Right off the bat, it is worth noting that this review will be a bit biased. Growing up I always looked to the character of Spider-Man for guidance. I watched the 90s show, played the video games, read the comics, bought the toys, and of course watched the films. This character means so much to me, and even though people may hate Spider-Man 3 or The Amazing Spider-Man 2, I believe even those films are not too bad. So how does this newest installment stack up? Is it better than the first Amazing Spider-Man film (I know people do not like it, but I think it is great) or Spider-Man 2? I do not know if I can make the comparison, but what I can say is that this is a truly great adaptation of Spider-Man.
Can’t you just be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man?
When looking at Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield, both did a pretty good job at portraying the character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. However, Tobey handled Peter Parker much better, while Andrew excelled at portraying Spider-Man. Tom Holland takes over as the titular hero, and I can safely say that he does a fantastic job as both Peter and Spider-Man. As Peter Parker he is nerdy, awkward, but extremely lovable. As Spider-Man he is heroic, a bit naive, but also considerate. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing both aspects of the character, and there was certainly a good balance between the two. What I love about this version of Peter/Spider-Man is just how selfless and caring he is. Even more so than the previous two versions, he goes out of his way to help others.
Without the words ever being uttered, he completely embodies “with great power, comes great responsibility”. All he wants to do is prove his worth to the world, and of course his idol: Tony Stark. This is where the film could have been bad. Based on the trailers, it seemed like Tony would be in a decent portion of the film. Let me assure you that he is barely in it. However, his presence is certainly felt throughout. After teaming up with him in Captain America: Civil War, Peter wants to show how he is good enough to officially join The Avengers. Tony does not think he is ready and urges him to focus on taking care of Queens from smaller criminals. This is essentially Peter’s struggle throughout the film. He keeps trying to prove himself to Tony and how he can be an Avenger, but he needs to figure out who he is as Spider-Man first. Alongside Spider-Man there is a whole supporting cast of high school kids. Everyone is solid, but there are certainly a few that stood out. Jacob Batalon stars as Peter’s best friend Ned. He is pretty much the comedic relief throughout the film, but there are a handful of scenes where he proved to be a worthy ally to Spider-Man. Tony Revolori plays Flash and there has been a major backlash to his casting. Flash is typically the big jock-type bully, but this film decided to make Flash more of a spoiled rich kid bully. It absolutely works, and he might be my favorite depiction of Flash on the big screen. Zendaya plays Michelle and she is pretty funny throughout the character. She is certainly a mysterious character who I think will have more to do in the upcoming films.
The rich, the powerful, like Stark, they don’t care about us!
The villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have not been that great. They have not been terrible, but not particularly memorable. Enter Vulture, one of the best villains of the MCU. Michael Keaton portrays Adrian Toomes/The Vulture, and he does a fantastic job. He brings so much menace to this character, and it works because you understand why he is a villain. Marvel finally took the time to actually develop their villain. Hopefully they keep this up in the future. The Vulture is no the only villain in this film. The Tinkerer is around, and so is The Shocker.
They are not the main villains so they do not have the same amount of depth, but they were fun to have around. There may even be a set up for a future villain for the sequel (Keep your eye out for that). While it may seem like I am gushing about this film, it does have problems. The whole beginning of the film was poorly edited. It goes from one thing to another without ease. There are also a handful of pretty cheesy moments. These moments do serve a purpose, but I wish they were handled a bit better. I also could have done with a bit less of Iron Man. I know I said he is not in the film too much, but whenever he is in the film he makes a grand entrance that takes the spotlight away from Spidey. Tony’s own sidekick Happy Hogan is in it quite a bit, and I would have preferred it if he was only in it instead of Robert Downey. I do not want to compare this to the films of the past, but I need to so I can talk about this film’s visual style. Compared to Rami’s original Spider-Man trilogy, or even Marc Webb’s films, this is a fairly bland looking film. There is nothing particularly inventive about the way this is shot. Such is the case with most Marvel films, but it really sticks out in this one because of how stylish Spider-Man films have been in the past (particularly with Sam Rami’s films). I also wish there was a bit more about Spider-Man’s origin in this film. I understand it has already been shown twice on the big screen, but I would have liked to see how Uncle Ben’s death affected Peter and Aunt May. There are some hints throughout the film, but they missed out on some great emotional moments. Hopefully there is a flashback in the future. I should also mention I wish there was more Aunt May in this. Marisa Tomei does a good job, but she is not given much to do at all. This is a shame because she and Tom Holland have good chemistry whenever they are on screen together.
This film does have problems, but it does such a good job with the Spider-Man character that I am able to overlook most of them. Nothing particularly bothered me about the film, I just had a few nitpicks along the way. It is simply a great interpretation of a beloved comic book character who has already had two other interpretations on the big screen. I look forward to Spider-Man’s continual involvement with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.