Most super-hero movies are aimed at a certain key demographic, 14 year old males who will swell the coffers with multiple viewings.
With that target market in mind, why not make the super-hero in their image and voila we have the third Spider-Man. This time round, we have the much younger Tom Holland, taking the “Peter Parker/Spider-Man” role.
Setting the film at school age allows a larger character arc with “Iron Man” (Robert Downey Jr.) dropping in and out of the picture to act as mentor to our fledgling “Avengers” wannabe.
Marisa Tomei is cast as a much younger “Auntie May”, clearly a dream auntie to have as you negotiate the nightmare of high school. Peter only has eyes for fellow pupil, out of reach, yet possible girlfriend “Liz” (Laura Harrier).
Whilst not mooning over this possible love interest, Peter hangs out with best buddy “Ned” (Jacob Batalon), there to act as comic relief and help build a Star Wars Lego Death Star, when the local crime wave goes quiet.
Younger Spider-Man, is still finding his Spidey senses and feet and makes do with resolving some local issues, which is a come-down from his “Avengers” debut in Berlin, where he helped kicked monster butt.
All superheroes need a nemesis and ironically “Adrian Toomes/Vulture” is the perfect choice. With Keaton riffing on both his own super hero days as Batman and his more recent “Birdman”.
Vulture has good reason to be upset and after all is only providing for his family. Albeit by selling weapons powered by cast off alien technology, scavenged from the mess made in New York during one of the earlier super-hero scraps.
Holland is a good choice, after showing great promise in his earlier films, he is both vulnerable, yet cocky and can only continue to grow as an actor.
Harrier is bit bland in what is a thankless role but at least allows some Spidey adolescent “hopeless with girls” comedy.
The effects as you would expect are good, clearly mostly CGI but this has always been the case with Spider-Man. There is only so much wire work you can practically carry off safely.
The story takes a surprising turn which adds some drama and Downey-Junior does his usual Stark/Iron Man thing and Jon Favreau as “Happy Hogan” gets some deadpan lines.
Overall this is an exquisitely tooled commercial entertainment, like a fine Swiss Watch, laser targeted to the audience. This no criticism, as the film hits all the set piece way points with some style and the tone is balanced just right, albeit skewing slightly younger than before.
Director Jon Watts has landed this difficult transition movie and provides a solid platform for at least two more standalone movies. With guest appearances in any Avenger ensemble films, Holland is going to be busy.
One of the better Spider-Man movies and clearly sets up a sequel which will no doubt arrive on the Marvel Production line of films in 2019.