When Spider-Man: Homecoming came out, it was really a breath of fresh air, since it was a movie not based on the origin story of Spider-Man. Rewatching it with my wife the night before, I really paid attention to the details this time around, and even though some of the CGI doesn’t look extremely great (and CGI will never look phenomenal) and Iron Man being Uncle Ben 2.0 was lame (I see why they did it, but it doesn’t make it good). They did however hit it out of the part for the majority of the movie. Making Batman a villain and one of the most tense breath holding moments in any comic book movie ever was really just a thrill (The reveal of who Liz’s dad was and the car ride to the dance)
Smash cut to a couple years later and having the Infinity Gauntlet story wrapped up and seeing Iron Man actually die.. They just pick up where that left off. Just two months later, they release Far From Home, and in typical movie fashion, the budget gets cranked up, the story goes to new exotic locations, the CGI gets crammed into every scene (even if it doesn’t need to be) and the script quality goes right into the trash.
Now, I’m not saying the movie is bad, but it was nowhere near the quality it was back in Homecoming. And that is where my issues lie with this movie. Making Spider-Man struggle with being a superhero even after he has been through several movies and fought alongside The Avengers and literally saved the universe with them.. He still struggles to do the obvious right thing, or talk to a girl, or a ton of other stuff.
This can be attributed to the fact he still is a KID… but a kid who has an intellect far above those in Shield (as Mysterio says) and has saved the universe…. When that stuff happens, saying he is a kid doesn’t really gel when they have shown he really isn’t a kid in the grand scheme.
The road trip plot can make the sequel stand out from its original, but when you do that, you immediately remove part of what made the first movie so good in the first place. Taking Spider-Man on the road makes him unfamiliar with everything, have to do the same tired cliche hiding and coming up with stupidly lame excuses to change into Spidey, and everything we’ve seen so many times in so many iterations before. It’s boring and lazy writing.
Give me confidante Spider-Man, one who has grown up and lived and loved and lost and is just not a bumbling kid. Spidey’s “Guy in the chair” Ned is that character, but put in the wrong role. Sure it was cute seeing Peter stumble over words when trying to tell the girl he liked that he likes her, but it was done. We don’t need to see it again only with Emo Diversity Hire MJ. This is the reason that I still prefer ‘94s Spider-Man animated cartoon over every iteration of Spidey, real life or animation based. He was older, in college, isn’t a complete nerd (in the relationship aspect) and was working in the field of genetics with Kurt Conners IN THE FIRST EPISODE. We didn’t have to suffer from the “he’s awkward, so he’s like you the audience…. GET IT?” Writing that every Marvel movie overuses.
I love Jake Gylnhall, way back with October Sky, Donnie Darko, Bubble Boy or even Moonlight Mile (Check that one out, it’s good) I was always drawn to him as the example of a new actor that was different and was enjoyable to watch. Having him as Mysterio was the perfect choice, especially since the way they wrote him to be a good guy at the beginning. I even was thrown off… Obviously I know how Mysterio is, and I could pull his real name and top 5 stories with him in the comics out of my mind… but the way they introduce him, and him already being pals with Shield and Nick Fury…. It threw me for a loop.
I began to question if the writers changed the character. During his reveal I kept looking for ways that his magic trick (Illusion Michael!) was making the bell tower look like it was falling, but at the end of the scene, it really was broken and the city was destroyed. Then during the Carnival fight, I figured it out, and with the shot of the projector falling off with the web it was immediately clear how the tick (Illusion!!) was done. And I actually have to hand it to the writer, they did ilusion me for a bit.
I’m always on board with a good Pink Elephants on Parade-esque showstopper number in any movie, and good grief does this really do a great job of modernizing the concept. The effects are amazing and this is what a large chunk of the movie should have been. Peter constantly struggling to differentiate what is real and what is an illusion. Cut out all the “who am I” Zoolander nonsense. Loose the “I’m in love with MJ, but I can’t tell her how I feel because that would be crazy” c-plot and give us 2 hours of Spider-Man battling Mysterio and not being able to trust anyone since his Spidey-Sense ™ is on the fritz.
Even with Iron Man being dead, he still shows up way too much and the writing beats us over the head with Iron Man with old and not improved Daddy Issues Armor ™. Picking Peter, which the movie constantly reminds us is a kid, to basically give Stark Enterprises to, was basically the Golden Ticket without any real rational reason. Tony was not Willy Wonka, and giving the keys to the kingdom to a kid isn’t actually going to solve anything and just makes it all worse.
I enjoyed the movie fine, but it is not as good as the original. It’s a solid run of the mill comic movie, but yet again, the Villain was the absolute best part of the movie, and is kinda barely in it. I really wish movies would stop with the constant “let’s sit around a table and dialogue for 75% of the film and the 25% will be CGI nonsense”. It needs to stop. DO SOMETHING!!! Get up, punch people in the face. If I want good comic dialogue, I’m not going to see a live action movie, I’m going to read it in a graphic novel. Don’t punch above your weight. These Marvel movies can very VERY rarely deliver emotional touching scenes. It’s just not what they are. I say stick to what you are good at. Give so pretty faces some fun lines, CG thier faces onto their oddly slightly disproportionate bodies who have no sense of what gravity actually does to a body and have them punch the crap out of everything in sight.
The really crappy thing is again, movies put in stingers and setups and cliffhangers that 99% of the time never get to be used. This movie came out at the end of June, two months later Sony refuses to partner with Disney to do Spidey 3… So the cliffhanger ending to the stinger, where before Mysterio dies,, and records a message to be sent days later, and tells the world that Peter Parker is Spider-Man is completely trashed. They will never recover this storyline thread. They will never make good on the cliffhanger….. DON’T DO CLIFFHANGERS EVER, Unless it is already filmed and done. It’s never a good idea as this type of thing, as the next one very rarely ever does get produced and we are all stuck with an unfinished ending.