Spider-Man: Far from Home
Spider-Man kisses the pretty girl again in the ninth chapter of his lucrative web.
But this time it’s eyes wide open. He’s not hanging upside down – and no mask.
Spider-Man gets the girl – a very bright young lady, for the record. Careful not to call her pretty – might not go well.
So, I’m never quite sure how to review a movie like “Spider-Man: Far from Home.”
Let’s pause for a meta moment.
Instead of talking about the movie, let’s talk about talking about movies.
We film critics – and I’ve been enjoying this for 43 years, 29 in Helena – must make choices about framing our reviews.
Just who, exactly, are we chatting with? Specifically, with a franchise movie like “Spider-Man,” there are at least four audiences out there.
First, there are The Believers, those who wish Spider-Man would hang upside down outside their bedroom window with lips pursed: ones willingly caught in the web.
Next, there are the Marvelous Moviegoers, the super-hero aficionados, who follow everything that’s happening in whatever universe they visit, notably Marvel and DC.
Then comes indie moviegoers who spend their movie dollars cautiously, selectively. They’re happy to see a film, but if and only if it’s definitively worth the money. They love independent cinema, where illumination is the goal, not profit. They’ll patiently wait for Netflix.
Finally, comes a group I’m particularly fond of: Readers.
Readers will follow a writer anywhere, even if they never intend to see a movie. What these people want is a thoughtful insight about life or a well-crafted paragraph or, perhaps, just a breezy read. They feel as if they are friends with the critics, even if they’ve never met. If Julie Andrews remakes “Sound of Music” returns, they’ll go.
Fair warning: Readers will abandon a review quickly, if it doesn’t deliver the goods. (Are you still out there?)
“Spider-Man: Far from Home” is a movie mostly made for the spider fans. It’s traveling quickly down the web, assuming we can sort out one sticky strand from the next. It’s hiding Easter Eggs everywhere, with winks at fans. I suspect believers will believe. A number of critics have already christened this film as belonging in the top tier of the Spider-Man movies … maybe third best?
But what about the rest of us? Those who aren’t addicted to a franchise. We need a reason to go.
And this chapter just doesn’t provide much meat for those who don’t live on the Web – Spider-Man’s web, that is. The romance is the most accessible thread. She’s strong and smart, and not intimidated by super-heroes.
In this latest chapter, Spider-Man will save the world, get the girl and, along the way, acknowledge the universe where he resides: Marvel. He’ll also start wearing Tony Stark glasses, for more than fashion.
We will find references to other characters, other films, ongoing ideas – all which will be appreciated by the believers, and probably not noticed by most others.
So, let’s reduce this to four quick targeted reviews:
Believers: Yes, go. It’s a top-tier addition to the franchise. The Tony Stark glasses will delight you.
Marvelous: Yes, go. It’s a new planet in the universe, rotating around the sun quite nicely. The Easter Eggs pointing to Marvelous moments will entertain you. “Endgame” evolves into a New Game.
Indies: Probably not. No real insight, acting is not memorable. Romance is smart, sweet. Friendships are cute. I might have nudged you towards “Black Panther” or “Endgame,” but not “Far From Home.”
Readers: Well, you don’t go to movies often anyway, but the dive into meta was meant for you. If you’re still with me, still reading, one last thanks.