Spider-Man: Far From Home Review

Spider-Man: Far From Home movie posterSynopsis
While on a vacation to Europe, Peter (Tom Holland) is recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to help combat β€œelementals” alongside the mysterious new hero Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal).

Review
This review contains spoilers for the end of Avenger: Endgame.

Spider-Man: Far From Home closes out the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU’s) Infinity Saga, the large, overarching narrative Marvel Studios has been telling since Iron Man. In a way, Spider-Man was the perfect character to close out Phase 3. For years, he was (and probably still is) Marvel comic’s flagship character, much like Iron Man was for the MCU. Spider-Man is also now the only character beside Iron Man to have two solo movies in the same phase. But most importantly, Peter Parker became an adoptive son to Tony Stark. No other character is more suited to reflect on what it means to not have Tony around than Peter.

I thought Spider-Man: Homecoming did a good job of integrating Tony Stark into the story; he was present but didn’t take over the story. However, his presence could still be felt in the peripheral, just out of sight. Even in his own movie, Peter still felt like he was in Tony’s shadow. Peter didn’t make his suit or all of the gadgets it contained, Tony did. Even when Peter messed up on the ferry, endangering civilian lives, Tony was there to fix it. Now with Tony gone, Peter has the opportunity to step out on his own. Tony’s presence is still felt in this film but a different way than in Spider-Man: Homecoming: Peter is shadowed by Tony’s legacy.

This movie focuses on Spider-Man’s interference with Peter’s personal life more than Spider-Man: Homecoming did. Peter trying to find this balance between the two was one of the strength’s of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and has been lacking in the Spider-Man films since. Constantly throughout the film, Peter is put in situations that forces him to choose between pursuing a relationship with MJ (Zendaya) or his responsibility as Spider-Man. These moments along with his reflections of living up to Tony’s legacy grow Peter’s character in leaps and bounds, creating some of the best emotional character moments since Spider-Man 2. For the sequel Spider-Man: Back Home (100% guess on that title), Peter can finally step into his own role instead of working under Tony’s shadow.

I’ve said in other reviews and in podcasts that in a market saturated with superhero films, superhero films cannot be traditional superhero films. They have to do something different or be something different and Spider-Man: Far From Home does just that. Given that Peter is still in high school, this movie is a superhero film wrapped in a teen drama, which is perfect. Peter is a teenager trying to find his way through courting MJ. He’s awkward, not perfect, and trying to find his place in the world. You know, typical teen stuff. Peter just happens to be a superhero. This is the kind of film the superhero genre needs to stay fresh.

One of the best things about Spider-Man: Homecoming was the cast. Tom Holland, Jacob Batalon, Zendaya, and Michael Keaton were all wonderful in their parts. We can add another well-cast member to that list: Jake Gyllenhaal. Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio was everything I could have hoped for from the character. His Quentin Beck was much more charismatic than his comic book counterpart but just as petty and resourceful. Gyllenhaal also had fantastic chemistry with Tom Holland, making their scenes together entertaining.

I thought Spider-Man: Far From Home was GREAT πŸ˜€ Peter has taken the steps to get out of Tony’s shadow and is set up for a Spider-Man movie properly about Spider-Man in the inevitable sequel. This series continues its outstanding casting choices adding Jake Gyllenhaal to the list. I am extremely excited for the future of my favorite wall-crawler.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Jon Watts – Director
Chris McKenna – Writer
Michael Giacchino – Composer

Tom Holland – Peter Parker / Spider-Man
Zendaya – MJ
Jacob Batalon – Ned Leeds
Samuel L. Jackson – Nick Fury
Cobie Smulders – Maria Hill
Marisa Tomei – May Parker
Jon Favreau – Happy Hogan
Jake Gyllenhaal – Quentin Beck / Mysterio
Tony Revolori – Flash Thompson
Angourie Rice – Betty Brant
Remy Hii – Brad Davis
Martin Starr – Mr. Harrington
JB Smoove – Mr. Dell
Numan Acar – Dimitri
Dawn Michelle King – EDITH (voice)


There’s still time to join this year’s Christmas in July Blogathon! Entries are due at the end of this week. To find out more, check out the post here.

Trailer Round-Up – 7/8/19

Jumanji: The Next Level

Spies in Disguise trailer #2

Knives Out

Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon trailer #2

Mulan (2020) teaser trailer


Which of these films are you excited to see?

Entries for the Christmas in July 2019 Blogathon are due at the end of this week! To find out more, check out the post here.

Toy Story 4 Review

Toy Story 4 movie posterSynopsis
At her first day of school, Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) creates a new toy named Forky (Tony Hale). It’s up to Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and the rest of Bonnie’s toys to keep Forky safe while on a road trip.

Review
Like many, I was skeptical when a fourth Toy Story movie was announced. Toy Story 3 had wrapped the story of Andy’s toys up to that point superbly. Several shorts have been made since then (which are perfectly okay with me) but another full-length feature felt like an attempted cash grab. Going into this movie I was torn. On one hand, I love the Toy Story films and welcome the chance to play with these characters. But on the other, as I said, the story of Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the crew felt complete. Even though it doesn’t quite hit the emotional highs as previous films in the franchise, Toy Story 4 offers a good conclusion for the characters many of us have grown attached to since 1996.

Firstly, if you thought the animation of Toy Story 3 was top-notch, then you’ll be blown away from the animation of Toy Story 4. As the toys go to different environments, from Bonnie’s room, to Bonnie’s family’s RV, to a playground, to an antique store, and many places in between, each place has its own aesthetic and feels unique. Toys are not made from the same material. Toys like Buzz Lightyear are completely plastic, Woody is a mix of fabric and plastic, and Bo Peep is porcelain. Buzz has a pretty matte look, you can see the pilling on Woody’s shirt, and Bo Peep has a shine to her Buzz and Woody do not, and all the other toys have similar characteristics. Look at the character posters to see examples of what I’m talking about. It’s honestly breathtaking the amount of detail that has gone into making these characters look as realistic as possible. The bar of what of animation is capable of just keeps going up and up.

For the first three films, or β€œAndy Trilogy” as I’m going to start calling it, the toys mostly shared the spotlight. There was more of a focus on Woody and Buzz but characters like Rex, the Potato Heads, Jessie, and Bullseye shared the screen pretty evenly. However, this time around the focus is on Woody, who becomes the sole heart and soul of the film, with everyone else being demoted to support duties. One of my favorite parts of the previous film was seeing all the different personalities of the toys together so it was disappointing I didn’t get to see as much of that in this film.

One of my biggest, if not my biggest, concern with creating a follow-up film to the wonderful Toy Story 3 was where the writers would take the story, as Toy Story 3 added a perfectly fitting ending to the story of Woody, Buzz, and the gang. In typical Pixar fashion, they proved that there is almost always more story to tell, and they told it well. I’m not a huge fan of how they made Woody the central character like I mentioned above, mostly because of how it shifts the narrative of the whole franchise, but I won’t get into that here. However, once again, Pixar created a story that has a lot of heart.

I thought Toy Story 4 was GOOD πŸ™‚ While I’m still not ecstatic that this movie was made in the first place, I still enjoyed it. This series serves as breadcrumbs to track how far computer animation has come, as this is one of the best looking computer animated films I’ve ever seen. Toy Story 4‘s heart is in the right place but it ultimately falls short, which isn’t too surprising given it had to follow the emotional franchise-ending of Toy Story 3.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Josh Cooley – Director / Story
Andrew Stanton – Story / Screenplay
Stephany Folsom – Story / Screenplay
John Lasseter – Story
Valerie LaPointe – Story
Rashida Jones – Story
Will McCormack – Story
Martin Hynes – Story
Randy Newman – Composer

Tom Hanks – Woody (voice)
Tim Allen – Buzz Lightyear (voice)
Annie Potts – Bo Peep (voice)
Tony Hale – Forky (voice)
Keegan-Michael Key – Ducky (voice)
Jordan Peele – Bunny (voice)
Keanu Reeves – Duke Caboom (voice)
Ally Maki – Giggle McDimples (voice)
Christina Hendricks – Gabby Gabby (voice)
Madeleine McGraw – Bonnie (voice)
Jay Hernandez – Bonnie’s Dad (voice)
Lori Alan – Bonnie’s Mom (voice)
Bonnie Hunt – Dolly (voice)
Kristen Schaal – Trixie (voice)
Jeff Garlin – Buttercup (voice)
Wallace Shawn – Rex (voice)
John Ratzenberger – Hamm (voice)
Blake Clark – Slinky Dog (voice)
Don Rickles – Mr. Potato Head (voice)
Estelle Harris – Mrs. Potato Head (voice)


Entries for the Christmas in July 2019 Blogathon are due in two weeks! To find out more, check out the post here.

Trailer Round Up- 7/1/19

The Current War

The Good Liar

Official Secrets

Charlie’s Angels

Midway teaser trailer

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw final trailer


Which of these films are you excited to see?

Entries for the Christmas in July 2019 Blogathon are due in two weeks! To find out more, check out the post here.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix Review

X-Men: Dark Phoenix movie posterSynopsis
While the X-Men are on a rescue mission, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) comes into contact with an alien force, causing her powers to grow stronger and more uncontrollable. The rest of the X-Men must find a way to stop Jean without killing her.

Review
We’ve reached the end of an era. With Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, X-Men: Dark Phoenix is the final entry of an era that started in 1999 with X-Men, one of the early films to kick off the current age of superhero film. How does Dark Phoenix bring the saga to a close? Unfortunately not as spectacular as the saga began, which is a shame because there are glimmers of what could have been a good movie.

Apparently, this second attempt at bringing Chris Claremont’s coveted Dark Phoenix Saga was supposed to be two movies. But with Disney’s acquiring of Fox’s movie division, it was condensed into one film. These edits can be felt throughout the film. It sets up the conflict nice and steadily. As the movie progresses, it slowly feels more and more rushed. By the end, the film gets to a climax it wasn’t prepared for. This creates an awkward pacing at times that, while not entirely jarring, is noticeable.

Many of the cast from the previous First Class era returns. James McAvoy returns as Professor Xavier. One thing I liked they did with his character this time was, despite his noble intentions and ideals, Xavier has made some questionable decisions to obtain them. This has been explored more recently in the comics and it was great to see some of that make it onto the big screen. McAvoy is enjoyable as always in the part.

Michael Fassbender returns as Magneto but with much less of a role than the previous films. This time around, he doesn’t feel as menacing and I’m not sure if that’s because writer/director Simon Kinberg wanted Phoenix to feel the most threatening or if because he’s had three films to be the strongest villain. Whatever the reason, his character clearly takes a hit in this film.

Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Holt are the last few to round out those who have been around since X-Men: First Class. In making way for the new class of X-Men, these two don’t get much time. You can tell that by this point in the series, they aren’t into their roles as they were in the earlier films. They don’t have the same charisma as before.

As for the new class, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, and Kodi Smit-McPhee, they all do fine but that’s it, just fine. I don’t think it is their fault. The script and direction wasn’t there to support them. Jessica Chastain, the newest member of the cast, can usually elevate a role beyond what is written. Unfortunately, she encounters the same problem as the younger cast members and doesn’t have the room to elevate such a one-dimensional villain.

Honestly, the one I feel most sorry for in this mess is writer and first-time director Simon Kinberg. He was one of the writers for X-Men: The Last Stand, the last film to attempt to adapt the Dark Phoenix storyline. From reading about the behind the scenes drama, he knew the mistakes of The Last Stand and had a plan to do the story right. However, when he was forced to combine his two Dark Phoenix movies into one, much of that went out the door. Now he is known as the writer who messed up adapting the Dark Phoenix Saga twice, which seems unfair given what happened.

I thought X-Men: Dark Phoenix was OK 😐 Most of the issues with this movie can be boiled down to the script. The pacing was off, the characters were flat, and the veteran actors of the franchise weren’t as dynamic or lively as the previous films. This was a much closer adaptation of the popular story line, and at times it showed hints of what could have been great moments, but it lacks the weight and heart that made the influential comic so popular.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Simon Kinberg – Director / Writer
Hans Zimmer – Composer

Sophie Turner – Jean Grey / Phoenix
Tye Sheridan – Scott Summers / Cyclops
Alexandra Shipp – Ororo Munroe / Storm
Kodi Smit-McPhee – Kurt wagner / Nightcrawler
Nicholas Hoult – Hank McCoy / Beast
Jennifer Lawrence – Raven / Mystique
Evan Peters – Peter Maximoff / Quicksilver
James McAvoy – Professor Charles Xavier
Michael Fassbender – Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto
Jessica Chastain – Vuk
Ato Essandoh – Jones
Scott Shepart – John Grey
Hannah Anderson – Elaine Grey
Summer Fontana – Young Jean Grey


Last week I announced the Christmas in July 2019 Blogathon. To find out more, check out the post here.