The Iron Spider stops Mr. NotSoStrange: A review of Spider-Man Far From Home

The newest Iron Man movie starts off with a half-assed high school tribute to the founding Avenger Tony Stark. Then it quickly devolves into a 2-hour quest for Little Tony Junior to discover his inner Iron Man before he can defeat the newest Dr. Strange knockoff in the latest Marvel movie masquerading as a Spider-Man flick.

I have been far too soft on the Avengers films. In fact I have sung their praises individually while maintaining my displeasure with the shear amount of films required to follow the massive cinematic universe Marvel Studios have crafted under the heavy hand of The Walt Disney Company. Yet as I sit in the theater enjoying easily my favorite stand alone, solo Marvel superhero go on his latest adventure I can’t but wonder when are we going to get a Spider-Man film that doesn’t have ties to either the Avengers, SHIELD or Tony stinking Stark. Don’t get me wrong this is not an attack on the film, I enjoyed it, nay I loved it. Save for a few heavy handed references to that industrialist whom I have grown to detest, loath even. To the point I am willing to revert to cliche’s in an attempt to accurately convey my disdain for the fact that nobody has a problem with any of these movies because godforbid you  have your own opinion. No if you stray from the message of Marvel Rules and the MCU is cinematic perfection, then you will bring the wrath of the nerds down upon your sorry ass faster than Thor can throw a thunderbolt at Loki.

The plot

This is my sticking point. The movie is utterly fantastic, through and through, no question there. I loved this portrayal of Peter Parker, his friends and even the very adorable Mary Jane. I was annoyed at first that there were obvious alterations from her comic book appearance but the actress handily won me over and made my heart flutter, yes that is in deed the woman this version of Peter Parker would fall madly in love with.

The parts of the story that focus on Peter and his friends and teachers is absolutely brilliant. I loved it. It really captured the essence of a high school field trip gone awry. As a former high schooler who experienced many failed attempts at following the itinerary the adults were amusingly trying to force upon us this film encapsulated that perfectly.

The downside is the movie relies heavily on SHIELD interfering to bring Spider-Man out to play while once again making Tony Stark the central force not only tying the plot together but serving as the entire motivation for the villains. Every single person who sides with Mysterio does so exclusively because of their respective desire to destroy the legacy of none other than Mr. Stark himself. By the time the film gets Peter on a plane waving his hands around at his version of Jarvis, now named EDITH (Even in Death I’m The Hero) a not-so-subtle reminder Stark is still running the damn show. Seeing Spider-Man replicating the motions of the man who wore the Iron Man suit, while constructing his own Iron Spider suit, just goes to show had desperately the MCU has come to rely on a single man. Now, don’t get me wrong I can handle a reference to Stark, I can surely accept these movies are in the same universe, but when the entire film centers entirely on Tony Stark as the motivator for the plot, the reason for the antagonist and the solution to the problems created throughout it only makes me wonder who, behind the scenes, is infatuated with either the character, or the actor who played him? Even in death Robert Downy Jr’s Tony Stark was seen throughout the film, on multiple occasions.

There was even a point where Peter suggests he doesn’t want to be the next Iron Man, he just wants to be Spider-Man. YES, that is exactly what I want too! I want a Spider-Man movie more akin to the very faithful adaptation Sam Raimi provided more than a decade ago.

The characters

I can’t spend too much time knocking the characters. In fact I literally want to do the opposite. The kids were fun. The adults were fun to laugh at. The villains were exactly as expected and most importantly Tom Holland nailed his portrayal of Peter Parker both in and out of the Spider-suit.

I haven’t seen the previous film so I didn’t spend enough time learning the names of the new characters. I will say that each one served a purpose and was exactly as entertaining as I expected. I honestly have no complaints. I was, at first, annoyed our beloved Mary Jane Watson was not a red head (especially as someone who is fond of red heads just look at my Jean Grey obsession) but I can honestly say this interpretation won my heart. She really was the object of Peter’s affection and she nailed her performance. The other characters were as aptly acted as I expected and nobody stood out as off putting. For everything I love about the Sam Raimi Spider-Man film, the one thing that I don’t like is Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal of Miss Watson.

The only characters that did annoy me were the Avengers characters that I felt were out of place in this picture. I don’t need to see Nick Fury sending Spider-Man to Proq to fight Mysterio, I want Mysterio to hate Spider-Man for his own personal reason without the need for Stark Industries or SHIELD to be involved what so ever. Still, the Mysterio parts were totally amazing.

The action

This takes me to the best part. As is to be expected the action sequences handily deliver an experience that is very much worth seeing in the theater. In fact, I will say that as much as I absolutely love the original 2002 Spider-Man, this movie was clearly the more cinematic picture. Sure, times have changed but still this movie jumped off the screen whereas that previous film merely did the job it needed to at the time.

Really the only complaint I will voice here is how Spider-Man’s suit looked too high tech. Again I am more than happy with a spandex wearing super hero I don’t need my Spidey running around in Stark Industry gear. However, Disney apparently disagrees so here we are.

The fight scenes where Mysterio are giving Spidey the beat down of his life are just amazing. The illusions were perfectly crafted to confuse the audience while disorienting the wall-crawler simultaneously. I can’t think of a single action scene that didn’t work for me. For the most part the action tends to be the best part of these films anyways so I have no complaints.

Scenery

I don’t normally include this category in a review but this film went out of its way to ensure every shot was breathtaking. The cinematographer deserves an academy award I think. This movie made me feel like I was web slinging with Spider-Man. It made me feel like I was on a bus going down the country side of some distant country I’ve only heard about in movies. It was a very beautifully shot film that really brought the characters to life and made the settings pop.

Overall

The movie is a very enjoyable ride. From start to finish the movie goer is sure to get a thrill ride easily worth the price of admission. While Spider-Man is absolutely my favorite solo superhero in the Marvel battalion, his films have been largely inconsistent. There is usually a great film thrown together with a few minor details to nitpick. In the 2002 picture the movie was mostly perfect with a few cheesy one liners and a terribly cast Mary Jane. The Amazing Spider-Man had some of the most exciting action scenes and took the character in a much darker place but fell short on the charm that makes the character so like able in the first place. This film is no exception. It was a damn near perfect movie only tainted by the overwhelming and very in-your-face references to Tony Stark and the Avengers. Other than that it was perfectly cast, perfectly acted, beautifully shot. It more than capture the essence of the character and the plot, while a little contrived, fit the film nicely. All in all I had a blast and most fans will too.

I rate it a solid 5 out of 5. The minor flaws are just not nearly enough to take away from an absolutely spectacular Spider-film.

Contemplating the Netflix purchase of comic book imprint Millarworld

The Spiders Lair is not a news site first and foremost. Obviously nobody is learning about this news by coming here. Still this is big enough I wanted to get something down before the dust settles.

According to reports Netflix is purchasing an indie comics company called Millarworld. Apparently it’s the publishing house that does Kick-Ass and Kingsmen, among other comics I never heard of. At first that sounds like a pretty big deal. Especially when you take into account their current deals with Marvel. Netflix could soon become the premiere streaming service for quality, comic book content.

Of course the only two comics they make I know about are the very two not included in the purchase. What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? On the surface, very little. Netflix has never out right purchased another company before. By picking up a comic book imprint the idea sounds good. If they can develop enough titles into quality movies and shows for their service, combined with the already fantastic Marvel shows they have, other publishers could come on board. I think the far reaching implication would be for more indie developers to bring their titles to Netflix for production. This could mean we could start seeing shows based on comics that aren’t as mainstream as Marvel and DC without having to go through the Hollywood studios. This could be a game changer depending on how things work out.

Imagine as more comic book fans start to discover all the good shows and movies they want to watch are coming to Netflix. This could snowball where all the content creators scramble to get their indie comic characters turned into a Netflix series. I would LOVE to see a Gen 13 show or even a revived Buffy with a new lead. Oh, I guess if they wanted to they could go the animated route too. I just wish they would use their licensing deals to pick up a few more classic animated comics based shows like the original TMNT cartoon or even some X-Men the Animated series. When I first discovered Netflix they had a ton of those types of shows. Now they have a few here and there. I don’t think the quality has declined much. I just don’t think they need to abandon old shows entirely to make room for new content. I would prefer they found a better balance between the two.

AS of right now this is more akin to when Hasbro bought the rights to Atari back in the 90’s. They are getting some new properties but are they really going to have the impact Netflix desires? A real game changing deal would have been if they picked up Image, Malibu, or even Dreamwave, at least then you are getting a solid blend of well known and indie comics. Here you are basically getting 4th tier comics from a very small specialty publisher. Not a bad deal, it’s still new content but seriously if you have to Google what their titles are it’s not like they are making waves. I mean I read comics, I go to Free Comic Book Day. And I wasn’t that familiar with this company. I loved Kingsmen and Kick-Ass but since those two aren’t a part of this deal I am not even sure how much of an impact this will truly make. All in all I will just take a wait and see approach. Since I haven’t really even been paying attention to Netflix in quite a while I am certain this won’t really affect me all that much anyways.

Wonder Woman movie review

I don’t often review current films on here. One of the reasons for that is I don’t actually see very many current films. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them or I am getting too old, I just don’t have the time or the money like I did when I was younger and I am more selective about the films I see. The last movie I went to theaters to watch was Batman v Superman, and I can tell you based on my negative experience with that, I was very skeptical to see this Wonder Woman movie.

I could easily begin cracking jokes about how it was basically just Captain America in drag, but that’s doing the underlying movie a disservice. Plus Captain America was a good movie, just remaking it with a female lead isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Joking aside, the movie was good. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. I bought Batman/Superman on Blu Ray just because I wanted to check out the extended edition and I kind of have to own every Batman movie since he is one of my favorite comic book characters. That being said, I haven’t even opened the movie let alone re-watched it.

I wasn’t that familiar with the WW back story, I knew there are a lot of connections in the DC universe to Greek mythology so that was to be expected. My first complaint though was the need to tell her backstory, which I understand this was the film to do that in, but I hate when they start off with a flashback in a flashback, just get on with the movie. It definitely dragged on longer than I wanted.

The story was pretty good, it was basically at it’s core just a rehash of Captain America: The First Avenger, with a DC twist, so don’t go into this movie expecting more than that. The major differences being the Marvel movie dealt with science and the DC movie dealt with Greek gods, Cap was set in WWII fighting Nazi’s and WW was set in WWI fighting the pre-Nazi Germans. Other than that there were so many scenes taken directly from Cap I thought I was re-watching that movie at times. One thing this movie did better was the character build up, the characters had more heart in this than the Marvel counterpart and I think that made this one more urgent. Also the opening fight when she first reveals herself to the German soldiers was not only done much better than anything in the Marvel movie, it was very emotional for the people verses just fighting for a cause, she wasn’t just fighting to stop evil, there were people’s lives at stake and she cared about the people whereas Cap was about the ideology.

I wish that was were the differences ended but even the final battle just reminded me so much of the Captain America movie, it even involved a sort of super weapon on an war plane that ended very similar to how the Marvel film ended. It wasn’t exactly the same but I saw so many parallels I really thought that DC just took Marvels movie and thought it best to just remake it as close as they could.

The final boss fight was underwhelming for me though. It felt like the banter and the showing off of powers dragged on too long. The villain wasn’t just doing the normal bad guy speech, he was practically quoting a book on how to justify being evil. I won’t spoil the ending or the big reveal, if it even is a big reveal, but at least the villain was more interesting than a stereotypical German scientist trying to create a super weapon for Hitler.

The comedy, or humor if you will, wasn’t bad, much better than anything they did in the previous two films in this now ongoing franchise. Some of it felt a little like you had to read the comics to get, which was kind of a turn off since you didn’t really get enough time with the characters to understand their quips. Especially the secretary. Sure it was a funny line, but a WWI female British secretary makes that kind of comment about her American soldier boss and there wouldn’t have been a smile on his face, she would have been reprimanded. There obviously was some history between the characters, or you are left to assume so, otherwise it smashes your sense of realism. I can accept throwing gods and mutants into historical events but if you throw modern sensibilities it’s not historical anymore, it’s border line offensive and at the very least alternate reality. Of course you have to sort of accept it as an alternate reality but even the comics were a product of their time so I just felt that scene was mishandled, especially with the one a few minutes later reminding the audience how male dominated that society was at the time when Diana interrupts a meeting of the generals.

Minor issues of historical accuracy aside, and I can put some things aside to enjoy a movie easy enough, that was really my only real issue with the film and even that was so minor I only bring it up because I just finished watching Mad Men and had that stuff on my mind. It didn’t bring the film down just was out of place, or at least needed some context in order to make sense.

Moving on, and I don’t want to nitpick the film to death, my only other complaint was the ruse. I understand they had to have a ‘mad scientist’ villain because that’s what you expect when the bad guys are German. However, the scientist character was so out of place in the movie I just didn’t really accept it either. The general that was pulling her strings was a brooding enough villain but the scientist just didn’t have any motivation, or character at all. I also won’t get too into why the Germans hired a disfigured female scientist to develop their secret weapon during male-dominated WWI culture, because I just don’t care if the film makers want to throw any sense of historical accuracy out the window they you just have to go with it.

I know there were there woman scientists, even the Indiana Jones movies had female antagonists serving the “evil Nazi’s,” but they all made sense in the context, this character walked around like she owned the place in a mans world at a time when women did no such thing. They made it sound like she was the most evil and terrifying mad scientist on the planet, but then you never see her do anything to really make you think sure be afraid of this woman. Every time she kills someone, the brooding general is there looking over her shoulder, so I would have thought his reputation as a no morals general willing to use the skills of this woman would be the real story the men would be telling, not how afraid they were of the woman who developed the weapon, but the general who used it. I don’t know I don’t want to sound like a SJW or a ultra right winger, I prefer historical accuracy and those two things bothered me. The rest of the movie was great. Again neither of them brought it down but what the hell they were on my mind and worth bringing up.

All that aside I enjoyed the movie and if my only complaints are minor nitpicks then I can get passed them and enjoy the rest of the film. Overall the story was good, the special effects were good, the characters weren’t entirely developed but they served a purpose and it all fit together nicely. It wasn’t good enough to erase my dislike of the previous two films, so I am still not sold on the upcoming Justice League movie, but it was, so far, the best standalone super hero movie DC/Warner Bros. has made since The Dark Knight, which was almost ten years ago. Overall I give the movie a 5/5 there wasn’t anything that really made me dislike the movie, it was emotional it had good action and it really only had minor things that a history buff like me would nitpick which bother me but every movie has those things so they don’t reduce my enjoyment just stick out in my mind. That said it’s a good movie, I think easily the best movie in the trilogy so far and from what I have seen might end up being the best film DC puts out in this ill-fated attempt to cash in on Marvel’s success.