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WHAT'S NEW AT THE MOVIES?
This Spidey gets the job done.
Clearly out to snag a newer generation of fans in its web, this re-vamped chapter stars a terrific Tom Holland as the exuberant teen with special powers that are, at times, as ungainly as he is. It’s a kick to watch this young man, both the actor and the character, play with the limits: it’s fun watching Spidey learn to be Spidey. Once the more serious third act begins, and we are in more super-hero familiar territory, we know this guy’s got his sticky stuff together and the franchise is in good shape.
It’s refreshing to see this take on the formerly introspective and angst-ridden young man with a story. Purists might miss the heavy-weighs-the-head stuff that, admittedly, did make the earlier films more interesting, but in these times, and considering the intended goal of reaching new eyes and ears, this more pure fun approach isn’t a bad way to go. Not that the filmmakers don’t take a moment or two to make a few (even more fun to me) points of their own.
While there are the obligatory good guys and bad guys, spiffy special effects and references to Peter Parker’s classic story, this fun adventure also packs a smart, subtle punch or two along the way. Peter is a not so typical, typical teen age boy. The girl he finds irresistible is the definitely irresistible Liz, played by a lovely Laura Harrier. Nobody says a word about the fact that he’s white and she’s not. Peter’s best bud is the super Jacob Batalon, Hawaiian born and of Philippine descent. Why not? And when the kids go on a field trip to Washington, not only are we reminded of that fact that the Washington Monument was built by slaves, but their teacher’s all in on their idea of protesting that, referring to protests as a vital part of American history. If you have a problem with any of the above, this movie makes it clear it doesn’t care. Or, maybe it does. And it wants you to get with the program.
And despite the fact that the opening scene involves both Tyne Daly and the Rolling Stones, this is not your father’s Spiderman. While veterans Michael Keaton, Robert Downey, Jr, Jon Favreau and a mysteriously underused Marisa Tomei all appear, this is a movie about and pretty much for the kids. And they’re all terrific. But, hands down, the scene stealer is the flat out wonderful Zendaya, who steals every scene she’s in and genuinely made me LOL. Super stuff, indeed.