Saturday, 6 July 2019

Spider-Man: Far From Home

I had been cautiously optimistic in the run-up to Spider-Man: Far From Home. I had a similar reaction to the run-up to Homecoming’s release as well, where I didn’t like the trailers and thought there was too much Iron Man in my Spider-Man but then ultimately the film turned out pretty great. Same feeling with the trailers this time around but unfortunately the film pales in comparison to its processor. Read on to find out why.

CAUTION: AVENGERS: ENDGAME SPOILERS AHEAD!

After the events of Endgame and the death of Tony Stark, Peter is feeling the pressure from both the public and his family to become the next Iron Man. He’s still feeling the loss of his mentor and doesn’t really want to have to think about it too much, and with his School class about to go on a trip to Europe, he wants to take a break from Superhero-ing and just be a normal teenager for a few weeks. This doesn’t go to plan as Quentin Beck aka Mysterio, a superhero from another multiverse has teamed up with Nick Fury and Maria Hill to stop the threat of the Elementals destroying the world and they just happen to turn up on Peter’s first leg of his European trip.

My biggest problem with this film is that it’s far from (sorry) just being a Spider-Man film. It’s also an epilogue to Endgame, picking up some of the plot holes created by the Snap (now called Blip) and jokingly tries to sweep them under the rug. Any double bill with Endgame might render the emotional core of that film obsolete… It’s also a sequel to Iron Man, with the big question of who’s going to fill his shoes and despite trying to make Spider-Man his own character they keep making him do Iron Man like things, even turning his villain into one semi created by Iron Man…yet again. And then it’s a Spider-Man sequel, the supporting characters get a few more jokes, Ned probably has less to do and then there’s Michelle, seemingly the MCU’s Mary Jane; she gets fleshed out a bit more here thankfully but be warned, she still doesn’t act like her comic book origins and maybe if they didn't refer to her as MJ we wouldn't have to keep the comparison going.

Taking Spidey out of New York does a lot to establish this as something new within the many films made with him. I admire the originality, I enjoyed the fresh backdrop, but I’d be lying if I said that it still felt like Spider-Man film. You just can’t take the boy out of the concrete jungle… Still, kudos to them for attempting it, it’s still fun and the story overall is quite light and breezy and works within the high school genre it's going for. Everybody looks like they’re enjoying themselves, especially Jake Gyllenhaal who gets to ham it up as Peter’s new mentor, Mysterio. I love Gyllenhaal, he’s great in most things and he brings the spirit of Mysterio to the character despite not being the most accurate to the comics. His powerset also brings about some really stunning and trippy visuals scenes which also allow for some of the best Spider-Man action scenes.

When Peter dons the suit and heads into action, that is where this film soars. When he’s out of it that is where film misses a beat. The emotional core of this film just doesn’t land, which is odd because it doesn’t take much for me to be emotionally invested in Peter Parker, but here I just wasn’t fussed. Even the post-credit scenes on this one, as big as they are, don’t really work with what was trying to be said within the main arc of this film. Everything feels a little too far from (sorry again) the core of the character, and I could forgive it last time because the film was really well done, but here I was less charmed by it. It just never settles into its own, as I mentioned earlier, it’s just trying to do too much when it should just be a Spider-Man film. There’s an element of myself having to grow up and realise that this film wasn’t made for me, and future instalments are not going to be either. Even the audience I watched this with on opening day had a lot lower average age than other Marvel film audiences I’ve seen recently. And if they’re enjoying it then that’s great, the more Spider-Man fans the better. However, there is no doubt that my nostalgia of what Spider-Man is and means to me lowered my enjoyment of this film. Sometimes I can separate my comic book fan brain but this time evidently not.

There’s no doubt it’s a lot of fun and the characters are a joy to be around. The film itself embraces the breeziness of a high school comedy that’s mixed with the aftermath of the stakes of one of the biggest films of all time. Despite the action scenes feeling on point, the story and emotional weight just doesn’t feel like Spider-Man and I’m not particularly excited to see where they go next with it. The further we move away from Endgame and Tony Stark, hopefully, the more Spider-Man starts to settle into his own films. We’ll see but for now, Spider-Man: Far from Home is far from (this is the end I promise) what I wanted but it’s not a total disaster, I imagine most audiences will get a good kick out of it. I’m rating it a 3/5.

Let me know if you think I'm absolutely wrong in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Quick Reviews #23

It's been a while... So here's another round of quick reviews, this time looking at Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Bookmart and Detective Pikachu

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

I don’t hate the 2014 Godzilla, but it’s easy to recognise that its fault lies within its human characters and the lack of its main Kaiju for most of the film. However, King of the Monsters has a lot more Godzilla in it but hasn’t really learnt its lesson from its predecessor as its human characters, apart from maybe Kyle Chandler, are dull as dishwater. Yes, there are big Kaiju fights but they’re mainly left for the supersized final act and usually covered smoke, water and darkness making it somewhat difficult to follow the action. My fondness for Godzilla means there’s a lot still to love here and I really enjoyed the journey into ridiculousness, but I can’t help but think that if you’re going to spend this much time with the humans then you’re going to have to make them a lot more interesting.
3/5

Booksmart

It’s rare that a comedy film comes out that’s as consistently funny as Booksmart. Straight away you recognise the influence, its colourful cast of characters with their many comedic quirks harkens back to the likes of Fast Time at Ridgemont High and Clueless. Like them, Booksmart will transcend generations as the emotional gravitas it has will hit home with all. The characters feel human, their relationships feel real and the story of their night before graduation will make you laugh and cry all at the same time. Olivia Wilde’s feature directorial debut is an absolute surprise of a masterpiece, not merely another high school comedy, but one full to the brim of humanity, growth and love. It might just be my favourite film of the year so far.
5/5

Detective Pikachu

I'm surprised by just how much I enjoyed this one. I haven't cared about Pokemon since I was 10 maybe? So going in I had a very basic knowledge of the whole world, and despite the fact it just drops you straight in, I could very easily follow along. I loved the world, it was so interesting and different and it looked absolutely great, so great in fact that I can't believe this is the first time they've done this. It's such an odd/brave choice for the first live-action film into this world, a noir film without the classic characters and a Pikachu that sounds like Ryan Reynolds, yet it absolutely works. Well pretty much any way, the emotional beats don't fully land and it does away with its noir charm in the final act but overall this film works really, really well. I had such a blast with this film, I can't wait to see what they do next!
4/5

That's it for now. What did you think of these films? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!