Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) is the second reboot of the first superstar of the 21st century superhero boom since Sam Raimi’s hit trilogy and this time Sony (who still owns the movie rights) has handed the creative reins over to Marvel Studios and allowed them to integrate the webslinger into the Marvel Comics Movie Universe.
Tom Holland actually made his big screen debut as Spider-Man, once again a hapless high school kid just like in the original comics, in Captain American: Civil War, recruited by Tony Stark to be his secret weapon against Captain America’s rebel heroes. After holding his own in his big league try-out, Holland carries Spider-Man: Homecoming with the youthful spirit of a high school brainiac nerd with the fresh charge of superpowers he’s still mastering, the unseasoned hero eager to impress reluctant mentor Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and make the leap from the streets of Queens to the big leagues of The Avengers.
This film wisely dispenses with the whole origin story and reintroduces us to the rookie wall crawler by revisiting his Civil War coming out party from the excited kid’s point-of-view via Parker’s camera-phone. It’s a perfect entry into this variation on the Marvel house style, capturing not just the charge but the culture of social engagement of a high school kid, a YouTube take on superhero spectacle in the first person.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Warner) is the energized sequel to Guy Ritchie’s reincarnation of the world’s greatest detective as a smart-aleck action movie hero played with cheeky playfulness by Robert Downey Jr.
There’s a strange leveling that home video provides by putting Guy Ritchie’s big-budget, action-crammed, ADD-plagued Sherlock Holmes features next to the updated BBC TV “Sherlock” features, produced with smaller budgets and smarter scripts (reviewed on Videodrone here). They couldn’t be more different, and yet they offer two different approaches to the literary detective who seems to get a definitive revival every generation or so. For fans of the original fiction, the Benedict Cumberbatch Holmes offers an intelligent update of Doyle’s stories. And for the Hollywood culture of bigger, faster, more, there is this revision with Holmes as a rather whimsical prankster.
In this very busy story, Holmes and his brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) hijack the honeymoon of Watson (Jude Law) and his bride (Kelly Reilly) to save them from Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), and then head to the continent with a gypsy fortune teller (Noomi Rapace) targeted by Moriarty’s assassins to take on the master criminal’s latest diabolical scheme. Action ramping, silly costumes, and general mayhem ensues.