Spider-Man: Far From Home

June 28, 2019 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal
Directed by: Jon Watts (“Spider-Man: Homecoming”)
Written by: Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers (“Spider-Man: Homecoming”)

Here we are, in the first visit back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” namely the return of everyone disappeared in “the snap” and death of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), and we’re spending that time with his protégé (and heir apparent?) Peter Parker (Tom Holland) in “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” With Iron Man gone and Captain America now a nonagenarian, who’s left to lead the Avengers?

Eight months after the reversal of “the blip” where half of all life in the universe disappeared, the public seems to think the answer is Spider-Man. Though after being re-blipped into existence, all Peter wants to do is take his school trip to Europe and, hopefully, profess his love to his snarky crush MJ (Zendaya) atop the Eiffel Tower. But Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has other ideas for the web slinger, with the arrival of monstrous creatures known as Elementals, who are wreaking havoc across the globe.

Fury hijacks Peter’s trip, pressing him into service with Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a hero from another version of Earth who lost his family in a battle with the Elementals. Dubbed Mysterio by Peter and the media, the noble Beck is seemingly the perfect person to step into the vacant Avengers leadership role, and to take the pressure off the unsure Spider-Man. But things aren’t always what they seem.

Less of a standard superhero adventure and more of a Marvel spin on “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” or “Eurotrip,” “Far From Home” leans heavily into comedy more so than perhaps any other movie in the MCU so far. The film, tasked with rebuilding a sort of normal after “Endgame,” plays most everything for laughs, from the logistics of what happened when “the blip” was reversed to the technological legacy Stark leaves behind for Peter. Holland’s Parker holds it altogether as the awkward teenage straight man, though the film’s somewhat lumpy narrative and too-long runtime suck a little fun out of the whole thing. And as the MCU looks to pivot to focus on the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man for phase four, “Far From Home” can’t help but do a little table setting in its two post-credits sequences. The first one, featuring a delightfully perfect cameo, makes for an interesting cliffhanger that will leave you tingling for what’s coming next.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

July 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr.
Directed by: Jon Watts (“Cop Car”)
Written by: Jonathan Goldstein (“Horrbile Bosses”) & John Francis Daley (“Vacation”) and Jon Watts (“Cop Car”) & Christopher Ford (“Cop Car”) and Chris McKenna (“The LEGO Batman Movie”) & Erik Sommers (“The LEGO Batman Movie”)

No one wanted this, the third different Spider-Man film franchise from Sony in 15 years. Most of us liked the first two films starring Tobey Maguire from director Sam Raimi. I guess someone liked enough of Marc Webb’s first film in the 2012 reboot starring Andrew Garfield and a pre-Oscar Emma Stone to warrant the sequel that killed that franchise.

Spider-Man’s origin story, like Batman’s, should be etched in stone somewhere on a list called “Things We Never Need to See Depicted On Screen Again.”

But of course, in this golden age of comic book films, the most popular, kid-friendly hero can’t stay benched. Marvel came a-calling, offering Sony a deal they couldn’t refuse: let Spider-Man (which the studio has the film rights to) join Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe and we’ll let you borrow elements for the MCU for stand-alone Spider-Man films, which sputtered out after “Amazing Spider-Man 2,” just as Marvel was kicking things into overdrive. This marriage begat the latest film featuring the wise-cracking web slinger, “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

Picking up just after the events of 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” which is recounted by Peter Parker (Tom Holland) via social media videos, “Homecoming” focuses on Peter’s high school life while he awaits another call from Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to join up once again with the Avengers. Meanwhile, Peter dons his Stark-made Spidey suit—filled with tech, natch—to stop petty crime around New York. When Peter runs across some criminals using salvaged Chitauri tech, he inadvertently stumbles into the path of arms dealer Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a once-honest man driven to the underworld when the government and Stark muscle him out of the salvage business. All this while he’s trying to win the affection of cute older girl Liz (Laura Harrier).

I don’t know  that “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is the best Spider-Man movie—a distinction that still belongs to Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2”—but it’s certainly the most fun. The movie is a genuine laugh riot at times, shamelessly aping the ‘80s output of John Hughes to mine hilarity from teenage awkwardness. Holland’s Peter feels like the first real “teenaged” Spider-Man we’ve ever gotten, and his clumsy pining over Liz and his nerdy goings on with best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) are fun enough even without the web swinging. Alas, this is Marvel movie, though, and previous viewing of damn near everything that came before it, though not absolutely required, is highly advised. Though not as hefty a presence as marketing may have implied, Tony Stark hangs heavy over the film, especially in the suit, which at times makes Spider-Man seem more like a kid version of Iron Man that swings from webs instead of flying than the webhead everyone loves (also, where’s the spider sense, or the super strength?)

Still, “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” almost improbably, delivers an essential, delightful version of a movie no one wanted in the first place.