Spider-Man: Far From Home Review: A Perfect Parody of a Marvel Film

 

spider-man-far-from-home-new-costume-1173393-1280x0

Credit: Marvel Studios

Spider-Man: Far From Home is the greatest prank of director Jon Watts’ career. To hammer (far from) home what I’m trying to say, there’s a scene in this movie where Peter Parker strips for a Slav dressed in latex, and when he and Svetlana get caught by a fellow classmate who takes their picture, Peter orders an orbital drone strike on his peer via a pair of magical reading glasses.

I can’t make this shit up.

This movie, unlike the original Phase 1 MCU movies, doesn’t even try to pretend it exists in the real world. Far From Home resides solely in a universe comprised of jokes, slightly sloppy CGI (which the film actually gives a reason for, in another great meta-twist by Watts as he continues to mock Marvel flicks), cartoonish villains, teenage awkwardness, and all the other makings of a stellar Disney Channel Original Movie (TM). It’s a hoot. G-Force better move over because we have a new world-class international spy thriller from the house of the mouse.

It’s clear the days of Iron Man 1‘s subtle, nuanced semi-realism are far, far (from home) behind us, and this movie officially puts the nail in that coffin. While other MCU franchises like Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy heavily hinted at Marvel’s long-term trajectory, this Spidey film locks it in for good–right in time for Phase 4, also known as the phase a lot of fans aren’t planning on seeing or investing in now that the Infinity Saga has wrapped. Fare thee well, Holland, the squeakiest spider-boy/full-time Stark acolyte we ever knew. And adieu, Feige; thanks for everything up to 2012.

Also, snapshot reviews of other recent movies!

John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum — the effects are cheaper and lazier than the first two films (so many crappy Photoshop blood-splats), and the movie is way more of a plotless cartoon than previous installments (both of which I sort of liked). Booo. Also, stuntmen literally lie on the ground awkwardly squirming and waiting for Keanu Reeves to “kill” them, and it really sucks the tension out of a lot of the action.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters — the story is cleverly topical, feel-good, and though every single Goddamn character speaks exclusively in exposition and certain plot devices are beyond ridiculous (a young girl sneaks a giant boombox out of an inexplicably incompetently guarded terrorist base all by herself), the movie, on the whole, is fun. The camerawork and shot composition are drop-dead gorgeous, the majesty of the monsters is more or less maintained from Godzilla (2014), and the whole thing is a visual treat. Also, the sound design of the monsters is excellent.

Thanks for reading. Follow me on Twitter for more hot-off-the-press (or mildly warm-off-the-press) movie coverage.

Advertisements

Avengers: Endgame Review

190410-avengers-endgame-ew-232p_5cd0996d179a243889013eb8e7ebefda.fit-760w

MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD:

This review’s definitely not a day late, because I’m setting it to have been posted yesterday. And just like the movie, I don’t care if that’s cheating, because the entire film is made up of time travel tomfoolery like that.

Here’s the scoop: Endgame is just three hours of fun and genuine excitement, and definitely feels like an “event” more than any other movie before it. However, that’s all it is. An event. A trip to the carnival. Heart-stoppingly intense? Yes. Much less of a shitty comedy and more of a proper drama than previous Marvel flicks? Thank God, it is. A fitting conclusion to the MCU as we know it? Give (Captain Marvel) or take, sure.

Minus one cringe-inducing girl-power scene where a crying, weak little Spider-Man hands a plot McGuffin over to the hyper-masculine, stoic, and emotionless Carl Manvers, followed by a funny group shot of the women banding together to accomplish nothing for a hot sec while the guys kick back and let their female counterparts feel good about themselves, the movie was pretty good when it wasn’t defining heroes’ worth by their genitals.

But you already know all of this. You’ve read the reviews. “Fan-service” this and “I love you 3000” that. All the normie takes have already been made. So here’s my brilliant, totally original take: The Russo Bros. are lackluster directors. It’s been this way forever, they just happened to fool me with Winter Soldier. Their scene direction (and its accompanying editing style) is choppy and custom-built for Instagram posts, and I can smell their television roots in every scene.

Their style lacks grandiose. This sad phenomenon is especially visible during action scenes, when the Russo Bros. fail to capitalize on the epic nature of the heroes they’re in charge of.

Take, for example, a bad-ass moment when Pepper Potts teams up with her husband to kill some aliens. Both of them are in Iron Man suits and it looks awesome. Her armor is flared out like a purple phoenix, and Tony’s is doing that badass unibeam attack that deserved to crop up way more often in the MCU. The camera circles around them super-duper fast, showing them doing these epic maneuvers back to back with each other. It’s great. The pacing is electric, the choreography is fluid, everything about that shot is fantastic–except for the fact that it’s over in three seconds (the link to the clip will probably get taken down by YT, but I’m being literal when I say three damn seconds).

That kind of moment deserves, hell, at least ten seconds, just so the audience can process it, digest it, and then revel in it. The issue is, Team Russo (TM) only cares that audiences process it, then they move right along without giving anyone the time to savor it. It feels lazy, like they didn’t want to properly manufacture tension and think out genuine ways to extend the choreography to reach peak potential, so they cut away the second they’ve done just barely enough to “satisfy” the masses.

Think back to the stunning action sequences in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for a moment: every one of those featured a kinetic flow and sense of effortless endurance that puts each and every Endgame action scene to shame. Also think about other superhero films, like those directed by Christopher Nolan. Nolan never shirked away from challenges like the ones mentioned above, which is why his stellar Batman trilogy will be remembered long after this film and the majority of other MCU flicks.

That last line sums up my feelings on this movie: great, but not memorable. The Russo Bros. just aren’t in the business of making films that leave a lasting impression, beyond their utilization of superficial narrative parlor tricks like the ending of Infinity War. As another reviewer stated, this movie is clear-cut pro-forma storytelling. I’m inclined to agree.

“Shazam” Review

Shazam is absolutely, perfectly fine. It won’t change your world, but it’ll definitely brighten it up for two hours.

Shazam

If you liked what you saw in the trailers, go see it. It’s a fun movie that lives up to its promo material and is built to amuse kids and parents alike, and the teens in between will probably get a kick out of it as well.

Every actor in the flick does a great job, and even some of the younger performers (specifically a young Asian boy) who struggle to match their peers still infuse enough passion into their performances that all shortcomings are easily forgiven. And even though the villain is one-note, two-dimensional schlock (not Mark Strong’s fault), it’s fine, because the story’s heroes have enough heart between them to make the whole two-hour journey worth it.

I can’t say much about the movie without spoiling anything, so just know that Shazam‘s marketing didn’t ruin, or even address, most of the film’s highlights. It’s not the kind of superhero romp that’ll leave you feeling like a badass a la Iron Man, and it’s not a movie with gritty, “big deal” stakes like Wonder Woman, but it’s a fun, top-tier cinema snack to chew on if you’re craving something free of politics and general dourness. Shazam is wholesome action-adventure entertainment that just about anyone can get behind.

Alita: Battle Angel Review

If you’ve ever cringed in reaction to spotting a real-life weeaboo, know that this movie will give you healthy insight into their lifestyle without making your skin crawl.

Alita2

Alita: Battle Angel
has some painfully awkward dialogue, a few not-so-hot performances (Hugo’s actor does not do a great job), and a pretty forgettable overall story arc, but it’s an excellent showcase of state-of-the-art CGI, and for that alone, it’s pretty darn enjoyable. If you want to be visually wowed, this is a movie worthy of the theater experience.

Continue reading

The Avengers React to DC’s Titans Trailer

I’m back, baby. Only took a year and a half for me to come up with another written blog post idea. It’s a video.