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A Disappointing Homecoming

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By John Black

2 stars

Spider-Man: Homecoming is a mish-mash of what’s right and what’s wrong with most of the comic book movies that clog up theaters every summer: The best bits are the ones where the main characters are out of their costumes and being human instead of manically flying around the screen being an all-powerful superhero. Once the CGI takes over, the movie quickly becomes a chaotic mess that’s barely indistinguishable from all the comic book movie that have come before. Because of the source material, and the studio’s misguided mandate that bigger is always better when it comes to summer cinema, the balance of Spider-Man: Homecoming is skewed far too much to the idiotic action side to be anything beyond a mindless way to spend two hours in airconditioned comfort, but thanks to the real actors there’s enough humanity in it to keep you interested and, for the most part, entertained.

Like many of its predecessors in the franchise, Spider-Man: Homecoming tells the familiar story of young Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) as he tries to learn how to harness his special ‘Spidey’ powers while at the same time lead a ‘normal’ life as a high school student. Hogtied by the cannon of the Marvel comic book character, as well as the five films that came before it, Spider-Man: Homecoming doesn’t really bring anything too original to the story beyond bringing a much-needed sense of diversity to his circle of friends and making Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) a lot sexier than she ever was on the printed page. Unlike the Peter Parkers that preceded him, Holland thankfully plays the part with a sense of celebrating his inner nerd that makes the character a lot more fun to spend time with, for his friends and his fans.

The only way a Spider-Man Franchise can truly separate itself from the pack is to give the hero a worthy opponent to battle against. One of the reasons that Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man worked so well was the performance of Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin/Norman Osborn. On the flip-side, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 stunk because of Jamie Foxx’s idiotic Electro. Michael Keaton’s performance as The Vulture unfortunately falls more to the negative side. When he’s being a blue-collar joe just trying to make a living selling alien weaponry made from the trash left behind in the ruins of that the Avenger’s latest battle in New York, Keaton’s a bit too bland to really convinces us he has what it takes to make the leap to crazed super villain. By the time he is switched out for a computer effect in a metal flying suit, it’s too late to make us care.

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