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  Spider-Man: Far from Home Doing The Ironing
Year: 2019
Director: Jon Watts
Stars: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice, Remy Hii, Martin Starr, J.B. Smoove, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Cobie Smulders, Numan Acar, Zach Barack, Zoha Rahman, J.K. Simmons
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Tony Stark is dead, and he's not coming back - this fact has left Peter Parker (Tom Holland) with a lot of thinking to do, and he is mulling over his future as his alter ego Spider-Man, a super-strong, super-agile and webslinging superhero. Maybe it is time to take a back seat, take stock, and simply live life as close to normally as he can, after all he wants to nurture his hopes of romance with fellow school student MJ (Zendaya) - she is interested in him, isn't she? Quite often it is difficult to tell, and he has a habit of making a fool of himself when she attempts to strike up a conversation. How about a school trip to Europe to clear his head? MJ will be there as well, there will be sightseeing to do...

How do you follow up the most financially successful movie of all time (not adjusted for inflation)? With a blockbuster not quite as ambitious, more of a wind down after all that activity and those dramatic twists. Call it a palate cleanser before the next phase of Marvel's entertainment juggernaut, but audiences responded to it and in a post-Avengers: Endgame high, made Spider-Man: Far from Home more of a hit that it probably deserved. Yet by this stage Marvel movies were a licence to print money, as everything they were releasing was raking in oodles of cash and becoming a global talking point, so was it churlish to point out that this "little" outing wasn't much good?

Sure, the wealth in the studio, now owned by Disney of course, was there for all to see in the results up on the screen, with grand action setpieces staged at regular intervals fuelled by the finest CGI money could buy to at least give an illusion of getting enough bang for your buck, but with its James Bond-style globetrotting and cheat of a villain, it was not terribly substantial, and a disappointment after the previous entry, Spider-Man: Homecoming. That had more of a philosophy behind it, and Holland was appealing as the teenage Peter Parker wrestling with powers that, frankly, could kill people if he was not careful, but the fact he was careful made for a more interesting superhero.

Here he was not quite as bothered about saving the villain's soul as he had been before, and it diminished the character to the point that the accustomed decline of the standard Marvel plot into acres of expensive but not very gory mass violence grew tiresome around the halfway point and never recovered. But what was most irksome to fans of Spider-Man was that here, he was not really Spider-Man anymore, as Stark exercised his influence from beyond the grave to guide and control Peter to the extent that he was no longer his own man, he was a pawn of a different man trying to ensure his legacy, even his personality, lived on in a younger person's body. More than once, far too many times, Peter relied on his Stark-designed supersuit to not only get him out of trouble, but unleash the aforementioned violence.

Therefore this did not feel like a Spider-Man movie, and suggested that Marvel's production line was more a factory operation than something with the quirks of humanity that made the better superhero efforts so entertaining. Though if they were getting too big for their boots, it did not show in the box office returns. For the first half, returning director Jon Watts went the pseudo-John Hughes route, apparently unaware, as too many were, that Hughes' cult teen flicks were not ageing very well, as Peter tries and fails to make progress with MJ, but then the protégé business began to dominate as a character from another dimension nicknamed Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) shows up exactly where he is on holiday (fancy that) to do battle with elemental monsters. If you cannot see the twist here, you haven't seen enough twenty-first century Disney and Pixar cartoons, since they simply used that plot and applied it here, another reason this did not come across as its own entity. Far from Home felt very corporate, no matter if you tried to ignore its stay-at-home American's idea of European geography. Music by Michael Giacchino.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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