Spider-Man: Homecoming swings onto Blu-ray in high style.
The Production: 3.5/5
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a refreshing movie to watch – an openly colorful, fun romp through the current Marvel movie universe, as seen from the perspective of your friendly neighborhood wall crawler. Tom Holland plays the title character, bringing a nervy energy to his dialogue scenes as the beleaguered Peter Parker and his natural athleticism to the web swinging maneuvers in costume. The short version of this review is that the movie is simply a lot of fun and an easy one to recommend, particularly if you’ve seen the other Marvel Universe movies. And even if you haven’t seen any of those, this is a good way in the door. There isn’t much in the way of depth, or even much of the real angst of the main character to be found here, but it feels churlish to pick at it when so much of it goes so well. This is an easy movie to Recommend for rental or purchase.
SPOILERS: So here’s where we need to get into the history of the character and where all of this comes from. Spider-Man was created as a comic book character by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko back in 1962, with the main character of Peter Parker not a strong action hero but instead a shy, bookish teenager struggling to get through high school. In other words, Stan Lee created a character with whom comic book readers could easily identify. And then he had that character bitten by a radioactive spider, thus changing Peter into someone with incredible agility, danger sensing ability, and “the proportionate strength of a spider”. Peter’s own ingenuity and scientific know-how leads to the iconic costume design we all know, and to the various tech devices he uses in his new alter-ego, Spider-Man, as he happily goes to fight crime and have all the adventures shy teenagers wish they could. Of course, there’s also a tragic undertone to the comic, led off by Peter’s selfish refusal to help stop a robber – something that directly leads to the robber killing his Uncle Ben and teaching Peter the simple lesson: “With great power must come great responsibility.” So on the one hand, the comic book would show Spider-Man’s colorful showdowns with outrageous super villains while swinging from the tops of Manhattan skyscrapers, and on the other hand, the comic book would show the grim reality of Peter’s normal life in school and in trying to help take care of his elderly Aunt May. It was an irresistible combination, and it’s no surprise that the comic book has flourished for over 55 years now.
MORE SPOILERS: The current movie is only the latest one to feature this character, without even getting into the animated television series from 1967 or the infamous live-action television series that was attempted in the 1970s. (Although I should note that the new movie does include the 1967 theme music as the Marvel logo is run on the screen near the beginning…) In the past two decades, we’ve actually had no less than three iterations of the character. The most successful, at least initially, was the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire trilogy of films from 2002 to 2007, where Peter Parker starts the story as he finishes high school and goes through many of the beats indicated above, albeit in a stylized fashion as thought through by Sam Raimi. (I count the ending of the second Raimi movie to be the finest part of any of the movies with this character, in that it gives Peter what should be a happy ending with Mary Jane, and then immediately undoes it by showing her understandable worry as he swings away into the night.) That trilogy was all released by Sony before the Marvel Cinematic Universe really came into action, so there was no other interconnected situation in which to try to fit the character – yet. As of 2008, Disney and Marvel began building their larger picture, starting with the first Iron Man movie with Robert Downey Jr in the title role. Simultaneously, Sony continued developing what would have been a fourth and even a fifth and sixth Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire film with Spider-Man, since Sony had the license to keep the character, provided that they were continuing to release new movies that featured him. But in early 2010, that development stopped, as they still did not have a script and Sony wanted a 2011 release date. So Tobey Maguire and Sam Raimi moved on to other projects. There was a thought even at this time that perhaps the Disney/Marvel movies could now bring in the character, but that was quickly dashed when Sony announced a reboot movie called The Amazing Spider-Man, directed by Marc Webb and starring Andrew Garfield, which essentially just reset the character and told a new version of the origin story. After that film did well enough at the box office, Sony announced a whole series of Spider-Man movies and spinoffs, presumably to compete with the MCU – except that the 2014 sequel film did not meet expectations. At this point, all the future Sony sequels and offshoot movies were cancelled – save one – Venom, which is currently in production for a release next year.
YET MORE SPOILERS: Following the shutdown of the Webb/Garfield iteration of the character, Sony and Disney/Marvel worked out an arrangement that would allow Spider-Man to be included in the now fairly expansive Marvel Cinematic Universe, starting with a fresh introduction of the character in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. For this new iteration, now presenting Tom Holland in the title role, the character would go back to the basic roots of the story, playing as a typical teenager – albeit one with the various super-powers gained from that radioactive spider bite. Only now, Spider-Man could interact with Iron Man and all the other Avengers. For Disney/Marvel, this meant that they could include Spider-Man in their other franchise movies as needed. For Sony, this meant they could include characters, cast and story elements as needed in their own Spider-Man movies. Essentially, this was a win-win for everyone. As a result, not only did we get the appearance of Spider-Man in the Civil War film last year, but we also were treated to this latest movie, which serves both as a way into the MCU story and a fine reboot for the character. Perhaps the third time really is the charm.
EVEN MORE SPOILERS: For the new film, the basic story postulates that Spider-Man exists in the same Manhattan where the Avengers do. And, appropriately for Spider-Man, this story really is told from the perspective of a typical New Yorker (or even a typical New York teenager), for whom the Avengers movies are epic adventures one could only dream about. So the Peter Parker we meet here is not a super-hero or even that spectacular of an adventurer – he’s a high school student who has a secret. Of course, that secret involves having a couple of super-powers and a special Iron Man-made costume that provide him with plenty of extracurricular fun after school. (Where the Raimi/Maguire movies had Peter mutated to actually shoot webbing out of his wrists, the new iteration goes back to the original thought that the web-shooters and other accoutrements are all tech – some from Peter’s own ingenuity and some as gifts from Tony Stark.) And the movie does take a few steps to play things out as a typical, John Hughes-style high school movie, including the notion of giving Peter a nerdy best friend, as well as a crush on a girl who herself has a crush on his costumed identity. For the movie’s villain, the producers have come up with something fairly clever. Given the basic idea of combining the character with the MCU’s story, the Sony producers have been given, quite literally, license to pull what they need from the earlier Marvel movies. Thus, we have the Vulture, reimagined as New York contractor Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), who’s making his living scavenging the remains of the various alien tech weapons and ships left behind in Manhattan after the battles of The Avengers. When a new Tony Stark outfit pushes him out, Toomes stays in the racket, albeit under the radar, selling modified pieces of the tech and using some of it to create his flying rig as the Vulture. He’s not a super-villain in the standard sense of the word – he’s a working man trying to get a bit of his own back. Of course, his own ego and tendencies toward brawling don’t mix well with vaporizing weapons, but we all have our faults, don’t we? And yes, there’s a fun irony in casting the former Batman and Birdman as the Vulture – but Keaton really owns the part, and at times gets in a few genuinely scary moments.
FINAL SPOILERS: If the movie has a fault, it’s that somewhere along the line, we’ve lost the anchor of what drives Peter Parker to do these things. Yes, he’s a teenager and he’s having fun with his powers and Stark’s suit. But the original comic always had a tragic underside – the part where Spider-Man is forever an outcast, where no matter what Peter Parker does, he still doesn’t fit in at school, and where he’s forever worried that something awful will happen to Aunt May. For the movie, May has been reimagined to the much younger Marisa Tomei, and while her scenes with Holland are fun to watch, we never get a real sense of them as a family. In the one scene where they should be able to share a genuine, honest moment, the movie short-circuits it. And without that, the movie is a fun ride, but nothing you’ll remember for long afterward.
SPOILERS NOW DONE. IT’S SAFE TO READ FROM HERE FORWARD: Again, the movie is lot of fun to watch, and it’s a solid production. The melding of the Spider-Man character into the Marvel movie canon is handled with a lot of care and good humor, particularly the pile of Captain America (Chris Evans) PSAs, which seem to grow in ridiculousness each time they pop up. There’s a wonderful sense of seeing the Avengers from the ground level, and a wonderful sense of what it would be like to be a teenager gifted with powers and a special suit from Tony Stark. Jon Watts’ direction (and his script work as part of the group that wrote the movie) keeps the emphasis on Peter and the others as normal New York people, not as superheroes. Which means that the moments of actual heroism stand out that much more. Between that choice and the fun of the performances, you have a thoroughly entertaining movie and a worthy addition to the MCU.
I should note that this review is not only of the Blu-ray of Spider-Man: Homecoming, but also of the 3D Blu-ray. In 3D, the conversion done for the movie shows a fair amount of dimensionality, regularly finding foreground elements to stand out, particularly as the story goes into denser environments. Just as the movie’s surround soundtrack activates the rear channels with some regularity, the 3D also works to create a deeper immersive experience. Between both visual and aural effects, the movie definitely pops a bit – enough to enhance the experience but without poking the audience in the eye. Sequences to audition it with would be the Washington Monument scene (including the swing around the helicopter) and the Ferry scene.
The 3D and 2D Blu-ray of Spider-Man:Homecoming was released on October 17th, including a fair amount of bonus material on the 2D Blu-ray – a Pop-up Trivia enhancement on the movie, plus a gag reel, some deleted scenes, and a group of featurettes totaling about 35 minutes, and a little bit more. It’s a nice package, particularly if you’re a fan of the character and of the MCU. And the packaging includes a code for a downloadable digital copy of the movie.
3D Rating: 4/5
Spider-Man: Homecoming is presented in two formats on this release. For 3D, we see it in a 2.39:1 1080p MVC transfer (@ an average of 22 mbps on the left channel and 10 mbps on the right channel, with each channel topping out several points higher) that has the depth and pop discussed above. It’s also a fairly bright transfer, so I did not have issues with dimness, even though several sequences take place in darker environments. For 2D, we see it in a 2:39:1 1080p AVC transfer (@ an average of 24 mbps) that looks great. There’s a rich variety of skin tones, as well as dark environments punctuated with glowing alien tech – but the overall impression of the movie is that of a bright, primary color adventure.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (@ an average 2.1 mbps, but dialing up to 3.3 mbps in the big scenes). This is a strong mix, leaving the dialogue clear (which can be tricky with some of the adult cast – ahem, Keaton, ahem – speaking their dialogue quietly) but also providing a lot of room for music and surround effects. At multiple points, action begins in the front speakers and goes to the rears, and vice versa. This is a lot of fun to hear, and it makes for a fine reference audio track. Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are also available in Spanish and French. An English DVS track is also available.
Special Features: 3.5/5
Spider-Man: Homecoming comes with a good helping of bonus features, particularly in today’s environment where this stuff is regularly scaled back. So here we have a Pop-Up Trivia track to accompany the movie, and then there’s a gag reel, 10 deleted or extended scenes, and over a half hour of featurette material, plus a little more to round it out.
The Spidey Study Guide – Here’s a throwback to the old-school Pop-Up Trivia. From what I can tell, this is a separate digital file of the movie, only with the pop-up factoids providing the chapter breaks. If you watch the movie in this mode, you can chapter forward through all the pop-ups to save time. Much of the material is good stuff about the various characters, as well as discussions of many Easter Eggs that have been planted in the movie – in billboards, license plates, graffiti, etc.
Gag Reel (2:17, 1080p) – This is a short blooper reel, mostly filled with line flubs of one kind or another, or cast members making funny faces to the camera.
Deleted/Extended Scenes (16:17 Total, 1080p, 10 Scenes Total) – This is a collection of deleted material, most of which just provide a little extra character flavoring that wasn’t needed. There are three areas where we get into completely different territory. The first is an extended version of Peter Parker’s opening home movie compilation of his first Avengers mission (as seen in Captain America: Civil War). In the longer version seen here, we see Spider-Man romping through Berlin and making it into the local papers. The second is a mercilessly extended version of the high school TV newscast, including plenty of material you probably don’t need to see. And the final one, which is the tenth and last scene in the bunch, is really just a compilation of awkward moments with Peter’s academic decathlon coach Mr. Harrington (Martin Starr). The scenes may be viewed individually, or via a “Play All” function.
A Tangled Web (6:11, 1080p) – This featurette covers the merging of Spider-Man into the MCU, with soundbites coming in from both the Sony and Marvel sides of the equation. Cast members talk about how this will play out, including Tom Holland and Robert Downey Jr..
Searching for Spider-Man (8:04, 1080p) – This featurette covers the casting of Spider-Man, including footage from Tom Holland’s audition for the character. In casting Holland, the producers realized they had also picked up someone who was a trained gymnast and dancer, which would come in quite handy once they got into the acrobatics. This also would come into play in Holland finding ways to play scenes while in a costume that completely covered his face.
Spidey Stunts (5:48, 1080p) – This featurette gets into the stunt work, including footage of stunt rehearsals with Tom Holland and the stunt team. There’s a bit of discussion about how much of the stunt work Holland did himself.
Aftermath (4:47, 1080p) – This featurette gets into the details about how the new movie builds from the wreckage of The Avengers and moves forward from that. It’s here that they discuss how the current film presents the bigger superhero events from a ground floor perspective.
The Vulture Takes Flight (6:01, 1080p) – This featurette covers the villain of the movie and the design of the flying rig. Michael Keaton gets some time to talk about it, as do Bokeem Woodbine and Logan Marshall-Green, who play different variants of the Shocker villain in the movie. Michael Chernus also gets into the discussion, as he plays The Tinkerer, who is shown in the film to be combining alien technology with current human tech – something that of course results in the Vulture’s flying rig, among other things.
Jon Watts: Head of the Class (5:29, 1080p) – The final featurette covers everyone’s feelings about director/co-writer Jon Watts, who is shown on set to be taking more of a high school comedy approach to the film than a superhero adventure perspective.
Pros & Cons of Spider-Man (3:28, 1080p) – This is a quickie bonus feature where Tom Holland and Jacob Batalon (who plays Ned Leeds) josh with each other about what the pros and cons would be of being Spider-Man.
Rappin’ with Cap (2:26 Total, 1080p, 4 PSA’s Total) – Here’s another quickie bonus feature – 4 more PSA’s with Captain America (Chris Evans), where the good Captain offers some advice on things like illegal fireworks (They’re bad!) and the virtues of hot lunches and reading. Of course, things take a turn into the strange when we get to the “Your Changing Body” section… And isn’t this guy a War Criminal, anyway?
Photo Gallery – This is a collection of various images, ranging from on-set photos to publicity poses to conceptual artwork, presented in no particular order.
Trailers (1:38 and 2:45, 1080p) – Two trailers are presented for different video games based on the movie. The first trailer is for the VR game and the second one is a quick behind-the-scenes look at the making of the new PS4 game.
Previews (1080p) – A few high school related movie previews are shown from Sony’s upcoming Blu-ray slate. This collection is the same one that will play when you first start the disc.
Digital Copy – Instructions for obtaining a digital copy of the movie are available on an insert in the packaging. Next to that insert is another one, detailing various other Spider-Man products, including Blu-rays of the earlier Sony movies and a mobile app.
The film is subtitled in English, French and Spanish. The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a genuinely entertaining movie that brings Spider-Man fully into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with good humor and good fun. The 3D and 2D Blu-ray editions of the movie are equally compelling in their superb technical presentation, and in a generous array of special features included on the 2D edition. As a longtime fan of the comic books, and one who appreciates when a good adaptation hits the big screen, I’m happy to Recommend this Blu-ray in both incarnations for rental or purchase. Oh, and one more thing. You really want to stay for the post credits-scenes on this one. Just have some patience.