Sunday, September 29, 2019

Video review: "Spider-Man: Far From Home"

When I first reviewed “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” I described it as “the fun ‘n’ games portion of the milieu,” which I think well describes this most lighthearted of the Marvel Comics Universe films.

(And also my penchant for fifty-cent words like “milieu”… and “penchant.”)

That was before the revelations of studio squabbling over the rights to Spidey, which appears to sound the death-knell for this iteration starring Tom Holland as the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. That’s a shame, as I think Holland was the best fit for the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man.

I really think being a teenager is inextricably linked to the dynamic of the Spider-Man story. What makes it compelling is the idea of a 15- or 16-year-old endowed with incredible powers at a time in life when most of us are struggling to forge an identity that will carry us through our adult lives.

Or just finding someone to kiss. Never underestimate the importance of that.

In this story, Peter’s science class is taking a field trip to Europe that seems to involve no actual scientific exploration. It’s basically a glorified holiday. Set in the events after the recent “Avengers” movies, Peter sees this as a chance to get back to regular-kid normalcy and try to turn his friendship with Mary Jane (Zendaya) into a boyfriend/girlfriend thing.

But then the trip keeps getting interrupted by world-threatening incursions from elemental creatures popping up and attacking cities. Peter is joined and mentored by Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a hero from an alternate universe to whom he quickly takes a paternal shine.

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is there to ride Peter hard, while Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) acts as a kindlier handler. He’s also making eyes at Peter’s Aunt May (Marisa Tomei, putting the character’s gray hair buns in the comic books to shame).

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” may not linger long in the memory, but perhaps it’s just what the superhero franchise needed in middle age: a little shot of fun for fun’s sake. This movie is dad’s red sports car.

Bonus features are quite expansive, and include an all-new short film, “Peter’s To-Do List,” showing the workaday preparations behind being a teen superhero.

I also count 11 making-of featurettes, a roundup of Easter Eggs, gag reel and other outtakes, previsualization of special effects vs. the final product and extended/alternate scenes. Pretty much the only piece missing is a filmmaker commentary track.



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