Before I went into this film, I was assured by my learned colleague Sol (who incidentally has very different opinions about this film) that I would not need to have seen the new Spidey's appearance in whatever that last Avengers film was, in which he is introduced. It's a stand alone film, I was assured; it's part of the bigger cinematic universe but that's not crucial to its plot. That was not entirely true. Yes, there is a plotline that works to this film only, but it is inexorably linked to its forebears. And, more crucially, there is no background story for the character. The origin story has already been covered (presumably in that other film) so no need to go into it here. As an (uninformed) audience member I am presented with a young kid who, for some unknown reason, has an assortment of powers and is pally with Iron Man.
Of course, I know what his back story is because I've seen it twice before and as we have seen with the endless Batman reboots, seeing the same childhood trauma over and over again does get exceedingly boring. The correct answer to that is not to skip the origin story altogether, but to come up with some new characters. Stop making the same god damn film!
Anyway, bearing in mind that I have already seen this film five times with different actors, what did I take from it? Well, the kid is a bit younger here, 15, and that gives it a slightly different spin. Peter Parker is supposed to be a young character and of course the underlying theme of Spider-Man has always been a coming of age story. Making him more of an adolescent allows for the longer format that they're playing with here in that he will be able to grow more slowly and mature over the course of several years in his own films and other Marvel pieces. That might pay off nicely as it goes along and it does at least make the feel of this film slightly different. He is just a kid and he is being treated like a kid. And teens really hate that. Very identifiable.
The plot, however, is as you were. Don't expect anything new. There is the love interest, the bad guy with an inexplicable personal link to Parker, the bully... Oh wait, that one was actually different. They removed the now very much overused concept of the “jock” bully. What I like to refer to as the Biff Tannen type. And I have to give them credit for that; I'm so sick of that character type. Here, the high school antagonist is changed to be more of a rival, but is not written strongly enough to ever be a real threat to Parker's general mentality and comes over as more of a comedic afterthought than anything else.
One element that is definitely new is the comedy sidekick, seen here as Ned, played by Jacob Batalon, who makes a good job with a nice character that is simple enough to not distract from the main hero but also engaging whenever he's on screen.
Parker himself, now played by Tom Holland, doesn't bring you anything you haven't already seen and he is generally an annoying gobshite, quite similar to the Andrew Garfield version. He's far too confident for someone in his position, and definitely too cocky for the character that Parker should be. It doesn't really work in a development sense and it is also really irritating to have to watch.
Michael Keaton turns up in the latest of his career renaissance playing gruff old men, but as a supervillain he isn't very cartoony. Maybe that is for the best in this day and age, although the giant wings thing is a bit over-dramatic. Not to worry though, as the filmmakers just let that go, not attempting to give him any real backstory or character that might help you see him as a rounded individual. It's all for his family, right? They should have got Bryan Cranston to play him.
Ultimately, the problem here is that we've seen it all before. And only about three years ago. There is no justification for bringing this character back. It's lazy and worse, it's boring. He may well be better served as an ensemble character in the bigger picture of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but does that justify a separate film?
These big budget action films should really be popcorn fodder designed to catch a wide demographic. I'm not entirely convinced of this marketing strategy of tying them all together. I think it will eventually alienate the wider audience who may have missed a few pieces here and there and we shall see ticket sales dwindling as we get deeper and deeper in. I have a low tolerance for this nonsense anyway, but I think others will join me sooner rather than later. I'm calling it now, cinematic universes will come and go. It might take them another fifteen years to work that out, but it will happen.
Oh, this again? Yawn. 5/10