Monday, August 12, 2019
Spider-Man: Far from Home
Based on the Marvel comics series by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Spider-Man: Far from Home is the sequel to the 2017 film Spider-Man: Homecoming in which Peter Parker/Spider-Man deals with the aftermath of the Infinity Wars as he struggles with expectations of being a superhero while wanting to be a normal teenager who goes to Europe with his friends as they encounter mysterious beings known as Elementals. Directed by Jon Watts and screenplay by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, the film is the final film of the Infinity Saga of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Parker copes with its aftermath as he teams up with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Quentin Beck/Mysterio to face off against the Elementals in Europe as Tom Holland reprises his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man with Jake Gyllenhaal as Quentin Beck/Mysterio. Also starring Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, Tony Revolori, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, J.B. Smoove, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Spider-Man: Far from Home is an adventurous and riveting film from Jon Watts.
Five years after the events where people had disappeared only to reappear suddenly five years later known as the Blip, Peter Parker goes to Europe for a school trip with friends as he is hoping to woo a classmate yet they would all encounter mysterious beings known as Elemental as Parker is aided by S.H.I.E.L.D. and a hero named Quentin Beck/Mysterio who claims to be from an alternate version of Earth. It’s a film that play into events where Parker has to once again put on the suit and other variations of the suit to fight against these mysterious beings yet is overwhelmed with his duties as he just wants to be a normal teenager. The film’s screenplay by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers follow the events of the Blip where kids who didn’t die of the Blip would deal with those who survived the Blip as they have age better as well as be more mature. It’s a new reality that some of Parker’s classmates such as Ned (Jacob Batalon), MJ (Zendaya), Betty (Angourie Rice), and Flash (Tony Revolori) are dealing with as Parker’s attempts to woo MJ is being challenged by another classmate in Brad Davis (Remy Hii).
The first act isn’t just about this new reality and Parker’s trip to Europe but also the overwhelming expectation of taking on the mantle as the new Iron Man as Parker isn’t sure if he wants to follow in Tony Stark’s footsteps. Upon arriving in Venice, Italy after blocking phone calls from Nick Fury, Parker finally meets with Fury after an incident involving a water Elemental where Parker would also meet Mysterio. The script does play into Parker’s resistance to help out as well as Fury’s increasing paranoia over what is happening while Beck acts as a mediator of the two while helping Parker dealing with growing pains. Beck is a fascinating figure as someone who has these mysterious powers to fly while wearing a fishbowl helmet to help unleash his powers against the Elementals. There is also some intrigue about Beck during the second act in why he’s so powerful as he and Parker work with each other during a mission in Prague as it would also involve a few of Parker’s classmates including MJ who would make a major discovery about the Elementals. The film’s second half doesn’t just play into some revelations over what MJ found but also a pair of glasses called E.D.I.T.H. (voice of Dawn Michelle King) Parker would inherit from Tony Stark that reveals a lot of information including some insight about the Elementals. The script doesn’t just play up the stakes of what Parker is facing but also so much more that would alter his own reality.
Jon Watts’ direction does have some elements of style but much of its compositions and setting are grounded in reality and remains straightforward. Shot on various locations in Prague, London, Berlin, Croatia, and parts of New York City and Newark, New Jersey, the film does showcase Spider-Man being part of a world that is bigger where Watts allows Parker to feel overwhelmed by his surroundings as he just wants to be the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man from Queens New York. The new surroundings that Parker encounters does allow him to find new ways to face off foes as well as save people as he is aware of his role but the monumental power of the Elementals isn’t enough for him to save people which is why Beck is there to help him. Watts’ direction has a looseness in terms of what Parker and his friends are doing in Europe including some moments of humor that includes a subplot of Ned and Betty being a couple as well as one of the chaperones in Julius Dell (J.B. Smoove) believing that all of these Elementals appearing are from some source of witchcraft.
Watts’ usage of wide and medium shots manage to get great coverage of the locations and its sense of geography of where the Elementals would pop up but there are also some close-ups and moments that is more about characters interacting as well as developing relationships such as the one between Parker and MJ. The film’s third act with its grand set pieces and revelations about who is the mastermind of the Elementals as well as that person’s motivations does add a lot of intrigue as well as these moments that are thrilling and exciting. Even as it add to the stakes of what Parker is facing as well as what he would have to endure in the aftermath as it play into what is to come for Parker and other allies along with a few twists of those Parker would encounter. The film also has Watts relying on past films that add to the dramatic revelations in the third act as it all play into Parker trying to live up to someone’s legacy when he just needs to be himself. Overall, Watts craft an exhilarating and evocative film about a young superhero dealing with mysterious forces as well as expectations to be the next big superhero.
Cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it is largely straightforward to play into the different colors of the cities that the characters go to including some of the neon lights at night for the carnival at Prague. Editors Dan Lebental and Leigh Folsom-Boyd do excellent work with the editing as it is straightforward with some stylish cuts for the action including moments where let shots linger on to establish what is happening. Production designer Claude Pare`, with supervising art directors Grant Armstrong and Jann K. Engel plus set decorators Tina Jones and Delia Picirilli, does amazing work with the look of some of the places the characters go to including the dilapidated hotel in Venice, the opera house in Prague, and a few other places in and around Europe. Costume designer Anna B. Sheppard does nice work with the costumes as it is largely straightforward with the exception of Mysterio’s costume and the variation of Spider-Man’s suits.
Hair/makeup designer Peter Swords King does fantastic work with the look of Beck as well as the new beard that Happy Hogan has. Special effects supervisors Roy K. Cancino, Pasquale Catalano, and Andy Williams, with visual effects supervisor Janek Sirrs, do incredible work with the film’s visual and special effects with the design of Mysterio when he’s flying as well as the Elementals and a sequence that play into the idea of reality and fantasy. Sound designers Chris Diebold, Andy Sisul, and Steven Ticknor, with co-sound editor/re-recording mixer Tony Lamberti, do superb work with the sound as it play into the effects of how the Elementals sound as well as some gadgets and how music is presented on a location or at the carnival in Prague. The film’s music by Michael Giacchino is great as it features some flourishing orchestral themes and some somber pieces as it help play into the drama and sense of adventure Parker would endure while music supervisor Dave Jordan creates a fun music soundtrack that feature an array of music from Whitney Houston, Umberto Tozzi, the Go-Gos, the Jam, the Specials, Caterina Valente with Werner Muller and his Orchestra, Mina, Marcela Laiferova, Flipbois, the Matadors, AC/DC, and the Ramones.
The casting by Sarah Finn, Jina Jay, and Maya Kvetny is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Numan Acar and model Toni Garrn as a couple of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, the quintet of Zach Barack, Zoha Rahman, Yasmin Mwanza, Joshua Sinclair-Evans, and Tyler Luke Cunningham as classmates of Parker’s who are part of the European trip, Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as Betty’s fellow school newscaster Jason Ionello, Peter Billingsley as a former Stark tech employee in William Ginter Riva, Dawn Michelle King as the voice of the A.I. glasses tech E.D.I.T.H., and Remy Hii as Parker’s rival for MJ’s affections in Brad Davis as a kid who survived the Blip to go from nerd to hunk as he would endure some funny moments. Martin Starr and J.B. Smoove are terrific in their respective roles as the school chaperones in the academic decathlon teacher Mr. Harrington and Mr. Dell as the former is baffled by the upgrades he received while the latter believes these events are from some form of witchcraft.
Tony Revolori and Angourie Rice are superb in their respective roles as Flash Thompson and Betty Brant as two of Parker’s classmates as the former is hilarious in his attempts to film everything for his vlog while the latter finds herself in a European romance with Ned that provides some sweet and funny moments. Jacob Batalon is fantastic as Ned as Parker’s best friend who finds himself in a romance with Betty while being one of the few to know Parker’s true identity as Spider-Man. Marisa Tomei and Cobie Smulders are excellent in their respective roles as Aunt May Parker and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill as the former is helping others who were killed by the Blip and later revived find new homes while the latter helps out Fury with the growing threat as well as be a voice of reason.
Jon Favreau is brilliant as Happy Hogan as Tony Stark’s bodyguard/Parker’s aide who watches over him as he understands what Parker is dealing with while he has a funny subplot as it relates to a possible relationship with Aunt May. Zendaya is amazing as Michelle “MJ” Jones as Parker’s classmate who is often filled with sarcasm and witty humor which is a disguise of sorts for her own shyness while being someone who gets to know Parker as well as make key discoveries over the Elementals and where they come from. Samuel L. Jackson is marvelous as Nick Fury as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. who is asking for Parker’s help as other members of the Avengers and fellow allies are unavailable as he is asking a lot from Parker while also acting more paranoid than usual.
Jake Gyllenhaal is incredible as Quentin Beck/Mysterio as this man from an alternate version of Earth who is battling the Elementals as he has powers but is also trying to help Parker with growing pains as there’s also many layers to what Gyllenhaal brings to the character that makes him a total standout in the film. Finally, there’s Tom Holland in a remarkable performance as Peter Parker/Spider-Man as someone that is trying to retain his youth and wanting a break from being a superhero as he copes with not just loss and responsibility but also the need to be someone he’s not as Holland brings that grounded realism to the performance but also a youthful exuberance that is Peter Parker and showcase who Spider-Man really is as someone that understands his role and what he needs to be for himself.
Spider-Man: Far from Home is a sensational film from Jon Watts that features top-notch performances from Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, and Zendaya. Along with its ensemble cast, dazzling visuals, amazing visual effects, a soaring music score, a fun music soundtrack, and a story about expectations and responsibility. The film isn’t just another winning entry in the Spider-Man story but it also serves as a fitting touchstone for the Infinity Saga storyline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as set up for new adventures to come. Even as the film manages to be a lot of things but also so much more than just a typical superhero film but also a film about growing pains and responsibility. In the end, Spider-Man: Far from Home is an incredible film from Jon Watts.
Jon Watts Films: (Clown (2014 film)) – Cop Car
Spider-Man Films: Spider-Man - Spider-Man 2 - Spider-Man 3 - The Amazing Spider-Man - The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse
Marvel Cinematic Universe: Infinity Saga: Phase One: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers
Phase Two: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man
Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Spider-Man: Homecoming - Thor: Ragnarok - Black Panther - Avengers: Infinity War - Ant-Man and the Wasp - Captain Marvel - Avengers: Endgame
Post-Infinity Saga: Phase Four: Black Widow (2021 film) - Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – (Eternals) – (Spider-Man: No Way Home) – (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) – (Thor: Love and Thunder) – (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) - (The Marvels) – (Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania) – (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3) – (Fantastic Four)
MCU is Cinema: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3 – Pt. 4 – (Part 5) – (Part 6) – (Part 7) - The MCU: 10 Reasons Why It Rules the World
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