REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (2019)

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SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (2019)

Spider-Man: Far From Home opens with a lot going on in the life of Peter Parker (Tom Holland). He’s adjusting to life after returning from “The Blip”…the five year period during which those Thanos vanquished were gone. He’s trying to cope with the death of mentor Tony Stark. He’s dealing with an apparent relationship between Happy Hogan (John Favreau) and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and his own feelings for MJ (Zendaya). Even his class trip to Europe gets complicated as he’s approached by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to battle creatures from another dimension with help from Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), a man said to be from an alternate dimension Earth. Can Peter save the planet, his friends and win the heart of MJ?…and can he trust Mysterio?

Sequel is a lot of fun and a bit bittersweet, as it deals with the effects of Tony Stark’s death on Peter and the world and it’s the first MCU flick without a cameo from the late, great Stan Lee. It’s directed with enthusiasm and a fast pace by a returning Jon Watts from a script by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers. It’s a bit refreshing…and slightly off-putting…getting Peter Parker out of NYC for a while, but it keeps things fresh as Peter tries to deal with Stark’s hopes the he would pick up the mantle, if anything should ever happened to Tony…and it obviously has. There are a lot of lighter moments, too, as Peter has to juggle his secret mission for Fury, keep his identity a secret, battle otherworldly creatures and still try to win MJ away from handsome jock Brad (Remy Hii). The script keeps the various story elements mixed nicely, all the while delivering some spectacular action scenes in various European locals, much like a 007 film. The movie establishes a nice bond between Peter and Quentin which makes the betrayal all the more effective, even though we know it’s coming, as Mysterio is one of Spidy’s classic villains. It all comes together in a nice, action-packed climax in London and then a shocking mid-credits sequence back in NYC that has a familiar face turning Peter and Spider-Man’s life upside down. The next Spider-Man flick should be interesting indeed!

The cast are all good. Tom Holland is a great Peter Parker and he handles the various emotions very well. He’s a superhero still growing into his suit and now has to handle the pressure of Stark choosing him as his successor. He also has to balance his duty to battling evil and satisfy his own heart with the girl he’s falling for. As MJ, Zendaya is smart, sarcastically funny, sweet at heart and has a girl next door beauty that makes her completely crush worthy and a fitting addition to Peter’s small circle. The actress creates a very quirky, independent, yet endearing character. Jackson and Favreau can play their characters in their sleep at this point and thankfully they don’t. Jake Gyllenhaal is a welcome addition to the MCU as Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio. Initially he delivers a man with very noble and heroic intentions, a man you can believe Peter would bond with. Once his nefarious plan is unveiled, Gyllenhaal goes delightfully over-the-top for some solid villainy. A good choice for one of Spider-Man’s major bad guys. The supporting cast, such as Jacob Batalon as the lovable Ned, Tony Revolori as Flash, Martin Starr as Mr. Harrington and Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, all create entertaining supporting characters in their given moments.

After the dramatic intensity of Avengers: Endgame, Far From Home delivers a lighter break, but with enough emotional depth to make sense with what it follows and as the supposed last film in MCU Phase 3. It has Peter Parker adjusting to missing five years, handling the death of his mentor and the possibility of filling his shoes to a degree. As with all the Spider-Man films, he also has to balance being a hero and yet still be a teenage boy. There are some really fun moments, a lot of spectacular action, it balances multiple characters well and delivers a solid villain in Mysterio. There are a few scenes that could have been a bit shorter, but overall is a lot of fun and feels far more like it’s own film than Homecoming. Stay through the credits for a shocking mid credits scene and a fun end credits scene.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 (out of 4) webs!


 

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BARE BONES: MAS NEGRO QUE LA NOCHE, BIG HERO 6 and NIGHTCRAWLER

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MAS NEGRO QUE LA NOCHE (Blacker Than Night) (2014)

Spanish film is a remake of a 1975 flick and is a fun and very gothic haunted house movie. The story finds pretty Greta (Zuria Vega) inheriting an old mansion from her Aunt Ofelia (Lucía Guilmáin), as well as, her fortune and her strange black cat, Becker. She moves in with her three friends, Maria (Adriana Louvier), Vicky (Ona Casamiquela) and Pilar (Eréndira Ibarra) and soon things start to get strange. When Maria kills Becker, whom she suspects savaged her beloved ferret, the unexplained apparitions and strange behavior of the house’s occupants starts to build to a shocking and bloody conclusion, where dark secrets are revealed both past and present. This is a fun flick as written and directed by Henry Bedwell and has some very gothic atmosphere to go with it’s ghostly apparitions, revealing flashbacks and possibly spirit-influenced behavior. It’s taken seriously but, there is a sense of fun about it, as our four beautiful Latinas start to feel that there is something very wrong in this house…and obviously there is. A haunted house thriller and a bit of mystery too, adds up to an entertaining flick with some nice eye candy as it’s lead characters. Gets the whole gothic drama thing far better than Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows did. Also stars Margarita Sanz as the housekeeper Evangelina, who obviously knows more than she’s saying. Not great but, fun.

3 star rating

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BIG HERO 6 (2014)

I enjoyed Big Hero 6. it’s a fun, colorful and fast moving animated adventure about a group of teens and their lovable robot Baymax, who are forced to become superheroes to thwart a masked villain. As a kids movie it’s got enough action and likable characters to keep the young ones occupied but, as an adult, I kept seeing bits and pieces lifted from other movies. This would be fine if the film was a homage and acknowledged it’s influences but, this Disney flick seemed to flagrantly borrow designs and ideas without giving those sources a nod. There are designs and concepts taken from Tron and Stargate as well as scenes lifted from films like Spider-Man 2, Kick-Ass and even last year’s Star Trek Into Darkness. They even ruin a great post credits cameo by showing the surprise guest in a portrait about halfway through. So, while the film did it’s job and entertained, I just felt it could have been so much more if the makers either came up with more of their own ideas or at least had the decency to give their influences a bit more of a nod.

3 star rating

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NIGHTCRAWLER (2014)

Without a doubt, Jake Gyllenhaal gives a dazzling performance as creepy thief and con-man Lou Bloom, who, after a chance encounter with a crew filming a car wreck, decides he can make good money following the police bands to film the aftermath’s of crimes and accidents to sell to the news media. The more gruesome events he catches and the more money he makes, the more the immoral and unethical Lou sees profit in manipulating events to get that money shot…regardless of the laws broken or innocents that may get caught in the way. Despite a very intriguing premise and Gyllenhaal’s fantastically sleazy portrayal, I found this film was overall predictable and ran out of gas about halfway through. You can see clearly, early on, where this is heading and it goes exactly where you expect and with the predicted results. I definitely give this extra credit for the acting and the interesting idea but, overall was a bit disappointed that the film, directed by Dan Gilroy, didn’t really grab me and hold on to me like it should. Worth a look but with cautioned expectations. Also stars Rene Russo as an equally unscrupulous newswoman.

3 star rating

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