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Spider-Man: Far From Home - Spoiler-free review

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Nathan Strum

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I saw Spider-Man: Far From Home a couple of weeks ago while on vacation, but since I was on vacation, I didn't feel like typing up a review at the time. I had other, vacation-y things to do. :) 

 

Also, while I think the forum changes at AtariAge have been a welcomed and much needed upgrade, I don't care for the changes in the blogs at all. In fact, I've all-but stopped visiting the blogs. The main page is a cluttered mess with banners that should be hidden unless you want to view them, and there's a complete lack of separation between different blogs so they're all lumped together. In individual blog indices there's no apparent way to view entries as straightforward lists rather than as yet-more banner-clogged grids (banners should be shut off by default unless a blog author wants to add them.) Worst though, is a complete lack of support for categories or tags, which makes finding things a chore, if not impossible. From a blogger's standpoint, when creating new entries, I can't match pre-existing tags if they were capitalized before (it forces lowercase), so clicking on any new entry tags as a means of searching brings up nothing from before the upgrade (excuse me Invision for choosing not to be net-illiterate). Try it with this entry. Click on the orange "movies" button near the title, and see what shows up. Then, click on this link instead. Consequently, I can't say I've had much interest in continuing to post things in my blog, knowing that the work I've done to try and organize it into useful categories is now all for naught. And if I don't want to slog through my own blog indices to find posts, I can't see why anyone else would want to. So for the moment, I don't have a lot of motivation for continuing with Artie the Atari, Homebreviews, New Old Music, WRC updates, Homebrew Art or other ongoing series of posts here, at least not until the blogs get the same sort of usability overhaul the rest of the forums have seen. Right now - I can't even effectively search through my own blog to find entries that I know exist. But given that blogs have always been Invision's unloved stepchild, I doubt that will happen anytime soon. (I should note, none of this vitriol is directed at Albert - the forums desperately needed an upgrade, and he's been swamped with the massive undertaking of making all of that work. He can't be expected to single-handedly fix everything Invision stupidly broke.)

 

But anyway, I did see a couple of movies recently, so I'll go ahead and review them. As for the rest of this blog, we'll just have to see. It could be I'm just mired in post-vacation doldrums right now...

 

Spider-Man: Far From Home follows the events of Avengers: Endgame eight months later, and does a pretty good job of showing some of the aftermath of the events of that movie. Although frankly, everyone seems a bit too chill (as the kids say) given everything that's happened, and the world all seems a bit too back-to-normal, given that half of its entire population disappeared for five years, and that there have now been three alien attacks on Earth (Avengers, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame). But from a story-telling standpoint, at some point you kind-of have to put the world back together and just get on with things. That's how comic books work.

 

That's a bit of a minor complaint though, since I really liked Far From Home. As with the best Spider-Man stories, the focus is on Peter Parker and Tom Holland does his best work to date with the character here. This is what really set Stan Lee's approach apart - he made the characters interesting, not just their superpowers. Peter is still clearly a high-schooler, dealing with high-school things. Notably, his growing crush on MJ (wonderfully played here by Zendaya again). That's the foremost thing on Peter's mind throughout the film. Yes - there's a major threat in the film to be dealt with, and he's trying to find his footing in the aftermath of Endgame, but he can't get his mind off of MJ. He has the weight of his responsibilities of Spider-Man to balance with just wanting to be a teenager. Sometimes you want the weight of those responsibilities to just go away. It's very human, very relatable, and makes for a very compelling, engaging, likable character. Classic Spider-Man.

 

The film is well-written and acted throughout, with a lot of moments that are genuinely funny, some that are touching and sweet, and some that are very intense and powerful. The action sequences work really well, and touch on Spider-Man's ability to find his own way to deal with villains who seem to have him at a disadvantage. The special effects are generally top-notch throughout with only a few "eh, that could've been better" moments (when you farm out special effects to that many companies, you'll never get 100%; even watching Avengers: Endgame on iTunes the other night, there was some pretty chintzy CG that jumped out at me that I missed in the theater).

 

So from a Spider-Man standpoint, a Peter Parker standpoint, and a character standpoint, Far From Home is excellent. And that includes Jake Gyllenhaal who does a great job as Mysterio (and kudos to the costume designers who nailed his comic book look without making it look goofy and stupid).

 

Which brings up the one problem I had with the film.

 

If you know about Mysterio from the comics, then the film is a bit predictable. If you don't, you'll be fine.

 

Spoiler

They could have changed the nature of who Mysterio is, and that's how they sell it in the trailers and for much of the film. But always in the back of my mind, I was thinking, "Oh, I bet this is what's going on." And it turns out that I was right. Also, if you've seen The Incredibles, some of this film will feel very, very familiar. Kind of an odd story choice, given that The Incredibles was another Disney Superhero film, and I would've expected them to try to distance themselves from it. But whatever. Hollywood.

 

Still, despite that, I really enjoyed the film. I thought they nailed the feel of Spider-Man as a teenager, and what makes him a hero. Sure, action sequences and special effects are great, but the best superhero films are about the characters and their journeys.

 

The Marvel/Sony Spider-Man deal apparently has one more film left to go (and the mid-credits scene definitely sets that up in a classic Spider-Man way). I really hope they extend their deal beyond that. I want to see this Spider-Man continue. There are a lot of stories left to tell. C'mon Disney - you have all the money in the world now. Just throw several billion dollars at Sony and buy the rest of your characters back already.

 

Spider-Man: Far From Home gets an 8.5/10

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