Spider-Man: Homecoming Reviews Are In: Is This Reboot Worthwhile?

Tom Holland and Robert Downey Jr. topline Columbia Pictures' reboot of the Marvel franchise

By Zach Johnson Jul 04, 2017 2:05 PMTags
Watch: Tom Holland Spills on Tackling "Spider-Man" Role

Are your Spidey senses tingling?

They shouldn't be, because early reviews for Spider-Man: Homecoming are by and large glowing. Columbia Pictures' summer blockbuster centers on Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), who's just returned home from a stint with the Avengers to live with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). With guidance from his mentor Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Peter must figure out how to balance heroics with homework—which only becomes more complicated when Adrian Toomes/Vulture (Michael Keaton) emerges to threaten New York.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is in theaters Friday. Additional cast members include Jacob Batalon, Garcelle Beauvais, Hannibal Buress, Tyne Daly, Jon Favreau, Donald Glover, Laura Harrier, Selenis Leyva, Logan Marshall-Green, Tony Revolori, Bokeem Woodbine, Zendaya and others.

Marvel's Spider-Man been rebooted twice since 2002, with Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield playing the titular hero before Holland. Here's what critics think of Jon Watts' movie:

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

• "News Flash: Tom Holland is the best movie Spider-Man ever," Rolling Stone's Peter Travers writes. "He finds the kid inside the famous red onesie and brings out the kid in even the most hardened filmgoer. The last two Spidey epics had 'Amazing' in the title, but let's face it—both films stirred more apathy than amazement. The only suspense came in wondering how long and hard a franchise could be milked. It may be a problem winning back the comic-book fans, but after that extended cameo in Captain America: Civil War and this new solo outing, you finally feel that your friendly neighborhood web-slinger deserves to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe." Best of all, Travers writes, the "fresh" Spider-Man: Homecoming "is as high school as a John Hughes comedy—think The Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller's Day Off—in which teens talk like teens instead of old-school Hollywood cynics aching to sound young."

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

• "If the setting and story arc are mostly familiar, the movie finds freshness in its casting: classic supporting players and new additions...feel modern without being unduly, laboriously reworked," Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt writes. And in a city "where the average citizen seems to accept Avengers as a fact of daily life as common as a rat on the subway or a Starbucks on the corner, Homecoming's Parker is still consistently, winningly wowed by his own capabilities; he can't stop saying 'Gross' or 'Awesome' at the things that shoot out of his body (which, to be fair, is also just basic adolescence). But he can seem ordinary to the point of confounding the storyline, too—less a supercharged arachnid than an adorable puppy with special powers, or the YA dreamboat on an exceptionally well-cast Nickelodeon wizard show."

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Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

• "A franchise on the last of its eight legs is now officially revitalized," Mara Movies' Mara Reinstein writes. "Not only is this reboot zippy and fresh, it delivers more laughs than Baywatch, Rough Night, Snatched and, ahem, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 combined. Even the post-closing credits tag scene is whip-smart." The PG-13 movie "stays true to the red and blue," and while it's not an origin story, it is a coming of age story. "Like a typical insecure teen, Peter longs to belong. If he can just impress his mentor, he reasons, he can join the Avengers full time and gain instant-fame," she writes. Intentionally or not, Spider-Man: Homecoming "might go down as one of the most accurate portrayals of high schoolers in recent years."

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

• "This is the Spidey movie we've been waiting for. It's also the best Spider-Man movie of the bunch," Newsweek's Tufayel Ahmed writes. The screenplay "is tonally closer to the humorous juvenility that made the Spider-Man comic books and the 1990s Fox Kids animated series so compelling. Homecoming is colorful, bright and extremely funny. A Hughes–esque musical montage leading into the film's homecoming scene is masterful." Holland embodies his character with a "boyish charm," and when the action "ramps up to a big, action-driven finale, the stakes are commendably human," Ahmed writes. "Parker's boyish impudence is at the heart of the story—he wants to take off the training wheels before he's earned the right to."

Chuck Zlotnick/Sony Pictures

• "Spider-Man: Homecoming breaks away from the past movies starring Marvel Comics' signature web slinger in one particularly key aspect: All the best stuff happens when he's not in his mask," USA Today's Brian Truitt writes, calling it a "remarkable and refreshing first solo adventure" for a 55-year-old character. "If nothing else, Homecoming makes this very clear: Peter Parker is an unspectacular, not-that-amazing Spider-Man, but dagnabbit, the kid's going to be just fine."

Chuck Zlotnick/Sony Pictures

• "What's always been most appealing about Spider-Man is that he's a kid, if one who can spin big, sticky webs and swing from rooftop to rooftop, comparatively rinky-dink talents in the flying, magic-hammering superhero world. What makes Spider-Man different and, ideally, work as a character, giving him an off-kilter charm, is he retains the uncertainties and vulnerabilities of adolescence. For all his super-gifts and despite the weird and dangerous company he keeps, he is also a teenage boy—that's his Kryptonite, what cuts him down to recognizable human size," The New York Times' Manohla Dargis writes. Keaton, meanwhile, is "so very good" and "memorably angry" as the film's antagonist. "The Vulture becomes a narrative counterweight to Tony Stark's self-satisfied billionaire. But the Vulture is also the biggest enemy facing Spider-Man, who—as this movie reminds you—is a working-class kid turned superhero. Here, Spidey is eager to do a billionaire's bidding, partly because he's being readied to join the Avengers," Dargis writes. "The question is when Spidey really grows up, who will he fight for and why?"

Chuck Zlotnick/Sony Pictures

• Holland is everything the lead character is supposed to be: "Charmingly awkward, light on his booted feet, and youthful-looking enough to pass for a high school student," TIME's Stephanie Zacharek writes, adding that the hero "flips and flies through the air effortlessly one minute and falls with a splat the next. His bones appear to be made of rubber. He hardly gets hurt, as long as we're not talking about his pride. That buoyant naïveté is key to this Spider-Man, and Holland brings it by the jittery bucketful. The movie around him is sometimes glancingly light. Other times it works way too aggressively at being entertainment, rather than just breathing. But Holland, as both Parker and Spidey, is always fun to watch: His bumbling uncertainty and his boyish eagerness make him believable not just as a crime fighter but as a kid."

"Spider-Man: Homecoming" Stars Gush Over Franchise's Fans
Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel

• Spider-Man: Homecoming is "packaged like a fast-food menu of the things you love from Marvel movies: suit gags, winking humor, colorful showdowns, an identity crisis, two post-credit scenes (one being the last word on such teasers), and MCU cameos," The Wrap's Robert Abele writes, adding, "The most obvious novelty to this version of the webslinger's story is a hammered-home reminder that while Peter Parker is a legitimate threat to any supervillain, he's also only 15 years old. To that end, Holland's casting is a real plus, his fresh-faced buoyancy, hyper earnestness and general teen-ness a far cry from the too-old-for-high-school vibe of Maguire and especially Garfield, and placing this Spider-Man firmly in Hughes territory."

Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel

• "To say that Spider-Man: Homecoming is nice might sound like damning with faint praise. But it really is such a nice film, pleasant and amiable in a way that the archness of Marvel films does not always allow," Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson writes. "The six credited screenwriters have given us a Spider-Man movie that isn't moody or brooding, like Sam Raimi's perpetually overrated (sorry!) films could be. The tone this time is young, scrappy, kind, impetuous." The movie doesn't s feel as "unnecessary as Marc Webb's two recent Spider-Man attempts," either. "In weaving the Spider-Man narrative into the larger (like, really large) Avengers saga, Homecoming—a co-production between Marvel Studios and Sony—gives our oft-filmed hero a new sense of purpose, cynical and synergistic as that purpose may ultimately be. It allows Spidey access to the Avengers house tone, which proves a natural fit for his quippy moxie."

Columbia Pictures

• "In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter Parker is a superhero-in-training whose alter ego is just being discovered on YouTube clips, and it's fun to see him try to gain control over his capabilities. In place of the usual Tarzan swings through the gargantuan urban canyons, he operates in more compact spaces, shooting out his web in small targeted bursts. His suit, designed by Tony Stark, is equipped with gimmicks he's just learning about. Yet the way the movie deals with all this stuff is more rote than ingenious. It's hard to even tell where the suit's powers leave off and Peter's begin—or, judging strictly from Homecoming, if he even has powers of his own," Variety's Owen Gleiberman writes. "We all know the spider-bite basics of Spidey's origin story, but too much rebooting has now resulted in a certain vagueness, as if the film couldn't be bothered to fill in the logistics. That said, the flying action has a casual flip buoyancy, and the movie does get you rooting for Peter. The appeal of this particular Spider-Boy is all too basic: In his lunge for valor, he keeps falling, and he keeps getting up."

Columbia Pictures, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, ©2017 CTMG

• Holland's performance "is thoroughly winning even when the script isn't helping him," The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore writes. But the movie "enjoys a sustained success in the sequence for which it is named. Peter manages to score a date to Homecoming just as his crime-fighting alter-ego is at a low ebb. He seems, finally, to be about to engage in real life instead of rock'em-sock'em dreams. But comic books don't work that way, and a back-to-basics Spider-Man winds up in an unlikely but thrilling battle on the outside of a jet plane high above Brooklyn." The climax "hints at the film Homecoming might have been—had Marvel Studios execs and a half-dozen screenwriters not worked so hard to integrate Peter Parker into their money-minting world. But integrate they do, and the film wraps up with an ending recalling the incoherent, have-it-both-ways finale of Iron Man 3—attempting to embrace the 'friendly neighborhood Spider-Man' ethos while exploiting the rich-dude glitz afforded by Spidey's new buddies. Hang in there, True Believers: Maybe it'll get better the second time around."

Spider-Man: Homecoming will be out in 2D, Digital 3D and IMAX 3D. Buy tickets on Fandango.

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