It's taken six tries, but Marvel has finally nailed the spirit of its most iconic character on the silver screen.
Leaping, bounding and swinging with the heedless joy of its web-slinger, "Spider-Man: Homecoming" is the movie that glimmers with all the qualities that attracted millions to the hero's comic book and animated origins. Ditching the somberness, poor CGI and overwrought melodrama of its predecessors, "Homecoming" aces nearly every possible aspect.
Leading man? Check. Spindly 21-year-old Tom Holland nails the awkward teen bravado of both Peter Parker and his masked alter-ego, building off the momentum he generated in his flashy debut as the character in "Captain America: Civil War."
Special effects? Check. Making the PlayStation 2-style graphics of the predecessors seem more laughable than they were at the time, the new film seamlessly blends computer and practical effects for a convincing transition from low-key story building to skyscraper-swinging blowouts.
Continuity? Check. Taking full advantage of the pact between Disney and Sony, the film borrows enough aspects from "Avengers" movies -- including a stellar co-starring turn from Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man -- to seem like a full-fledged member of the ever-growing, exquisitely executed movie family. "Homecoming" is every bit as well-executed and crucial to the overarching story development as an "Avengers" film.
Filmmaker? Check. Director Jon Watts, who turned heads with his debut, the indie gem "Cop Car," brings his gritty aesthetitic and ear for rhythmic, natural dialogue with mega-budget resources.
With knowing nods to the hero's heritage, the movie drips with geeky joy for those looking out for its hidden treasures. It works just as well on the level of basic entertainment, somehow making the ludicrous Vulture villain into a believable antagonist, thanks much in part to the back-story and a grounded performance by Michael Keaton.
An invigorating joy from beginning to end, "Spider-Man: Homecoming" lets you feel Spidey's nervous joy as he ducks into an alley to change into his uniform and swing across the rooftops, chasing the righteous thrills of the Manhattan skyline.
RATING: 3.5 stars out of 4