"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Spider-Man: Far From Home

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME continues the charming “teen comedy, but in the Marvel Universe” vibe of 2017’s SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, but instead of situating it on the outskirts of the MCU it’s more in the middle this time. It’s pretty much an epilogue to the whole story that culminated in AVENGERS: ENDGAME, or a bridge to the next one. It starts by making light of the fictional tragedies of that movie (a hilariously awful teen-made video tribute to fallen heroes) and pretty much addressing everything I wondered about after ENDGAME (AVENGERS that is, not HIGHLANDER) pertaining to a world where half of all teens are five years younger than their ID says.

And then it’s kind of like it should be called SPIDER-MAN IS… IRON MAN 4. Peter Parker (Tom Holland, BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL LIVE) is on a school trip to Europe, and his mind is on a plan to tell M.J. (Zendaya, SUPER BUDDIES) he has a crush on her, though she seems to be spending her time with Brad (Remy Hii, CRAZY RICH ASIANS), who is somebody’s little brother who grew big and handsome while the rest of them were dusted.

Meanwhile, scary Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, THE EXTERMINATOR) is trying to get Peter to help a weird flying guy called Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal, PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME) fight giant water, wind and fire monsters called Elementals that threaten the world. (The fifth element is love, but he never gets to that one [spoiler].) Peter doesn’t feel qualified and just wants to stay with his friends, so he uses the excuse that he can’t leave the trip without everybody figuring out he’s Spider-Man. Then Fury uses the resources of S.H.I.E.L.D. to redirect the trip to wherever they need Spider-Man, giving the class various “upgrades” like excursions to Prague and Berlin in a big black bus driven by an agent named Dmitri (Numan Acar, THE GREAT WALL) who looks like a henchman in a DTV Seagal movie.

The trip is chaperoned by teachers Mr. Harrington (Martin Starr, ADVENTURELAND) and Mr. Dell (J.B. Smoove, TOP FIVE), who both get much more time to be funny than in the first film. There are also some good laughs from Peter’s best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon, BLOOD FEST), their classmate Betty (Angourie Rice, THE NICE GUYS) and Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL), the dick who constantly makes fun of Peter but idolizes Spider-Man.

These SPIDER-MANs stand out from the other super hero movies because they really are about him being a teen. It was exciting for him to save the world with The Avengers, but he truly just wants to be a “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” with enough time off to be with friends and maybe kiss a girl. He has relationships with various adults who expect different things from him: Aunt May (Marisa Tomei, THE TOXIC AVENGER) gets him involved in charity and packs his Spider-Suit in his luggage when he tries to leave it behind, Fury expects him to sacrifice his youth to save the world, Mysterio acts like a cool Super Hero Big Brother and encourages him to do what makes him happy, and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau, FOLKS!) – bodyguard to the late Tony Stark – encourages but doesn’t force his fulfillment of Tony’s belief in him.

The biggest IRON MAN 4 element is that Stark left Peter a pair of sunglasses that connect him to an all-powerful A.I. called E.D.I.T.H. that can plug into the Stark Industries databases, snoop on people’s communications, and oh yeah, control an army of drones housed in satellites orbiting the earth. Using them is a big responsibility that this kid probly isn’t ready for. Also the glasses don’t necessarily look good on him. A great moment is when Happy lets Peter construct a new suit using Tony’s equipment. He watches proudly as Peter excitedly moves around his holographic 3D models. And though Peter starts the movie wearing a metal suit with yellow highlights – the Iron Man Memorial Spider-Suit – the one he designs for himself is an almost entirely traditional Spider-Man look. He has to be himself.

I don’t mind that he has a few different suits. People always say they do that to sell toys – I’m not sure how much of a thing that is anymore. But it’s smart for marketing. It’s a way for you to see a still or an ad and instantly know this is a new one, not a scene from the one you’ve already seen. THE INCREDIBLES 2 is really good and was long-anticipated but to this day I see the cover for the Blu-Ray and I forget it’s even a sequel because they chose to make them look exactly as they did in the first film. Good move for the movie, bad for marketing (and toys?). Despite this necessity it’s always the traditional Spider-Man costume that’s the most appealing, so I’m glad Peter seems to prefer it.

Is this the biggest role Happy Hogan has had since the first IRON MAN? I guess I don’t remember the sequels well enough to know. It’s interesting that I have so thoroughly accepted Favreau as a lovable comic relief character and have to remind myself that he’s also the director who started the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe – the guy who it seemed like was pushed away during IRON MAN 2, who it seemed like it was a mistake not to get to do THE AVENGERS. They moved on but they didn’t leave him in the dust.

PRISONERS convinced me that Gyllenhaal is one of the more interesting actors of his generation. NIGHTCRAWLER backed me up on that. Mysterio is not really a character that fully utilizes that level of talent, but he’s fun in a traditional Spider-man character type of way. He goes sort of in the direction I expected but definitely not in the way I expected. Gyllenhaal gets to play a Superman type square-jaw walking around in his cape, but he also gets to use a little bit of that comical mania he has in stuff like OKJA and ACCIDENTAL LOVE.

There’s definitely some cool super hero shit. Peter swinging, jumping and climbing, in one scene without his costume, later in a cool tactical black suit humorously undercut by a ridiculous name that Ned gives it. Fighting off drones, including in a scene where he accidentally sics them on Brad. A little bit of badassery from Fury and Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders, JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK). Gyllenhaal with a cloudy fishbowl on his head. But it’s a testament to the talents of director Jon Watts (COP CAR), writers Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers (JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE) and especially the young cast that I truly was more invested in Peter’s love life and friendships than in his fight against bad guys. The most interesting parts of his super heroing aren’t really how he saves the day, but how he hides it from his schoolmates and does it on his own terms.

I mean INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is my favorite Spider-Man now, but as far as live action Spider-Movies go, these HOME ones really get it done.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 10th, 2019 at 10:23 am and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

19 Responses to “Spider-Man: Far From Home”

  1. I think I’m in the middle on this one. Some of it may be because SPIDERVERSE recently came out and was so great. The other part of is how the most compelling stretch of the movie arguably is post-credits. It was certainly what got my audience reacting the loudest. I’ve come to grips some with how MCU movies are rarely self-contained well and mostly feel like big budget TV, but doing that is naturally going to make me think: “you’re gonna show me that and y’all couldn’t have decided to make THAT more of the movie?!?”

    Mysterio works as a villain in a kind of meta way—is Jake G taking a swing at David Fincher? The fake news and unreliability of what you see which gets picked up later. And how so much of these movies is theater, formula, and performance with familiar beats. That works well for the middle illusion set piece, and maybe there’s a metacommentary about how average to poor most of the action set pieces are, but I’ve still got to sit and watch them…soo…..(and I don’t think the early ones make much narrative plausibility sense after the big Mysterio twist but nobody ever seems to care about that in these movies.)

    I think most people must like the awkward teenage romance between MJ and Parker more than me. It’s not awful, and they got some good laughs of it especially when Ned gets competitive, but boy did I watch this movie and wonder: why don’t they just have Spider-Man be openly gay? I think Holland said he’s in favor of doing that and I’m starting to think that’s what they should do if they don’t only care about Spider-Man making nearly a billion dollars worldwide or whatever.

    Maybe I’m getting old. I liked all the high school dynamics, and also found the teachers much funnier in this movie, but seems like I’m less enamored with that than everyone else. In fairness, I literally watched the hilarious ELECTION the night before, which may have biased my opinion and who knows maybe the next time I see this I’ll like those elements more.

  2. This one is kind of a mess, but it’s a charming mess. I laughed a bunch and liked all the characters, was invested in their problems, got a kick out of the action, but I don’t know. It definitely feels like the kind of movie that had like 40 minutes cut out of the first half. Scenes just kinda start and stop out of nowhere. It’s full of great parts but the vehicle they were welded onto feels pretty ramshackle. Like, I’m not exactly sure what Mysterio was even trying to do. In my experience, being a superhero doesn’t pay the bills let alone make you rich (which is something maybe Peter could have told him about if they’d ever had a chance to talk after Mysterio went evil) so how exactly was he going to make his minions into millionaires by defeating menaces they themselves spent millions of dollars creating? It felt like a real “Step 1. Build a holograph machine. Step 2. ?????? Step 3. Profit” scenario. It feels like the screenwriters got really excited about all these hot-button themes their villainous scheme had swirling around it but nobody stopped to think about how it might actually, you know, function.

    Also, they acted like Spider-Man was the only superhero game in town, but where the fuck are all the 40,000 Avengers we saw at the end of ENDGAME? Not one of them had their cell phone on them when the end of the earth supposedly came calling? I realize Falcon probably ain’t gonna do much against a lava monster but could it hurt having him there? I mean, he IS the new Captain America. Lava monsters are probably in the job description.

    Also also: When exactly did Tony set aside this billion-dollar defense network for Peter? There was like a five minute overlap in ENDGAME when they were both alive, and I didn’t see Tony signing any cards during them. I guess we’re supposed to assume Tony was just so confident that his time travel plan would work (not not confident that he would survive it) so he changed his will. I’m not sure how he got a lawyer to sign off on a legal document leaving billions of dollars in tech to a dead kid, but hey, he’s Tony Stark.

    Also also also: Peter and MJ have like zero romantic chemistry. Say what you will about the AMAZINGs, but Garfield and Stone generated sparks. I like Holland and Zendaya, but they’re not really burning up the screen. They have a good rapport but it seems like they’d be great friends and that’s it.

    Anyway, despite these misgivings, it’s still a lot of breezy, colorful, good-hearted fun, but I’m a little worried that the seams might finally be showing on this whole MCU thing. At this rate, they might only have 18 or 19 more movies left before the wheels really start falling off.

  3. This was a sneaky one. Just after watching it, I thought it was fun. But then I kept thinking about it for the next few days. I told my friend I think I liked it more than I originally thought because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. She asked what I was thinking about and it took me a second to figure it out. It’s Holland. I think he’s doing a really good job. I loved his performance of the stressed out kid who didn’t want all these responsibilities. He wasn’t a whiny little shit. He wasn’t a mopy Eeyore. He was just a kid wanting to go on a trip and kiss a girl. Yeah, I think he’s a good one.

  4. TIL Marisa Tomei was in The Toxic Avenger.

  5. I love the joke that E.D.I.T.H is; Even Dead I’m The Hero. Even dead Tony Stark presence is strong. I hope they will move away from Spider-Man being the new Iron Man, and let him by Spider-Man.

  6. Just want to say I’ve really enjoyed this season of Sheild. Ok bye.

  7. I agree about Iron Man 4. One of the reasons I didn’t like Homecoming was that Spider-Man basically acts like Iron man. Iron Man designs all his suits which have new powers for every situation is in. I’m surprised fans liked it because if you love Spider-Man don’t you want to see him use his own powers?

    I liked Far From Home more. The Trumpian “people prefer capes to qualifications” and manipulating Peter’s insecurities went somewhere, although he’s still using too much Stark tech.

  8. grimgrinningchris

    July 10th, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    GHOST-

    Isn’t that kind of the point of this movie?

  9. grimgrinningchris – I sure hope so. I liked Iron Man as much as anybody and it’s not out of place that an egomaniac like Tony Stark would find a way to dominate a movie he’s not even in (Even Dead I’m The Hero, indeed), but man, I’ll be glad when they just let Spider-man be Spider-man. It’s a bummer that Sony toxified his origin story by rebooting and retelling it so many times that by the time he joined the MCU, Spider-man had to be recalibrated into Iron Man’s protege (which, while it worked okay in these movies, is just not a part of the classic Spider-man character). Tom Holland is so good in the role that I want him to just be able to Spider-man around without being beholden to the greater MCU. I think/hope that’s where they’re building to and years from now this will have just been a temporary navel-gazy, victory lap, post-Infinity Saga blip, but for now it’s a little frustrating even though I liked this one.

  10. Not trying to derail the comment section, but since THE INCREDIBLES 2 was mentioned in the review and I just saw it a few days ago: I’m not sure if I would even call it “really good”. More “competent sequel that’s less memorable than a mid-lever MCU movie”. I don’t hate it, it was fun, but I even low-tier MCU movies are more memorable to me than this.

  11. Far From Home was The Incredibles in many ways. Not really the family plot part but the Mysterio/Syndrome part about not being accepted by the hero so he’s gonna go off and make himself a hero through trickery. But I did appreciate the, possibly unintentional, stab at big studio (read MCU) movies relying on CGI trickery to create a big “show” to woo viewers with regardless of how the “show” sometimes comes apart under execution. And Gyllenhall’s reasoning that “people will still buy this crap” even when the drones or the seems start showing! :D

  12. Sorry meant to print “seams” not seems :)

  13. I couldn’t help but laugh as Mysterio yells out “you killed my family!” (or something to that effect) during the big fight sequence. At the same time, am I supposed to ignore how that comment is a dagger into the heart of Captain American Civil War and other MCU movies as much as it’s a dagger into numerous other comic book movies? Some of that is maybe why how an actor’s surprise return aside, I got more into the Alex Jones satire

  14. grimgrinningchris

    July 12th, 2019 at 10:54 am

    Like I get everyone’s concerns…

    But I feel like a major theme of the movie was Tony wanting Peter to take up his mantle (probably mainly due to his inherent goodness and seeming inability to be corrupted and his intelligence) and Peter shirking that… from trying to walk away from the hugeness of the threat, to giving up Edith, to- while having what appeared to be unlimited options in his Spider-Suit, going back to a more classic suit with less bells and whistles and IM-y shit…

  15. This film felt pretty fluffy and forgettable, like the first one. Shiny, perfectly cast, fun, always threatening but never quite breaking through beyond charming, earnest, and plucky into something heartfelt and substantive. These films want us to feel a certain emotional connection to our heroes–to Peter and Happy and May and the ghost of Tony. I have to tell you that I can’t quite get there. Everything feels a bit too perfunctory, a bit too ruthlessly efficient to really breathe or earn its emotional beats, a bit too SCOOBY DOO and the gang to earn its character arcs.

    Having said all that, it’s plenty of fun, looks great, is perfectly cast, and I have a lot of fun with Peter and Ned and the Gyll here. I can watch Jake Gyllenhaal read the proverbial phone book and be fully invested. My favorite part is Spidey’s little Mysterio hallucination experience. That was a nice momentum of inspired, almost vaguely Burton-esque weirdness. Mysterio is definitely the highlight here.

  16. sorry, that’s “moment,” not “momentum.”

  17. Off topic, but the mention of OKJA makes me wonder if Vern had a cinema nearby playing PARASITE…

  18. So what does everyone think about this Sony/Disney split? I like the idea of a Spider-Man movie that is divorced from the wider MCU, but I don’t know if I trust Sony to make another live-action Spider-Man movie. I don’t think they could resist cramming Venom in there or adapting the Clone Saga or something.

    Anyway, BLACK WIDOW will probably have a post-credits scene where Spider-Man dies on the way back to his home planet.

  19. It’s inevitable that Sony will crawl back to Marvel at some point. We maybe get another good INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE movie, maybe even VENOM 2 will improve a little over the first one, but I can also see them losing Tom Holland over some typical Rothman shit and the overall quality (and their box office revenues) of their movies just dropping again, because the operation is now run by the guy who rushed X-MEN 3 into production and killed Cyclops, because he threw a hissy fit over Singer and Marsden making a Superman movie first.

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