Spider-Man: Far From Home proves to be another successful entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). If you haven't seen this movie yet, stop reading. We are going to be getting into some very heavy spoilers below. You also probably will have need to have watched the entire MCU movies leading up to this, because let's face it, if you're coming in cold-turkey to these movies now without having seen the others, you're basically just enjoying the crust on your double deluxe deli sandwich. So here we go into spoiler territory!
Who would have thought that Spider-Man: Far From Home would really come down to characters named Edith, Talos and J. Jonah Jameson. Yes, that's correct. Artificial intelligence, skulls and J.K. (Friggin') Simmons!! Sure we follow the usual suspects of Peter and his classmates around Europe while basking in Tom Holland's genuine performance of that awkward teenager having an internal struggle between saving the world with his powers of being "strong and sticky" and that of trying to execute his hopelessly romantic plan of getting MJ to kiss him. But did I mention that we have J. Jonah Jameson in this movie... the real one!
Okay, so long story short: Tony Stark is dead. He loved Peter Parker like a son and so left him all of his power. But Peter just wants to be a kid and his class trip to Europe is all orchestrated by Nick Fury and his remaining S.H.I.E.L.D. operations, working in the shadows. Fury needs Peter to help eliminate a bunch of monsters who will come and destroy the world. The other Avengers since Endgame have other things they need to attend to. So Nick Fury and team recruits Mysteryo who is seems like he's the newest contender for "Earth's Mightiest Hero." But of course, fans of Spider-Man know, this guys isn't to be trusted, but Peter Parker just wants to be a kid.
Sure, it sounds like a bad 90's action movie script... but that's because it is! The whole first half of the movie is a bit clunky and sticks like webbing in places, but it's all part of the design. So let's get into what this movie is also really about. Edith, or E.D.I.T.H., or "Even Dead, I'm The Hero" is another great piece of A.I. that Tony Stark created. It's basically Skynet, but needs a human controller, and has a much more friendly OS, and is operated completely by wearing a pair of sunglasses. The world is still feeling the toll that Endgame put on us, and like the MCU audience, we are wondering who is going to take up the Iron Man mantel.
Tony left Edith's control to Peter, who Peter again is extremely reluctant to use, especially after almost assassinating a potential suitor for MJ. He then gives the control to Mysterio (aka Quentin Beck), which unbeknown to all of us, is a disgruntled former Stark Industries employee, who was responsible for designing the hologram program seen in Captain America: Civil War and Tony refers to as his "therapy project." But he's not alone, he has a whole team of disenchanted Stark Industry professionals, who like Stark, had no super powers other than being smart and posses high levels of technological skills. Even William Ginter Riva (played by Peter Billingsley from 11 years ago in the original Iron Man) was there to be a part of the former Stark Industries villains. With the control of Edith, Mysterio is now able to make it look like he's the Avenger that is all powerful.
Mysterio seems kind of a "meh" character at first, nothing explained. But when you find out everything is being projected and mapped out by drones, the threat becomes very real for Spider-Man. I found myself in awe and wondering how Peter was going to get out of the visions Mysterio was putting around Peter. Even projecting a zombie-like Iron Man coming after Peter... a truly horrific image for Peter. At the beginning of the movie, his Spidey-senses (aka "Peter Tingle") are off because he's so distracted with teenage life. Of course, in the end he becomes more focused and that's what saves him in the end, bringing Mysterio down.
But of course, William Ginter Riva makes it out with footage from the battle and leaks it to the press. Actually, he gives it exclusively to the Daily Bugle and the hands of J. Jonah Jameson! Yes, we are looking at the one and only from the original Spider-Man trilogy, and as far as I know, is the only previous non-MCU marvel character that reprises their old Marvel role in the MCU. That's probably because J.K. Simmons was one of the best parts of those trilogies, and a fan favorite. Well, in this Spider-Man universe, it was his responsibility to release the video of Mysterio dying at the hands of Spider-Man and then they release his true identity of Peter Parker. A call back to the "I am Iron Man" moment, only it's not what Peter wanted. Also, he is called the villain! This is probably the best mid-credit scenes in all of the MCU.
This situation probably is going to be hard for Nick Fury to cover up, considering the fact that he's sunning himself on a Skrull ship in outer space. Yes, kids, the Nick Fury and Maria Hill we've been watching for the entire movie are actually Skrull impostors, Nick actually being Talos, reprised by Ben Mendelsohn. So when Nick Fury tells Peter to not mention Captain Marvel again, it makes a lot more sense. So what's Nick doing? Where's he going? Is that why the other Avengers are available? What's going on?? Ah, that's Phase 4!
In the end, we are left with a thrilling new addition to the MCU and a fantastic Spider-Man movie. Is it perfect? Not 100 percent, but it's fun, and what else should it be? It is also very satisfying to know that after the leak of Peter's name, he'll be fine hiding with Happy Hogan and taking Aunt May with him. Now May and Happy will get more quality time together with their new romance. But Peter will squarely take up the mantle of Iron Man, wielding greater power to protect him from the outside forces that now call him a villain. But as we all know, with great power comes great box office returns (like a $185 million record breaking 4th of July weekend).
I need to go see this movie again, and as soon as possible. What did you think?
4 out of 5 stars.
Tom Holland makes a triumphant return for his fifth time as the web-slinging teenager in Sony/Marvel Studios' Spider-Man: Far From Home. Which is saying something, considering Tobey Maguire had three runs and Andrew Garfield had two. This is his Tom Holland's second stand alone movie as Peter Parker, but he is just as fresh and entertaining to watch as ever.
Something that Tom does is give a genuine performance to what it was like being an awkward shy teenager, who just happens to be "really strong and sticky." Now I won't get into spoilers here, that will come later. But I have to say that you really MUST have watched Avengers: Endgame to really appreciate what's going on here. For those fans who have been following these movies religiously, there's some major pay-offs, major heartbreak, and major fun with these characters. Even the fans going back to the Tobey Maguire films are going to find something to cheer about... but I'm not saying what it is... but man, am I still hooting and hollering about it!
I will say I knew very little about Jake Gyllenhaal's character, Mysterio. So going into this movie was fun because I got really into who and what he's all about. It's hard to make a character work who sports a fishbowl on his head, but it all makes sense! His performance was just as good as the supporting cast, which includes Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders and Jon Favreau, who are continuing the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) thread here, just like they always have. It was great though to see Favreau's Happy Hogan get some much loved screen time and moments with Peter Parker as well. Especially after what we see they're like in Spiderman: Homecoming. There's a scene with the two characters in a location that is reminiscent of the village of Solvang, only it's in the Netherlands, that really is a moving moment... it would even make Tony Stark smile.
Holland's command presence as an awkward teen will resonate with just about anyone who was ever a teenager. We all have our "off" days, including when distractions can top his "Peter Tingle." But it's an honest performance by him and Zendaya's character, MJ, which has the audience swooning at times for how simply precious he is and they are. There's a love for the characters that is genuine from the actors, and it shows.
The first part of the film does come off a bit campy, clunky and predictable, but that's not so horrible because it's still fun. Films, especially ones in the MCU, that tend to have fun with itself seems to have better audience reactions. Which also may be why the DCU is having problems swaying their audience; they just take themselves too serious and are trying to be too responsible with the material. Well, Peter knows that with great power comes great responsibility. Yet we see Peter here, literally say that he doesn't want it. He just wants to be a kid and try to impress a girl... that is until he's needed and no Avengers are around to answer the call...
If you're going to the movies on this 4th of July Weekend, go see Spider-Man. It's another fantastic addition to the MCU that you really can't miss. See it before it gets spoiled, and whatever you do, (like I need to tell you) stick around to the end of the credits. This is probably my favorite (mid) credits scene I've seen in the MCU. Fantastic cliffhanger!!
Disney and Pixar made history in 1994 with their hit film, Toy Story. It was hailed as a milestone in cinematic achievement. Essentially a "Snow White" of it's day, where this entire feature length film was made with 1's and 0's in a computer. Computer generated imagery (CGI) had been in use before, including wowing audiences just a year earlier in Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park, but this was an entire film. Today's world looks at CGI as just another tool, and perhaps even crutch to productions that say on set, "that's okay, we'll fix it in post!" But that is also because animation and CGI has just become so seamless, in some movies we will never know the touch of a digital brush. It's arguable that Pixar has always been on the forefront of the quality of animation, but more importantly: storytelling.
The opening sequence of the new Pixar Film Toy Story 4 begins "9 years ago," when all of our favorite toys were still marked with "Andy" on their feet taking us back in the timeline to when we first met everyone in 1994. Yet, instead of trying to emulate the same animation style we saw in 1994, Pixar made parts of Toy Story 4 look so amazingly, it's hard to imagine everything we saw was digital. For example, remember Sid's dog chasing Buzz and Woody? There is a cat in this film that plays a similar role, but if you put a picture of the two animals side-by-side, you'll see in a flash what I'm talking about.
Even if you don't know who Woody or Buzz are, or if you don't care about the story and haven't seen the other films; go and see this movie simply for the brilliant work of the thousands of artists working long hours in the dark to make this beautiful to watch. There's even a moment in the movie where the characters stop to admire the view, and we're thankful too!
If you have been on the journey with Buzz, Woody and the gang, will you like this movie? Of course! Will it tug at your heartstrings? Well, let's be honest, this is a Pixar movie, so expect tears to be streaming down your cheek 5 minutes into it. But where else could these characters go? How do they grow after four movies? And I think this movie's ending seemed appropriate for that. I don't think it's going to please every fan, but for me, it was okay. Pixar took a risk with characters that are synonymous with their brand essence, but would we want any less to come from Pixar at this point?
I cannot finish this review without talking about the highlight of the film. Perhaps a genius Disney/Pixar marketing ploy, but the one who stole the show was a piece of trash, and we couldn't love him more. Forky is a new character, a toy made from a spork, some pipe cleaner and googly eyes. His purpose is to usher in our main character's new found purpose, but through a lovable plastic piece of trash.
In the end, come for the amazing artistry, stay for the fun and familiar friends, and leave with a warm heart.
Once you let the genie out of the bottle, it's hard to get the magic back in... and the genie first got out of that bottle in 1992 with the animated classic. Let's be honest, Will Smith following the act of Robin Williams is difficult, to say the least. In the 2019 live-action version of Aladdin, the movie saw some upgrades, which may also be its downfall.
At times the movie seems to follow beat for beat the original material, but the tempo changes quickly (sometimes literally speeding up the film rate to get through slow action). There was new songs and dance numbers introduced into the movie that we have not seen before (which nearly all has Jasmine involved). It's hard to swallow them because they don't seem to flow with the original songs. Basically, if you're comparing this to the original material, prepare for disappointment. That original magic is long gone and was used up for the past 28 years in the movie, sequels and all the use in Disney Parks. That being said...
If you go into this movie with totally and complete open minds (or if you have never seen the cartoon, or any variation of the original source), you might find yourself tapping your toes along with the music and enjoying the sheer spectacle that movies can't do these days because they are just laughable at times, but this movie pulls it off. Be assured, without getting into spoilers, this movie actually is much more child friendly than the original movie.
All in all, you'll still have a good time. The original movie is a hard act to follow, but Disney attempted to "freshen" this version up to play better to a new generation. The biggest change that Disney should have done to make the film better, would be a title change from Aladdin to Jasmine. In this film, she is really the main character and Aladdin seems far more forgettable. Maybe you should stick with the animated classic.
So Avengers: Endgame has been out in theaters for about a week and it looks as if most of the planets population has already seen it. The behemoth blockbuster did better than a Professor Hulk smashing a car (if you've seen the movie you get that joke). Speaking of which, if you have NOT had a chance to see this movie yet, do not read further. Seriously. I appreciate you wanting to read this review, but I'm telling you right now, you're going to be doing a disservice to yourself when you see it. So last warning... we're going to be not holding back any punches and will going into MAJOR spoiler territory in 3... 2... 1....
If you had a chance to read my spoiler-free review, you'll see that I gave it an initial 4/5 score. A week later, I still stand by that. I wanted to be able to give this a 5/5 so bad, but in good consciousness, I couldn't. There were several little things that irked me too hard. It was like riding on the most beautiful road, with the top down in a car that only Tony Stark would dream of, but then suddenly hitting the breaks every 20 or 30 minutes... just because.
So let's start out with some of the cons for me that thwarted my perfect score for this movie. For starters: fat, mopey Thor. I get it, he's sad because he lost his family and he didn't "go for the head." But he has New Asgard now and his pals Korg, Miek and even Valkyrie are there. The village... even the culture looks to be rebuilding.... with no thanks to our fallen hero. He's too busy trolling kids on video games. A funny moment for sure when he gives Rocket a big hug with his over done beer gut body suit... but the joke continues on.... for the entire movie. At least the look of fat Thor does. He's back in a wig and false beard and fat body suit as he fights Thanos with the rest of the Avengers, but he's moving and fighting like he was fine. He could have been a little more winded if they wanted to go along with the joke in the fight, but still.... it was a sad choice.
Speaking of that fight... it was amazing, it was tough and, did you notice, it was fought by the girls?Now, this isn't a complaint about getting the girls together to fight or a knock on Marvel showing love to their strong female characters. Its just I actually feel like Avengers: Infinity War pulled it off much better! This felt like overkill. The final battle with Thanos and his army was too massive on scale to focus on one shot that had all the women (even the timid Mantis was in the fray with everyone). It's like Marvel wanted to beat you over the head with the fact they have powerful female superheroes in that moment, and it sure worked. I think I still have the bruise. But on the other hand, if they were going to do it... there would have not been any other time to seize the opportunity. The moment will garner many more cheers than groans.
Speaking of powerful female superheroes... let's talk about the newest one. She had her debut movie just prior to Avengers: Endgame, but her role was reduced here to being a simple plot point, called "Deus ex machina." It's a classic phrase that literally means "God from the machine" and is to have some high powered outside force come in to save the day. You can see her be this in the opening of the movie, saving Tony Stark and Nebula. After the first death of Thanos, she retreats back into the cosmos to fight other threats, leaving the rest of the Avengers to work out their own things back on Earth. But without the use of Nick Fury's pager, she somehow was able to join the battle with everyone else. Say it with me, "Deus ex machina."
Finally there was only one other thing that seemed to get old for me was the running commentary on how wonderful Captain's rear-end looks. Like with Thor, one quick quip is funny and cute, but more than that just seemed gratuitous at times. Even when Captain looks at his own butt after he knocks himself out just took me out of the moment of one of my favorite parts of the movie.
Yes! The best part for me was not the big finale of everyone fighting each other, it was the smaller moments of this movie. When the team travels back in time to collect the infinity stones, Captain America comes into contact with himself from the past. The past Captain America believes it to be Loki, whom Loki seems to love to impersonate, and the fight ensues. This was such a fun surprise and yet so darn cool.
While Captain America was the real stand-out character who carried the film, we can't talk about Avengers films without Tony Stark. He presented an issue where he finally got everything he needed in his life, not what he used to think he wanted. He is humbled, married and a father! And a great father. Speaking of fathers, he even gets to have one last touching moment with his father that he had only ever dreamed of. Tony is the one who started it all, and at the post-credits "scene" is really just a sound of iron being hammered. The spirit of Iron Man will always be there after his passing. We will always love him, 3000.
I was pleasantly surprised by the new threat that Thanos had gained. He lost the stones when he destroyed them himself, and then died, all within the first 15 minutes of the movie. But when Thanos from the past discovers Nebula's connection to the future Nebula's memory banks, it gets real. It had me in a place of thinking, "What do you do when your enemy knows the future?" It's dangerous, and Thanos shows just how that can be far more dangerous than taking a sports almanac to the past and betting on the Cubs.
Other highlights was that we got to see Hawkeye and Ant-Man really shine. I think their characters got some much deserved (and well acted) love in an Avengers movie. Of course the ending of the film was a strong finish, much like closing the cover of a huge, hard-cover book. There's a complete sense of satisfaction and finality. True, we lost a few characters in this film, possibly forever. Tony, Natasha, Bruce Banner (well, he and Hulk worked out a seemingly permanent solution in becoming Professor Hulk) and... can't we fix Vision and put the stone back? What happened there, Captain? And when Captain went back to return the soul stone, what happened when he met up with a ghostly Red Skull?
Again, the cons for me are really nothing more than momentary nit-picks, but for me they stick out like a sore thumb. But this beautifully shot movie does truly take many viewings to be able to digest everything that is really going on. Maybe that's why it broke so many records in just the first weekend alone! It not only demands a second screening (mainly to watch the parts you missed when you had to go to the bathroom), but because this is a true cinematic event that needs to be seen on a big screen... and in a packed room. You won't feel that silly when you cheer and cry, because everyone else is doing the same thing.
Still a solid 4/5 stars.
Well, today is the day! Avengers: Endgame is out in theaters and audiences have already begun watching the culmination of 11 years and 22 films. It was a daunting task, to say the least, for the Russo brothers, who directed the film. But they did it! When you have to literally close the book and give closure to beloved characters and millions of fans, it would be like facing off with Thanos himself.
Was it a perfect movie? No. Was it a great movie, worthy of the expensive movie tickets and waiting in lines with throngs of sweaty nerds clamoring to get in? You bet! This is one of those movies you need to see in a sold-out theater and not wait for it to come out on Disney+. Movie theaters owners and managers are already extremely worried about the "small screen" killing their business, much like the entire motion picture industry struggled with the predominance of television in the 1950's. Back then, their solution was inventing "Cinemascope" and other anamorphic lenses to keep people coming to the theaters. Today's solution is showing movies like Avengers: Endgame.
This movie has moments where, if you have invested any bit of time or connection with the characters, will have you in tears. It will also have people rising to their feet and cheering! It will have moments of you audibly saying, "that is so cool!" I can't actually remember the last time I was taken out of the story because I thought what I was watching was just too awesome. That being said, there were some moments that took me out of the story for not so good reasons... one is a running gag that they carried throughout the movie... and that was a shame. There were other moments of pure convenience that left more to be desired.
That being said, some characters got great moments to really shine. The first two acts of the movie is all character building and getting ready for the inevitable third act. There were times when I was even questioning "Well, how are they going to get out of this one?" But in true heroic fashion, they fly through it all, while we stand on our feet and cheer them on.
The over all arc of the massive Marvel Cinematic Universe is epic is scale, which also wouldn't have happened without the trailblazing filmmakers behind the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series. Like those series, you may need to catch up on previous films if you don't want to be totally lost. However, you will cry and cheer right when the directors wants you to, which means you're going to be invested in the characters and the movie. This film isn't without it's flaws, but in terms of movie-going experiences, it's a top-notch adventure film which is worthy of a 3-hour popcorn filled adventure to the movie theater... maybe even twice.
Also, they say not to spoil the movie... and you don't want to after seeing it. This final Marvel gift needs to be unwrapped be each true fan in person.
I'm Daniel Lahr and I'm the Executive Director and Founder of the Central Coast Film Society. We're going to begin having a regular blog going on here where I'll be sharing my feelings on local events, news and movie events (ie. movie reviews)!
I hope you all enjoy and get to know us a little bit better as we continue to grow. This will also be a place where I'll share all of my recaps of events we have, give special thanks to people who help us out along the way, and maybe share some news here first with you!
That being said, the summer blockbuster movie season is just getting started this week with the arrival of Avengers: Endgame. I'll be seeing it on Thursday night and I couldn't be more excited! So I will follow up with our first review. That being said... there's many, many more movies coming out this year. What would you like to see me review?