When you start noticing grey wisps in your pubes, a lot of people might consider it time to give up on high school coming-of-age movies. Not me, though. Here in Whistle-Town, youth is a mindset not a number and I'll watch anything that ends during prom. Thankfully, Spider-Man: Homecoming, opening this week at the Whistler Village 8, is a high-flying, wise-cracking good time, and it ends during prom.
The title is also a double entendre. While this is the sixth Spider-Man film in the past 15 years, all of the first five were made by Sony/Columbia, independent of Marvel Studios, the comic book company turned Hollywood super-player. This flick sees the web-slinger finally appear in a Marvel Studios production (Homecoming, get it?) and he arrives just in time to energize the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Originally sprung on the public in the August 1962 issue of comic book Amazing Fantasy, Spider-Man has always appealed to audiences because he is a kid, a teenager blessed/cursed with super-human abilities, who carries the responsibility of heroics but still has to survive the trials of being a nerd and a loner in everyday high-school life. Done correctly, Spidey offers a relatable, everyman's perspective on a crazy, supercharged world of greed, crime, chaos, and getting in crap from your aunt for being late for dinner.
And Spider-Man: Homecoming nails that ethos, then updates it for the digital generation. Forget the "seen it twice now" origin story, this one begins with 15-year-old Spidey's own live-streamed video of himself in action during the battle from the last Captain America flick. Add in some mentorship from Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.'s charisma is the foundation of the entire Marvel property), a slick, updated tech Spidey suit, awkward high-school romance stuff, neighbourhood life-saving, dicking around in the science lab and an uber-loyal best friend, and this Peter Parker truly feels like the comic classic who broke the mold in the 1960s by putting the kid in the spotlight. (Core fans might complain about Spidey's super tech Iron Man-esque suit, but Peter Parker's suit has never really made sense, give the filmmakers credit for trying to make it logical.)
Much of the credit for Homecoming's success belongs to actor Tom Holland in the titular role. Tobey Maguire was 27 when he made his Spidey flick, and Andrew Garfield was even older. Holland has just turned 21, and is also trained as a theatrical dancer so finally we have a Spider-Man who looks his age, but also captures the character's inert agility and flow.
With six writers on the script, including director Jon Watts (Cop Car), the plot and wisecracks in Spider-Man: Homecoming are better than expected. And bonus points for whoever convinced Birdman actor Michael Keaton to "do that again but different" for Homecoming's main villain (although taken alongside his 1990s roles as the best cinematic Batman, one starts to wonder if the guy just really likes winged capes?). Keaton expertly combines both the human and ridiculous sides of a dude in a costume who calls himself The Vulture. Best Marvel villain yet. Spider-Man: Homecoming is Marvel's answer to Wonder Woman — it's not as groundbreaking, but will definitely still make them a shitload of money.
Speaking of, what would you do if your best friend ran off with upwards of $25,000 one day, then turned up 23 years later looking for forgiveness? The Stream of the Week is T2 Trainspotting, which reunites the entire cast and filmmaking team from the 1996 classic about three Scottish junkies and their psychotic friend Begbie navigating what seemed like a hopeless time in a bleak place.
T2 can't recapture the frenetic chaos or social poignancy of its predecessor, but fans will enjoy it. The characters have aged well and director Danny Boyle creates a tone of bleak predetermination within his nostalgic edits, even while pushing for redemption and resolution. The friendship of Renton and Sick Boy anchors the flick as they embark on a legitimate and slightly more adult "one last scam."
For a generation who remembers author Irving Welsh's classic "Choose Life" rant, T2 is a nice swan song, if only to remind ourselves of Sick Boy's theory of life: "Well, at one time you've got it, then you lose it, and it's gone forever."
And then your pubes turn grey.