For a re­view of “Spi­derman: Home­com­ing,”

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Ev­ery­one knows the backarch­ing twists that Peter Parker uses when swing­ing sky­scraper to sky­scraper across New York City. But never have you seen your friendly neigh­bor­hood web slinger face story twists like those in the ir­re­sistibly en­ter­tain­ing “Spi­derMan: Home­com­ing.” The new­est star sys­tem in the Marvel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse is packed with sur­prises, ex­cite­ment and quick­wit­ted laughs.

Peter ( Tom Hol­land) was reborn in last year’s “Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War” as an adorable crime- fight­ing teen geek. He was to­tally jazzed to be re­cruited as a ju­nior var­sity Avenger, join­ing Iron Man, Black Wi­dow, Ant Man and more for a super pow­ers mack­down at Ger­many’ s Leipzig/ Halle Air­port.

Near the start of “Home­com­ing,” we see a selfie video doc­u­men­tary of Peter be­ing flown there by Tony Stark’s pri­vate jet from his home­base in New York, his first air­plane ride ever. He’s thrilled to smithereens at be­ing in­vited to join the ac­tion, jump­ing with joy on­his ho­tel bed like a tram­po­line. That in­fec­tious de­light sets the tone for the en­tire film.

Spidey’s re­turn in a story of his owni s great right out of the gate. The film is sharply fo­cused on cre­at­ing fresh ways to frame its very fa­mil­iar ma­te­rial and build solid con­nec­tions to mod­ern cul­ture. The tem­plate of choice is a char­ac­ter- rich teen com­edy, with splashes of head- spin­ning ac­tion. Hav­ing just turned 15 ( Hol­land is 21, but passes), Peter is a good kid and a sci­ence whiz and is se­cretly super- strong. He’s just not a su­per­hero. Yet.

While Tony Stark ( Robert Downey Jr.) and his driver Happy Ho­gan ( Jon Favreau) keep their eyes on him, he stum­bles through in­ex­pe­ri­enced ef­forts to fight evil. That means help­ing el­derly women find their way around and jump­ing on guys who sort of look like they prob­a­bly might be do­ing some­thing that could pos­si­bly be wrong.

Be­tween those ex­ploits, he sits on apart­ment fire es­capes, looks at the Man­hat­tan sky­line and waits for an “Avengers assem­ble” bul­letin that never ar­rives.

Like “Ant Man” be­fore it, this is light, small- scale, bluecol­lar Marvel, where rip­ping off ATMs is high crime. And it­works.

Michael Keaton, whose great white shark grin has a peer­less tal­ent for mak­ing us feel ner­vous, then laugh, then repeat, brings his A Game to the bad guy part. His Adrian Toomes is no run- of- the mill galac­tic over­lord. He’s a small­busi­ness con­trac­tor clean­ing up the de­bris that­was left the last time the Avengers and alien evil­do­ers smashed the Big Ap­ple into ap­ple­sauce. Then a gov­ern­ment task force re­vokes his li­cense in or­der to keep con­trol of the busted alien tech weapons scat­tered ev­ery­where.

Adrian, deep in debt, snatches as­many scraps ashe can, de­ter­mined to find ways to re­pur­pose them and sell them on the black mar­ket. His plan re­sults in ex­tremely vi­o­lent con­se­quences and re­peated one- on- one bat­tles with a short­ish, slen­der, light- voiced do- gooder.

Keaton gives us a heavy who’s more am­bi­tious and greedy than text­book evil. He doesn’t have a world- seiz­ing mas­ter plan, a se­cret iden­tity or a vil­lain­ous code name. He’s just a guy. That’s ge­nius. Par­tic­u­larly be­cause he lulls us into the story about Peter’s home­made mis­sions in­ter­rupt­ing his ro­man­tic hopes and need to get to class on time.

And then we get the big­gest third- act sur­prise in many a year. It’s un­com­mon for a film to star­tle me so much that I feel like I was clob­bered in the head with a polo mallet, but this one got me for real.

There are a thou­sand ra­zor­sharp gags, and not many give you the sense you’ve heard the joke be­fore.

There’s won­der­ful char­ac­ter work among Peter’s high school class­mates. Tony Revolori from “The Grand Bu­dapest Ho­tel,” the per­fectly cast ac­tress/ ac­tivist Zen­daya and new­comer Jacob Bat­alon turn their light sup­port­ing roles bliss­fully funny. And Tony Stark’s sar­casm goes on hold for sev­eral mo­ments of gen­uine tough- love men­tor­ing to Peter.

It’s not a breach of spoiler pro­to­col to say what a movie doesn’t do, es­pe­cially when it brushes off su­per­flu­ous con­cepts. If you don’t al­ready know who Spi­der- Man is, you have clearly en­tered the wrong the­ater.

Sowe don’t see a spi­der bite or any sort of ori­gin story folderol. There’s no men­tion of the boy’s beloved Un­cle Ben. ( We don’t need a back­story on Aunt May, be­cause when Marisa Tomei plays a char­ac­ter, it’s al­ways clear who she is and what she’s about.) There’s no en­counter with blowhard news­pa­per ty­coon J. Jonah Jame­son. The clas­sic Spi­derMan theme is part of the score for only a muted mo­ment. We don’t even see Spidey whoosh hisway across Man­hat­tan.

The slam- bam overkill that has turned the Warner Bros. DC fran­chise into or­gies of ex­cess is held in check. Noth­ing is pushed to over­dose, not even the manda­tory dis­as­ter set pieces. Most of the cli­mac­tic ac­tion takes place around Coney Is­land, not in­de­mol­ish­ing the Fer­ris wheel and other rides, but as a mano- a- mano slugfest on the beach.

This is the work of a creative team that knows smart is more im­por­tant than loud, and enough is far bet­ter than ex­tra. This movie uses very good ingredients and uses them just right.

“Spi­der- Man: Home­com­ing,” a Columbia Pictures pro­duc­tion, is Rated PG- 13 for scifi ac­tion vi­o­lence, some lan­guage and brief sug­ges­tive com­ments. Run­ning time: 2 hours, 13 min­utes

“A Ghost Story”

Con­sider the white sheet. Such a sim­ple, ubiq­ui­tous item can have so many loaded mean­ings. Abed, a cos­tume, a shroud. The mul­ti­fac­eted uses of the sheet are ex­plored in David Low­ery’s “A Ghost Story,” a med­i­ta­tion on grief, loss and the essence of life from both sides of the veil. At times, this film is pro­foundly heart­break­ing, in other mo­ments, will­fully ob­tuse, but al­ways, there is the sheet, and what it sym­bol­izes.

What bet­ter way to fol­low up an Academy Award than to don a sheet and re­main hid­den for the ma­jor­ity of a film?

Casey A ff le ck fol­lows up his award- win­ning turn in the grief drama “Manch­ester By the Sea” with an­other tale about death and the cy­cles of life in “A Ghost Story.” Af­fleck stars op­po­site Rooney Mara, and the two are won­der­ful in the few scenes they share, as a young cou­ple liv­ing in a hum­ble, pos­si­bly haunted house. He dies in a car wreck and takes the form of a ghost, the kind of “Char­lie Brown” Hal­loween spe­cials — a sheet with two eye- holes — haunt­ing his own­home.

Low­ery re­verses the per­spec­tive of the grief process, to fas­ci­nat­ing ends. We are aligned with his point of view as a ghost, and pal­pa­bly feel his own sense of loss, of his life, of his wife slip­ping away fromhim as she con­tin­ues liv­ing. He’s teth­ered to their mod­est house, as he was in life, and as she moves on, he re­mains, through new ten­ants, fam­i­lies with kids, wild par­ties, philo­soph­i­cal dis­cus­sions on the earth’s ex­is­tence. It’s the cy­cle of life— de­struc­tion, de­vel­op­ment, cre­ation, crum­bling and so on.

“A Ghost Story” is shot in Academy as­pect ra­tio, a square frame with rounded edges, giv­ing the film a feel of a pri­vate home movie. It of­fers a sense of in­ti­macy that is al­most claus­tro­pho­bic at times. Cin­e­matog­ra­pher An­drew Droz Palermo does beau­ti­ful work, uti­liz­ing ever so slow pans, tilts and pre­cise dolly shots to gen­tly tele­graph story mo­ments and in­habit a ghostly per­spec­tive. The score flut­ters and swoons on the strings and drums, col­or­ing in the emo­tions in­ter­nal­ized by Mara and Af­fleck.

Aswe drift far­ther fromthe cen­tral love story, “A Ghost Story” be­comes more and more ab­stract, and there­fore, less com­pelling. It feels, in a way, like the cen­tral nugget of the idea could have been a stun­ning short film and the rest is ex­tra pad­ding to fill out a fea­ture length movie. A di­ver­sion down a his­tor­i­cal path seems to want to il­lus­trate the cycli­cal na­ture of time, but only serves to ob­fus­cate the mes­sage fur­ther.

The true res­o­nance of “A Ghost Story” lies in the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the ghost and his griev­ing wife, strug­gling to find­ways to con­nect to each other again. Their missed con­nec­tion, di­vided by the void of hu­man ex­is­tence, is also a beau­ti­fully sad and poignant rep­re­sen­ta­tion for the ways in which we all strive or fail to con­nect in the present.

“A Ghost Story,” an A24 re­lease, is Rated R for brief lan­guage and a dis­turb­ing im­age. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 32 min­utes.

Rooney Mara and Casey Af­fleck star in “A Ghost Story.”

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