Spider-Man is Smoke & Mirrors

SPOILER ALERT: MANY DETAILS OF SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME AHEAD!

After Endgame we all knew the MCU’s best days, both financially and storywise, were behind it. I had no idea how steep the drop-off would be until I watched Spider-Man: Far From Home.

It sets out to be many things: a passing of the torch to the next series of MCU movies, a requiem for Tony Stark, a coming-of-age film. It accomplishes nothing more than being a mildly enjoyable and extremely silly teen movie.

Smoke & Mirrors

Of course great action films, and especially superhero films are supposed to be littered with head feints and misdirection. But they are usually to facilitate and undergird a coherent and, theoretically, compelling story. But in Far From Home, they are the plot of a somewhat coherent and thoroughly non-compelling story. And to drive home the point, they literally use smoke and mirrors.

This movie is filled with plot ‘twists’ you see coming from a mile away. Mysterio’s motives are clearly less than pure. And my God, the contrived scene where he spells out his plot in excruciating exposition is tiresome and reeks of lazy storytelling. Though with the movie running 2+ hours, I should be thankful for concise laziness.

MJ finds out who Spidey is! Shocker.

Everyone misses Tony Stark. Duh.

The overriding theme, at least that I could discern, is that no one is who they appear to be. From villains that don’t exist to heroes that are villains, to allies who are always shifting (be sure to stay for the second credit scene). Is this supposed to make the audience be introspective? The only question I’m asking myself is why I’m spending a night watching this.

Game On

Marvel movies are always visual feasts, but this movie got lazy and relied solely on special effects. And honestly they weren’t very special. This feels like a video game with a few live elements thrown in as opposed to the other way around.

Many of the action sequences are all computer generated with audio clips dropped in, just like in average grade video games from 2007.  Most of the time this facilitated action sequences to dazzle the audience and service the plot. But mostly just to dazzle audiences. I wasn’t dazzled enough to forget the lack of plot.

Teen Dream

Spider-Man: Far From Home is at its best when it’s being the silly, teenage comedy that it’s not even trying to be. Peter interacting with his friends is fun. Aunt May and Happy’s flirtations are sweet. Pete’s plot to break down MJ’s emotional wall is genuine if shallow.

Because of the character’s age, Peter Parker/Spidey is always the most juvenile of the Marvel franchises (though Guardians of the Galaxy caters more to young kids). And that’s where this movie is a winner. When it’s embracing and showcasing the young talent is when it’s fun. Even the student newscast that gets us up to speed on what happened to the kids who missed five years delights in its amateurism.

Honestly, the best parts of this movie are at the end. Not when Mysterio is defeated, but the END end. As in the two post credit scenes. They drive home the smoke and mirrors theme one last time and give hope for the next movies. Not a lot of hope, but some hope.

Wake me up when Black Panther 2 comes out.

The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation

After all the Thanos and alien driven drama, the movie points out that anyone will believe anything nowadays, and one supporting character looks at Mysterio’s machinations and says the witches are back.

So I’m making a Witch’s Heart. While moderately tasty, it relies on a smoky appearance to carry it home. Or far from home, as the case may be.

Cheers!

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