Tobey Maguire's Spiderman series had two superb installments and one awful one. Andrew Garfield's Spiderman had one good installment and one godawful one. So far Tom Holland's Spiderman has one installment and it's pretty damn good.
This one is all about the fun.
Some mild spoilers.
After a clever opening that ties this film to both the events of The Avengers film and Captain America : Civil War we get to meet Peter Parker properly. He's a nerdy and intelligent 15 year old high school kid who has had a taste of being a superhero and wants more. But the Avengers are off doing their global/intergalactic/falling out thing so he settles for being the friendly neighbourhood Spiderman, solving petty crime and trying to keep his secret from his Aunt May and his best friend Ned. But when thieves with (literally) out of this world weaponry go on a crime spree he sees his chance to join the big league of crime fighting.
This was a highly entertaining film. Far more down to earth, mostly, than the other Marvel films and all the more enjoyable for it. The first hour is as good as any Marvel film, just sheer fun and flat out funny. It sort of reminded me of a far less dirty Superbad but with added webslinging. We see Peter failing miserably at the social side of high school but still being pure lovable at the same time. His friend is great and there's a few welcome changes from the past Spiderman films, involving the girl he fancies and the school dickhead. However I felt the film lost some of it's charm around the halfway point due to an injection of technology and a sluggish flabby middle but happily it rallies itself up again pretty sharpish.
Tom Holland is a joy as Peter Parker. He's exactly like his comic book counterpart. Silly, childish, full of fun and mischief, and quite frankly amazed with what life has handed him. You feel for him instantly. He's exactly like the people we knew in school. As good as Tobey Maguire was he was far too old for the role. Tom is 21 but looks 15. He looks the part. Michael Keaton is the baddie of the piece. He's great, he's always great. He adds heft to the film as a down to earth, much more grounded villain than we are used to in the MCU. Marisa Tomei makes the most of a smaller role as Aunt May. She's good in the few scenes she has and gets a very funny scene right at the end of the film. Hopefully we'll see more of her in the next film. Jacob Batalon is hilarious as Ned. He gets most of the best lines in the film and even his own little heroic moment. There's a great supporting cast too of recognisable TV faces. Martin Starr, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly and Hannibal Buress all add to the fun.
One of my favourite things about this is they don't feel the need to go through the rigmarole of how Peter got his powers. It's been done numerous times, we all know and thankfully isn't gone through again. Well it is but it's dealt with in one line of dialogue. Nice and refreshing.
OK a few downsides. The lack of danger is annoying. If you've seen the trailers you'll know another famous Marvel character appears in this. With him in the background ready to save Spidey we lose some tension in the film, knowing they'll be there to save the day. The lack of Aunt May annoyed me too. She's a massive part of Peter's life and she gets feck all screen time here. Why hire an actress as good as Marisa Tomei and then waste her? Maybe she had a load of scenes deleted, who knows, still annoying. She is good when she appears though, which makes it worse! And then there's the climax. The climax is always the weak point in modern superhero films. It's always loud, bombastic and an orgy of CGI. Every single time ( Actually I'm wrong, Civil War had its CGI climax 2/3's of the way in and finished the film with a low-key fight which we all appreciated ) and it's gets boring fast. Bang, bang, explosion, crash, bang, wallop.
Apart from those complaints though, it's a very solid re-entry into the Marvel Universe for Spiderman. And the new pick for Spiderman is perfect, couldn't ask for better. Plus a few cameos and easter eggs will keep the geekier fans smiling and nodding. Oh and as usual stay after for scenes during the credits.
A fun 2 hrs at the movies.