Spider-Man: Homecoming following the refreshing recent trend of Marvel films that function almost like stand-alone features (starting with Doctor Strange and continuing with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2). And while Spider-Man: Homecoming is perhaps more involved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe than the others films mentioned (knowledge of the events of Captain America: Civil War and possibly The Avengers is recommended), but it's far more self-contained than most of Marvel's homework heavy offerings of the past. In that way, like Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it doesn't fall prey to as many of the problems that has soiled previous Marvel efforts. Still, it's little more than forgettably innocuous fare; an agreeable step-up from the studio's usual output, but decidedly unremarkable and unlikely to win over those who aren't already on board with the MCU (and with so few people who aren't, why bother being different?).
There are six screenwriters (including director Jon Watts) and their collective talents could not assemble a script worth giving a damn about, but the engaging cast (and delightful Michael Giacchino score) manage to carry a lot of the weight. While perhaps more palatable in his smaller role in Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland is a likable and often funny Peter Parker and Spider-Man (in the latter role excelling beyond his two live-action predecessors, but falling short of Tobey Maguire as the former). The best scenes involve Holland performing alongside Robert Downey Jr. or Jon Favreau, both of which command the screen despite a lackluster script. Michael Keaton cannot kick the boring Marvel villain curse, although an added element of depth is supplied to the character in the last third, though it's only sparingly explored. Parker's highschool companions are sufficient but largely forgettable, and only Jacob Batalon and Zendaya Coleman make any kind of lasting impression. Donald Glover brings far more to the table than his thinly-written character deserved, but it's all to the pleasure of the audience. It's only a shame he couldn't stick around for more than two scenes.
Ultimately, Spider-Man: Homecoming is breezy entertainment, but almost instantly forgettable and fairly routine. The best bit happens very early on, with Peter Parker making a home video of his experiences in Captain America: Civil War. It's just Tom Holland and Jon Favreau acting alongside each other and it's funny and light without over-complicating things. And while Spider-Man: Homecoming is never egregiously awful, all of its loud (and uninteresting) action sequences just can't compete with the simple humor of its opening. The rest of the film tries so hard to be big and exciting (with one sequence clearly trying to replicate the success of the famous "train" scene from Spider-Man 2 and failing miserably) when it's at its best just being small and simple. When Peter Parker begs Tony Stark to be put on bigger missions, Stark replies "Why can't you be just a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man?" It's sage advice that the film doesn't fully apply, and results in its downfall.
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