Review for Spider-Man: Far From Home & Spider-Man: Homecoming
I wasn’t going to get this. For me, two cinematic iterations of the iconic webslinger, three if you count the Spider-verse animation were enough. And when I watched Homecoming on television over Christmas, I wasn’t impressed with the first Spider-man movie set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But here I am anyway, grabbing the first two films featuring Tom Holland as Peter Parker on Blu-ray. You see, I’ve got to prepare for the third film, Spider-man No Way Home, coming later this year, as it seems, despite all the coy denials and sly misdirects on social media, that the Spider-verse is now coming to live action, and with classic villains from the first two versions already announced, as well as the return of J. Jonah Jameson as brought to life by J. K. Simmons, we just might see Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield spinning webs alongside Tom Holland later this year. Forget the Infinity War; this is my Marvel holy grail. And that’s why I’m watching Homecoming again on Blu-ray, as well as taking in Far From Home for the first time.
You get two discs on either inner face of a BD Amaray case.
Introduction: Spider-man Homecoming
Having helped Tony Stark to deal with Captain America in Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker found himself a mentor, and a snazzy new suit, but rather than being invited to join the Avengers, Stark tells him to stay focused on school, and keep a low profile, dealing with petty crimes in his local neighbourhood rather than try and make an impact. School is tough enough as it is, although he has his best friend Ned to hang out with. They’re both considered geeks and losers, although he’s on the Academic Decathlon team, not that he has the time to take part, when he’s hanging on the phone, waiting for Stark to call. Naturally there is time to crush on a girl though, with the captain of the Decathlon team, Liz.
But trouble is brewing. Eight years previously, when the Avengers first Assembled, an extra-dimensional alien invasion of New York was thwarted, but a whole lot of alien tech was left behind. Blue collar worker Adrian Toomes and his company were contracted to salvage it, but at the last minute the government swooped in and threw him off the job. So Toomes went into business for himself, illegally grabbing and adapting the alien tech to sell. Now as the Vulture he makes a comfortable living selling alien weapons to small time criminals. And someone just tried to rob a bank in Peter’s neighbourhood using ray guns.
The Disc: Spider-man Homecoming
Spider-man Homecoming gets a 2.39:1 widescreen 1080p presentation with DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English and Italian, DD 5.1 Surround Telugu, Hindi, and Tamil and English Audio Descriptive with English and Italian subtitles. I have no complaints about this presentation, clear and sharp with excellent detail and rich colour, and with a nice, immersive audio experience that makes the most of the action, while keeping the dialogue clear. Oddly enough, I thought that this film had the worst Spider-man CGI yet, making the titular character look like a rubber band boy. It seems we’ve gone a long way backwards since Tobey Maguire first donned the suit.
Extras: Spider-man Homecoming
The disc boots to an animated menu, following a trailer for the extra features on the disc, which autoplay after the end of the movie.
The Spidey Study Guide is a pop-up trivia track during the film.
Gag Reel (2:17)
Deleted and Extended Scenes x10 (16:17)
A Tangled Web (6:11)
Searching For Spider-man (8:04)
Spidey Stunts (5:48)
The Vulture Takes Flight (6:01)
Jon Watts: Head of the Class (5:29)
Pros and Cons of Spider-man (3:28)
Rappin’ with Cap x4 (2:26)
Spiderman Homecoming VR Trailer (1:38)
An Inside Look at Marvel’s Spiderman PS4 (2:45)
Conclusion: Spider-man Homecoming
I wholly enjoy Spider-man Homecoming, but I still can’t help seeing those flaws that throw me out of the experience to a degree. It’s a fun, action filled, comic book movie that has a good story to it, some appealing and inventive action sequences, and plenty of likeable characters. And yet, I can’t help wanting to change its name to Iron Man Jr. It just doesn’t feel like a Spider-man movie to me.
A lot of that is down to the changes made to the formula. For one thing, Spider-man’s entry into the MCU has left no space for the origin story. We meet Parker post spider-bite, and post Uncle trauma. The film wastes no time on setting up a character that has already had two bites at that particular apple. The film also dispenses with the angst resulting from that origin tale. This is a Peter Parker who enjoys being Spider-man, has no guilt left over to deal with, and he’s having fun being a high school student (the film doesn’t race past this part of his life to his college years as the previous two iterations did). And all of this is good. There is an energy and a joie de vivre to the film that sets it apart from what has come before. Also, Aunt May is a hottie.
Being part of the MCU, this Peter Parker has grown up in a world of superheroes and villains, and strange, extra-terrestrial events. He’s not exactly alone in his journey, and he has role models to look toward, and in Tony Stark a mentor. And this is where the film falls down for me. Spider-man has always been quick with the quips and one-liners as he battles evil, but in this universe the position of sarcastic saviour has already been taken by Iron Man. It already makes Spider-man look like a knock-off to begin with, and given that he’s now mentored by Tony Stark, who’s trying to be some sort of father figure to Peter, makes the adoration even more saccharine. And then the Spidey-suit starts to talk. You can see why I call this film Iron Man Jr.
The film is redeemed somewhat by Vulture, the villain played by Michael Keaton. They manage to give him an appealing arc, the blue collar worker looking out for his men, stiffed out of a lucrative contract by the government, and so going into business for himself. He’s a guy who starts off with good intentions, but by the time we catch up to him in the present day, he’s been corrupted by greed into a psychopath. Given that eventually a connection is revealed to Peter, the potential might have been there for him to be a Norman Osborn type figure, but in the end there is no shared back-story between them, which makes for an important and vivid distinction from the earlier Spider-man movies.
I like Spider-man Homecoming, and it gets a decent Blu-ray release, even if the extras feel somewhat perfunctory. But it doesn’t feel like a Spider-man movie to me. I think they tweaked the basic formula a little too much to make it fit in with the MCU.
Introduction: Spider-man Far From Home
Since the events of Avengers: Endgame, the world has been coming to terms with the loss of so many heroes. And Peter Parker has to re-evaluate his role as Spider-man; whether or not he is a worthy successor to Tony Stark and Iron Man. Actually, his more immediate focus is on the oncoming school science trip to Europe, and a chance to get closer to MJ. He certainly doesn’t want to take any calls from Nick Fury, who wants him to live up to his responsibilities as an Avenger.
At their first stop in Venice, the group’s sightseeing is interrupted by a giant water Elemental attacking from the waterways, and Spider-man’s webbing isn’t exactly effective against water. Fortunately there is a new hero in town, Mysterio a.k.a. Quentin Beck, arrived from an Earth of another dimension which has already been laid waste by the Elementals. Nick Fury wants Spider-man and Mysterio to work together against the invaders, and he’ll go as far as diverting the school trip to places more liable to be attacked.
The Disc: Spider-man Far From Home
Spider-man Far From Home gets a 2.39:1 widescreen 1080p transfer, with DTS-HD MA 7.1 Surround English, DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Spanish, and DD 5.1 Surround English Audio Descriptive and Thai. There are subtitles in these languages and Cantonese, Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, Malay, and Vietnamese. I’ve got nothing to complain about here, as the film gets an impeccable transfer, clear and sharp, with strong, consistent colours. The audio is excellent, really immersive, making the most of the action, while keeping the dialogue clear. And compared to the first film, the digital Spider-man is brilliantly done, seamless and looking genuinely human in how the character interacts with the environment. It’s a far cry from the rubber feeling Spider-man of Homecoming.
Extras: Spider-man Far From Home
The disc boots to an animated menu following trailers for Spider-man into the Spider-verse, and Alex Rider, as well as a promo for the extras on this disc. Those extras are as follows.
Peter’s To Do List – A Short Film (3:22)
Gag Reel & Outtakes (3:35)
Deleted & Alternate Scenes x5 (6:07)
Teachers’ Travel Tips (4:58)
The Jump Off (6:19)
Stepping Up (3:42)
Suit Up (4:38)
Now You See Me (6:30)
Far, Far, Far From Home (5:14)
It Takes Two (3:09)
Fury & Hill (3:29)
The Ginter-Rizu Effect (1:32)
Thank You, Mrs Parker (3:35)
Stealthy Easter Eggs (4:23)
The Brothers Trust (11:44)
Select Scene Pre-Vis x5 (8:20)
Conclusion: Spider-man Far From Home
I owe Homecoming an apology. I facetiously called it Iron Man Jr. saying that it just didn’t feel like a Spider-man movie to me. I attributed it to clumsy scripting, a cut and paste approach to characterisation, when in actuality it was a story direction with a long term plan, a deliberate development, which is followed up in an interesting way in this film, Far From Home. That’s the problem with the MCU, it’s all about the big picture, and how the films all fit together. And given where this film begins, you’ll be deprived of the full value if you haven’t seen Avengers Infinity War and Endgame. As it is, if you want to avoid spoilers, Spider-man Far From Home begins with a roll call of fallen heroes. I’m coming from that place too, not having seen those two climactic Avengers films, so Far From Home will have to do some extra work to grab my attention. And by gum, this film really grabbed my attention!
Spider-man Far From Home tells a great story, and is full of the action and excitement that you’d expect from a Spider-man film, while effectively developing the characters, all flavoured with a great sense of humour. With so much of the lore established by the first film, as well as the relationships (although the whole Peter MJ relationship must have kicked off in the Avengers films), we’re straight into the action and the story, establishing the villains of the piece, the Elementals and the new hero Mysterio before we actually rejoin Peter Parker, all eager for his school trip, while trying to figure out just where Spider-man fits into this new world. Given that he tries leaving his suit behind when packing for Europe, it’s clear he’s totally ambivalent about it, while seeing Tony Stark memorialised on every billboard doesn’t help.
It’s almost like Superman giving up his powers to be with Lois Lane in Superman II, only there’s no loss of power here, just a philosophical choice between being an Avenger, and being a friendly neighbourhood Spider-man. And then all hell starts breaking loose in Europe. Personally this aspect of the film impressed me most, although it’s a spoiler to really talk about the real threat in this film. But given all the extra-terrestrial and super-powered menaces faced in the majority of MCU films, where Far From Home goes with its villains is a lot more grounded and refreshing. It’s similar to Vulture in Homecoming, although he was using alien tech to empower his gang and make a profit.
Naturally there are plenty of touches and references that will tickle the Spider-man and MCU fanbase, not least the mention of the Multiverse, which looks as if it will be explored in the next film. Spider-man Far From Home is one of the best films featuring the character, up there with Tobey Maguire’s Spider-man 2. The extras might feel a little bitty again, but the disc really impresses when it comes to the AV.
If I had just gone on the strength of Homecoming, I would never have tried this twin-pack. It’s the effect of having seen the Spider-man Into the Spider-verse animation, coupled with the strong implication that the third Tom Holland Spider-man movie will cover similar territory that made me get these two films. Watching Far From Home for the first time, and seeing the way the story develops has made me re-evaluate my opinion for Homecoming as well, and I certainly feel more positive about it taking the two films together. I really am looking forward to Spider-man No Way Home now. This MCU continuity thing has its high points, doesn’t it?