British actor Tom Holland becomes the third actor in recent years to take on the role of the boy bitten by a radioactive spider (following on from Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield) and he’s the best Spider-Man/Peter Parker so far, bursting with fun and happily missing most of the broodiness we’ve come to expect from the web-shooting superhero.
After making his first appearance in the Spidey-suit in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, school boy Peter is waiting for mentor Tony Stark (Downey Jr) or his assistant Happy (Jon Favreau) to call on him for help once more. When the phone doesn’t ring, Peter decides to catch local New York bad guys on his own and inadvertently stumbles across Toomes (Keaton), who is selling guns made with alien technology (left behind during the Avengers battle in Manhattan) and flying around the city in a Vulture suit.
Writing partners Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley deftly mix Peter’s superhero frustration with some neat teen moments straight out of a John Hughes movie (keep an eye out for the nod to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) as Peter juggles his slight nerdiness (he’s on the school’s academic quiz team and spends his spare time building Lego Star Wars models with best pal Ned) with his secret Spider-man status (he’d be the coolest guy at the party if everyone knew who he really was, after all) while harbouring a mega-crush on older girl Liz (Laura Harrier). There are some really great touches showing what life as a teen superhero would be like – changing into his costume, Peter always sticks his school backpack to a wall with his web for safe-keeping, only for it to be stolen on a regular basis – and it’s all conveyed perfectly by the charming Holland.
Of course, there are not just teen traumas but action and baddies, too, and neither disappoints. Keaton, who was an appealing superhero himself in Tim Burton’s first two Batman movies, is a believable and menacing villain (and, in a scene with him in a car that we won’t spoil, is just brilliant) while the action sequences – most notably on the Staten Island Ferry and at the Washington Monument – are fast-paced and slickly done by director Jon Watts and his team.
Of the six Spider-Man movies made in the 21st century, this terrific movie is the best, featuring the most likeable Spidey so far, as well as some funny cameos from another Avenger (make sure you watch to the end of the credits) to add to the fun. Terrific stuff, don’t miss it.
Is Spider-Man: Homecoming suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
There is a very brief reference to porn, and frequent mild bad language.
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