Jul 8, 2019
Spider-Man. Spider-Man. Does whatever a spider can. If you don’t know by now, we love all things Marvel Cinematic Universe, so when the last scheduled film for the year hits the theaters, we’re bringing you the very likely biased review. I finally got a chance to catch “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (Episode #381), and it was... amazing, spectacular, sensational, and, let’s go with friendly neighborhood. You should check out Garrett’s review for that film, and catch it streaming on Netflix right now if you haven’t seen it. Or if you want to see it again. And while you’re checking out our reviews, don’t forget “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (Episode #106) and the rest of the films on the Road to Infinity War. I’ll be doing a little compare and contrast in today’s episode, for sure.
Also, speaking of Garrett, be sure to check out his main podcast, Two Views Movies, which just completed their 100thepisode with a special mail bag issue. Carson and Garrett do a great job breaking down the latest films in a spoiler-filled discussion, but they also have spoiler-free written reviews on their website. The promo will run in just a bit.
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Here we go!
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Today’s movie is “Spider-Man: Far From Home”, the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe film, directed by Jon Watts, and written for the screen by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers. The film follows Peter Parker (Tom Holland), after the events of “Avengers: Endgame” (Episode #469), heading to Europe on a school trip. However, events in Europe require Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to press Peter into service to fight new threats to the world.
I always like to place each Marvel Cinematic Universe movie into context, because the major strength of this franchise is how well they use continuity to tell stories. Today’s film was no exception, but before I get into the review, there’s another question that deserves to be asked. What movie could possibly follow “Avengers: Endgame”? I think answering that question sets the parameters for what we should expect for any film that follows what might be the single greatest franchise capstone ever produced, because that’s a mighty high bar, and this film is not only the second film in the planned trilogy, but also acts as an epilogue to The Infinity War Saga. Big shoes to fill in both cases, especially with a devilishly quiet Marvel Studios and all the possibilities with the Disney/Fox merger. Can “Spider-Man: Far From Home” nail the right mixture of both? The answer is yes. Mostly.
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” is a film about misdirection, as one might expect with introducing Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), a character whose entire modus operandi involves misdirection on grand scales. Every geek news site has published detailed histories of Mysterio, pulled from the available source material. Gyllenhall does really well with the character, and his origin stories (yes plural) make excellent use of continuity. From the get go, he’s already too good to be true, and we’re already expecting not to be able to trust him or our senses.
It puts the audience at a huge disadvantage, because we can’t live vicariously through Peter anymore. In fact, his willingness to trust in others is no longer endearing, but annoying, and it’s exploited in probably one of the more ridiculous ways possible. Peter follows his mentor Tony Stark’s footsteps by creating his own problem to solve, and the audience watches it happen in slow motion. No one likes a double cross they are expecting the whole time, and no matter how great the cast is, or how exciting the special effects and action scenes are, the plot feels contrived and predictable, easily the weakest part of the film. Even the marketing campaign for the film is an exercise in misdirection, suggesting the multiverse in a post-merger world, which has been discussed to death online.
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” is probably a better epilogue than a second film in the trilogy. I really enjoyed how they integrated the events and effects of The Snap, right from the start, but also how Tony’s legacy directly influences the plot surrounding this film, both the positive and the negative. The film could also be an extended eulogy for Tony as well. In this sense, the film nails it. Mostly. The post-credits scenes, while both essential and entertaining (and in their own way, another clever misdirection), end up giving us precious few clues as to what the next saga will entail. It was kind of disappointing in that respect. Not knowing the future of the franchise can quickly go from mysterious to just plain annoying. I did like how they tie together all three films released this year, though.
The constant focus on Tony Stark also makes this film feel like an Iron Man film. Stark almost seems way more present in this film than he did in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, where he only showed up at crucial moments. Between the shadow of Tony Stark, the omnipresent S.H.I.E.L.D., and the inability to trust anything involving Mysterio, there’s almost no time for the important relationships in his school life. And given the ending, there’s probably not going to be a whole lot of time for Peter’s non-hero life in the last film, either. Unless that’s yet another misdirection.
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” is more Infinity War Saga epilogue than a Spider-Man sequel, struggling to balance the two roles for the film. Great performances and excellent effects, along with fun use of continuity, cannot overcome some built-in difficulties with the plot. Marvel Cinematic Universe fans have likely already seen this film. Everyone else should know that the film leans on continuity quite a bit, and requires “Avengers: Endgame” (and a few other films) as prequels to fully appreciate everything.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91% (CERTIFIED FRESH)
One Movie Punch: 8.0/10
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” (2019) is rated PG-13 and is currently playing in theaters.