SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

Here we are again-as has taken place numerous times prior over the course of the past fifteen years, yet another version of Spider-Man has swung into theaters with a new actor in the title role and a premise nearly identical to every superhero film as of late.  Did I enjoy it?

I suppose I did.  Tom Holland reprises Peter Parker once more following his debut in last year's Captain America: Civil War, again portraying the character with a wealth of high school-level awkwardness befitting Parker's age and the film's setting, while scenes of Spider-Man leaping into battle are fun, though much like in Civil War nothing all that new.  Michael Keaton, luckily, is an excellent villain, one you at times sympathize with and a nice follow-up to Kurt Russell's equally outstanding baddie in this year's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.  2, hinting that the MCU might have finally figured out its bad guy problem, while the supporting cast holds their own nicely.  Jon Favreau's return to the MCU as Happy Hogan is a welcome homecoming in and of itself, while Marisa Tomei as Aunt May does well, even if her performance, much like that of her onscreen nephew, doesn't necessarily break any new ground.  Furthermore, small parts are handled aptly by Hannibal Buress as Parker's gym teacher, Kenneth Choi as the descendent of Jim Morita, last seen in Captain America: The First Avenger and also played by Choi, Jennifer Connelly as Karen, Spider-Man's A. I.  and a simply adorable casting choice as husband Paul Bettany was the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S., the A. I.  of Tony Stark/Iron Man, while Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson updates the character with enough of a spin to make him fit into 2017 high school culture while still coming off as a bullying jerk.  Donald Glover, who once campaigned to play the titular webslinger back in 2010, has been given a nice, albeit also-small role, and Zendaya as Parker's classmate/secret admirer (?) Michelle is just fine, if a little drab at points-on that same note, Laura Harrier in the role of Parker's love interest Liz is similarly bland.  However, it's Robert Downey Jr.'s co-starring appearance as Tony Stark/Iron Man who, much like his role in Civil War, delivers a performance that just plain looks easy, owing much to Downey Jr.'s natural-born ability to play the part and the fun he seems to be having.  If Civil War was the darkest Iron Man we've seen yet, this is the other side of the coin, and I love it.  Plus, Jacob Batalon as Parker's best friend Ned is a nice addition to the cast, with playing the perfect sidekick and usually delivering some of the film's best lines.

Director Jon Watts, using enough directorial skills as can be found in a Marvel Paint-By-Numbers coloring book, is as average as they come-neither good nor bad, rather playing it safe for the benefit of all.  A screenplay by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley, though loaded with some decent stabs at humor and snappy dialogue, also feels somewhat run-of-the-mill, though score composer Michael Giacchino knocks it out of the park with a thrilling theme that might be just as rousing as Danny Elfman's work on the original Spider-Man trilogy that now can't help but feel an eternity removed from this new adaptation.  

I don't mean to come off as though this movie is a failure-far from it.  It simply lacks any truly memorable moments and almost presents one of comicdom's most legendary characters as, dare I say, somewhat tired.  Ho-hum direction and screenwriting don't help, nor do the terrible posters that comprised the bizarre pre-release marketing campaign, however Giacchino's score, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr.  and even Jacob Batalon all help to save the day.  I'll still happily see future installments and look forward to Spider-Man's continued appearances in the MCU, but won't count down the minutes until they arrive.  I'll simply wait & hope that they're better in some way, and that, much like this film's subtitle, much like the character's official inclusion in the MCU and much like the eponymous dance that only comprises a small part of this film, they truly make me feel like our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has finally, truly, at long last come home.