Forget Tobey Maguire. Forget Andrew Garfield. Tom Holland is Spider-Man.
He blows away all past competition with a star-making performance full of endearingly hyperactive charisma and a formidable screen presence. He anchors the film’s comedy with the kind of fast-talking, wise-cracking performance Spider-Man deserves, and he’s brilliantly supported by Downey Jr. and classmates Ned (Jacob Batalon) and Flash (Tony Revolori).
His school is the kind of teen movie world that has a life of its own, with random teachers and pupils popping round every corner to nail one-liners and visual jokes. It makes for a delightfully relentless gag rate and one of the most purely entertaining films of the year so far.
Where Spider-Man: Homecoming falls down a little is in its dramatic side. No one wants to see a rehash of the Uncle Ben tragedy – by now everyone knows that with great power comes great responsibility – but without that framework, the writing team make a few story choices that don’t quite work. Some of the twists they offer are so obvious they render whole story threads irrelevant, and some are so brilliant they leave the audience clapping.
Ultimately Homecoming never quite sets the stakes high enough to push Peter Parker. That doesn’t mean a crashing spaceship would fix its problems – the scale of the film’s destruction is actually perfect – but Peter never feels truly tested.
Homecoming is so close to delivering a home run and one of the best superhero films in years, and it’s a very hard film to quibble with. It’s got an irrepressible, cheeky spirit, and two world-class performances from Holland and Keaton, the latter clearly back on top form and dragging a rote villain role to another level. You probably don’t think we need another Spider-Man film. You haven’t seen Homecoming.
CAST: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow
DIRECTOR: Jon Watts
WRITERS: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers (screenplay); Stan Lee, Steve Ditko (based on the Marvel comic book by)
SYNOPSIS: Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker attempts to balance his life in high school with his career as the web-slinging superhero Spider-Man.