer boasts a scene where Spider–Man is holding together a ferry with a lot of webbing, but upon seeing the film, it’s nowhere near the classic train sequence in Spider–Man 2. I also think the action is better in The Amazing Spider–Man movies. Not that Spider–Man: Homecoming has poor action, but when compared to other Spider–Man movies it becomes average and not very memorable. But if the focus was on nailing down the characters, script and acting, I’ll sacrifice incredible action sequences.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Spider–Man: Homecoming gave us the character we wanted, and surprised me with how much attention they put on the supporting cast. The script and the acting are also great. The action isn’t bad. It’s just not memorable. But Spider–Man: Homecoming is a film we’ll never forget.
I’ll rank Spider–Man: Homecoming as Tim Duncan in the sense that he’s not flashy, but he’s great, loved by all and the exact player any coach and teammate would love to have.