Release Date(s)2017 (October 17, 2017)
Studio(s)Columbia/Pascal Pictures/Marvel Studios (Sony Pictures)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B-
Two months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, things aren’t coming together quite as quickly as young Peter Parker (Tom Holland) might have hoped. Tony Stark’s assistant, Happy (Jon Favreau) will barely return his calls, and the Avengers haven’t exactly mailed his membership card. So Peter does the best he can as Spider-Man, fighting neighborhood crime, trying to get through high school, and worshiping the cute girl in class, Liz, with his pal Ned (Jacob Batalon). But things get interesting when alien technology starts falling into the hands of local street hoods, technology that Peter gamely tracks back to its source: a blue-collar salvage operator and would-be crime boss named Toomes (Michael Keaton). When Parker tries to foil Toomes’ plan, he quickly gets in over his head, causing Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) to lose faith in him. So Peter must find a way to prove the kind of person he really is, not just to Stark… but to himself and those he loves most.
There are a number of surprising aspects to Spider-Man: Homecoming, including how down to earth the film is and how funny it manages to be. But the most surprising thing may simply be just how many different shades Marvel Studios manages to find for the films in its Cinematic Universe. Director Jon Watts and the screenwriting team succeed here in rebooting Spider-Man without telling his origin story yet again, choosing instead to join the character in his early stages already in progress. For all his abilities, Peter Parker is still a teenager. If he’s going to join the Avengers one day, he has to go through his apprenticeship period first… and finish high school. More importantly, before he can save the world, Peter has to find his own place within it. Peter’s friendship with Ned is exploited for every bit of the comedy you’d expect, especially when Ned learns his secret identity early in the film, but this happens so naturally it’s easy to believe. His relationship with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) also helps to keep him grounded… at least as much as any teenaged webslinger can be. Keaton makes for a solid, and even a bit complicated and well rationalized, villain. It’s also worth mentioning that composer Michael Giacchino pays nice homage to Spider-Man’s long history with his lively score.
Spider-Man: Homecoming was shot digitally on ARRI Alexa cameras in the ARRIRAW codec (2.8K) and finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate at the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. It’s been upsampled to 4K for this release and given an HDR color grade in both Dolby Vision and HDR10 flavors (which once you see will depend on your display’s capabilities). Given the lower resolution of the film’s digital capture, there’s a surprising amount of fine detail visible in this image, with good overall texturing, and tight definition. It’s a modest improvement over the regular Blu-ray, but an improvement nonetheless. Whichever HDR option you have access to, the result is a more natural range of contrasts, with deeper blacks, gleaming highlights, and much richer and more nuanced colors. The Dolby Vision adds a further measure of pop and flare from scene to scene, but the regular HDR10 shines too. Either way, you can enjoy the film with confidence without worrying that you’re missing out on anything.
The film’s sound is available on 4K in an outstanding Dolby Atmos (7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible) mix that really maximizes the soundstage’s full potential. The track offers excellent overall clarity and atmospherics, even in its softest moments, with lively surround movement and buttery smooth panning. The film’s set piece action scenes explode with weighty volume and bluster, all of it clean and supported by a tremendous foundation of bass. The overhead channels finish out the sound field with subtle immersion cues and extend the soundstage vertically during action moments, particularly notable during Spidey’s aerial battle on and around the Stark jet late in the film. The Atmos mix is smooth and seamless from start to finish, making this fairly close to a reference-quality audio experience. Note that additional audio options on the 4K disc include English Descriptive Audio, Parisian French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and 5.1 Dolby Digital in Quebec French, Spanish, and Thai. Optional subtitles are available in English, English SDH, Arabic, Cantonese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Dutch, French, Indonesian, Korean, Malay, Spanish, and Thai.
The actual 4K disc offers two just special features:
- The Spidey Study Guide
- Photo Gallery
The Study Guide is essentially a pop-up trivia track that provides information throughout the film, while the Photo Gallery is an interactive slideshow featuring full 4K still photography of the characters and behind-the-scenes imagery. The package also includes the film in 1080p HD on a regular Blu-ray Disc that has the same Study Guide and Photo Gallery and also adds the following bonus features (all in HD):
- Deleted & Extended Scenes (10 scenes – 16:17 in all)
- A Tangled Web (6:11)
- Searching for Spider-Man (8:04)
- Spidey Stunts (5:48)
- Aftermath (4:47)
- The Vulture Takes Flight (6:01)
- Jon Watts: Head of the Class (5:29)
- Pros and Cons of Spider-Man (3:28)
- Rappin’ with Cap (4 PSAs – 2:26 in all)
- Gag Reel (2:17)
- Trailers (2 promos – 1:38 in all)
The extras are a bit glossy and not exactly comprehensive, but are still enjoyable and are fairly typical for Marvel’s special editions to date. Rappin’ with Cap is definitely the highlight, along with a look at the casting of the title character. Unfortunately, the Trailers are for a tie-in videogame and VR experience, not the film itself. Of course, you also get the usual Digital HD copy code on a paper insert and there’s also a pamphlet promoting the film’s official app, available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Ultimately, Spider-Man: Homecoming achieves the nearly impossible; it manages to re-launch this character as a part of the official Marvel Cinematic Universe and feel both fun and fresh too, even after two previous big-screen adaptations. Tom Holland not only makes a worthy Spider-Man, but he’s damn close to the perfect embodiment of the character, lending both Peter and Spidey a comic lightness and an earnest integrity that really works, particularly against the MCU’s darker and more “adult” characters. Plus, he’s got just a touch of Ferris Bueller about him that also suits him well. And Sony’s 4K Ultra HD delivers the film in very good A/V quality that should satisfy all but the pickiest home theater fans (the lack of full native 4K not withstanding). Recommended.
- Bill Hunt