- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Marvel Comics‘ legendary web-slinger returned for his third cinematic reboot in a movie that charmed both critics and audiences over the summer.

Now available in ultra high-definition format, Spider-Man: Homecoming (Sony Pictures Entertainment, rated PG-13, 133 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $45.99) delivers a colorful and eye-popping homage to the hero and offers fans a chance to celebrate his immersion into Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.

That basically means a 14-year-old, pimply-faced nerd named Peter Parker (Tom Holland) exists in a world filled with heroic Avengers, superpowered villains and extraterrestrial threats.

Luckily, Peter was bitten by a radioactive spider and was imbued with arachnid superpowers. More importantly, he was noticed by billionaire playboy and the Iron Man, Tony Stark, who not only becomes his mentor but also lets him keep a high-tech Spider-Man suit.

After his brief mission in “Captain America: Civil War,” viewers find Peter tired of being a friendly neighborhood superhero and looking for more of a challenge.

It just so happens that Adrian Toomes aka the Vulture (Michael Keaton) is now in an illegal arms-selling business with his buddy the Tinkerer and a small group of bums. They steal old equipment and parts from previous superhero battles (reference the Chitauri invasion of New York and Dark Elf magic elements unleashed in a London war) and create dangerous weapons to produce a comfortable income.

The simmering, action-packed conflict between the Vulture and Spider-Man will take them across New York, concluding in a scorching battle on Coney Island that will have viewers exhausted watching the energetic action burst from the screen.

Full disclosure, I have been a card-carrying devotee of director Sam Raimi and actor Tobey McGuire’s cinematic adaptation of Spider-Man since its debut in 2002 and another iteration of the Spidey tale was going to be tough to swallow.

Well, I am happy to report that director and co-writer Jon Watts has me hooked. He has managed to create an ode to the hero from the geek perspective, filled with awkward and humorous teen angst as well as showcasing the wonders of a youngster realizing the potential of his superpowers.

He also loads up with those geek moments such as Captain America offering public service announcements at Peter’s high school, our hero helping his pal build a Lego Death Star or getting an overview of the Avengers new headquarters.

The actors made Mr. Watts’ task much easier. Mr. Holland as the Spider-Boy, more than man, is a joy to watch onscreen. The dancer, amateur gymnast and huge Spider-Man fan exhibits a boyish charm and bundles of energy making him the webbed hero for the current generation of younger fans.

Next, Mr. Keaton delivers a great, “regular guy” performance as the relatable and low-key supervillain who offers a workmanlike approach to villainy, wearing his fur collar bomber jacket and Vulture suit only when required and allowing his underlying, violent personality to only bubble up when provoked.

Just as fun, for opposite reasons, is Mr. Downey Jr. who really is Mr. Stark. His nonchalant personality and ability to deliver the funny line or a lecture to Peter makes him a welcomed co-star every time he steps into a scene.

Suffice it to report, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” offers one amazing, family friendly superhero film, equally nostalgic as current and reinvigorates a franchise that may perhaps become the definitive homage to our favorite web-slinger.

4K UHD in action: Despite the digital transfer’s upscale from lowly 2K sources, the movie looks fantastic on home entertainment screens with a color warmth and realism that will catch an audience’s attention.

Especially notable is the chance to examine the latest red-and-blue Spider-Man suit with its dimpled, textured web pattern within the red areas; rubbery black shoulder strapping; bulging black spider logo; bright white eye goggles; and an appearance of webbed wings sprouting from the sides of the suit’s arms and attached to his torso like a bat.

Not so much required, but appreciated, is the clarity of the human face, detailed enough to notice the wonderful age crevices in Mr. Keaton’s mug (no disrespect), the acne on Mr. Holland and the pinches of sweat on actors’ brows.

However, the ultra high-definition realism really shines when Spidey, sticking to the side of the Washington Monument, looks down. It caused multiple audience members during a screening to have a mild case of acrophobia.

Viewers should also stick around for the ending credits of the film to enjoy a stunning collection of animation techniques used to retell the story. The techniques take full advantage of the color saturation afforded the high dynamic range technology.

Best extras: New fans should rewatch the film in 4K and turn on the “Spidey Study Guide” to get a dose of Easter eggs and facts about the production, characters and history of Spider-Man in comics.

A colored box in the corners of the screen pops up intermittently and offers nuggets such as ” ‘In Tales of Suspense’ No. 45, ‘Happy’ Hogan explains that he got his nickname at Stillman’s Gym, where the other boxers never caught him with a smile.”

Or during a scene in a science class “a keen eye will spot Bruce Banner’s photograph on the wall along with several real world luminaries.”

Owners also get six featurettes clocking in at 40 minutes in total that cover the creation of the film and feature interviews with Spidey’s co-creator Stan Lee, Mr. Downey Jr., Mr. Holland, Mr. Watts and many more cast and crew.

Finally, check out four full versions of public service announcements of Captain America (played by Chris Evans) that touch on avoiding illegal fireworks; eating a hot lunch; the importance of math and reading; and dealing with body changes, tooth decay and head lice.

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