Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

I’ll start with the bad: there’s no Stan Lee cameo in this film. That’s weird, it’s the end of an era. A definitive part of these movies will now no longer happen. You’re so used to it that you expect it, then when it doesn’t happen you remember why, and it’s kind of depressing. But enough about sadness, onto this post-genocide film. This is the first film in the MCU to come out after Endgame, so a lot of eyes are on it. It’s also the first one after Iron Man and Captain America have left. So this needed to be great. Anything less than that would leave it being dubbed a failure. Thankfully this is great, simply great. The story is fantastic. I mean, everybody who knows anything about comic books knows that Mysterio would actually turn out to be the bad guy, so when that happens it’s not exactly a surprise. Jake Gyllenhaal continues to remind you that he’s actually really good. Not as good as he was in Nightcrawler, but good enough to annoy you that he’s not in more films.

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Continuing my theory that all good looking people are evil.

The way they do it is pretty damn great though, featuring callbacks to characters you probably don’t even remember existing. It also continues the emerging relationship between Peter Parker and MJ in an incredibly sweet way that will melt the coldest of hearts. A similar heart-warming moment occurs between Ned and Betty Brant. Oh, I guess I should talk about spoilers. I can’t talk about this film without mentioning spoilers. Particularly for the mid-credits scene. Tbh I have been kind of underwhelmed with quite a few of them. They’ve mostly been jokes or otherwise moments which didn’t feel worth waiting for, the notable exception being the Ant-Man And The Wasp mid-credits, which used the mid-credits scene to not only provide an emotional gut-punch, but also make you genuinely excited about what happens next. This tops it. The first one anyway. The second one shows that Nick Fury hasn’t been Nick Fury, he’s actually been one of the Skrulls from Captain Marvel this entire film (you do have to wonder how long that has been going on, how many times in films has Nick Fury not actually been Nick Fury?). This is kind of interesting for the future as it shows how he’s preparing to set up an earth defence system.

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Don’t know what it is but I imagine it will be more sophisticated than this

But it’s the one before that which is the most interesting: J. Jonah Jameson turns up! Not as a newspaper editor, but as some kind of internet “news” prick like Alex Jones. He plays doctored footage which implicates that Spider-Man committed mass murder. He then shows a video of Mysterio announcing Spider-mans real name. Well, he goes “Spider-mans real name is Pe-” and then it cuts out. You think it’s salvageable. You feel safe. Then it comes back “real name is Peter Parker” then shows a picture of him. This is a huge game-changer for the character. But you know what? I REALLY wish it happened earlier. Just imagine if the two Spider-Man films were somehow earlier, and this happened whilst Tony Stark was still alive. This leads to Peter Parker becoming hated by the world, Tony tries to protect him but Captain America thinks he’s guilty. THIS kicks off Civil War, leads to characters dying, and the guilt of that stays on the conscience of Peter Parker. Then the guilt on Captain America when he has that realisation that he’s been leading a war against a teenager. The emotion of that “shit, I wasn’t thinking, I was a complete prick” moment would have been off the charts. I would have loved that, and not because of how disappointed I was with the lack of consequences from Civil War. Now, that’s all well and good, but who has to play Jameson? JK Simmons was the PERFECT casting for that role and is the best part of the original Spider-Man trilogy. I may not be a big fan of those movies, but I have to admit they nailed that and anybody replacing him would have to try VERY hard to delete JK Simmons from peoples memories. Which poor bastard is replacing him? Luckily they got the perfect replacement. This guy is not better or worse than JK Simmons, but is on the same level. Once you watch this movie, you won’t be able to unsee this guy as Jameson. Instead of JK Simmons, we have……..

JK Simmons

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I know, I’m crying with joy too

Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

So yeah, go see it, it’s brilliant, and sets up the next stage perfectly, shit’s changing, and it’s going to be great to see.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)

I’m always wary when people describe films as “one of the worst of the year”, particularly when it comes to films with female leads (the new Ghostbusters, for example, was at worst, inoffensive and bland, yet received the vitriol usually reserved for a fart at a funeral). Let me reassure you, this film is as bad as you have heard. I haven’t seen anything this bad since the new Hellboy. In fact, I think this might be worse, it seems to fail in every single aspect of what makes a film good.

1. It Doesn’t Fit The X-Men Timeline

Like, at all. People criticise the MCU for being inconsistent with timelines, but this just takes the piss. Let’s get the obvious out of the way; so there are essentially two X-men timelines in terms of cast, right? There’s the old one (which is technically the new one as the films are all set in the present day), with Patrick Stewart etc. Then there are the new ones (which are the old ones as they’re prequels) starring McAvoy etc. The first Stewart film was set in 2000, whereas the McAvoy ones start in 1962, this one is set in 1992, so 8 years away from Stewart, but 30 away from McAvoy, so obviously they use the McAvoy casting group. That’s f*cking weird.

2. Pulls A Snyder

As I’ve probably before when mentioning Batman Vs. Superman etc, Zack Snyder has a very specific problem with his directing style: he creates good looking shots, but to get to them people do very stupid things. This film has a tendency to do the same thing, well, it attempts to, it forgets to do the “make the actual shot look good” part, so you end up with shots which they build up illogically. One in particular that stands out is when they’re rescuing people in space, and one of the X-Men exits the spaceship to save someone and ends up just floating in space, holding one of the other characters (presumed) lifeless body, and instead of going straight back to the ship (you know, where they can breathe), he just stays staring there for like 10 seconds.

3. The dialogue.

The dialogue here is, well it’s not good. It has some of the worst dialogue Jennifer Lawrence has ever had to utter (which considering she was in Serena, really takes something). There’s one line in particular is cringeworthy:

“We’ve saved you so many times, maybe you ought to rename us X-Women”

This comes immediately after a scene where two male characters are integral to saving lives, so it makes NO sense and is just there to get a “woo” moment from the audience. It also wastes the one F-Bomb they have, wasting it on a character who delivers it with all the menace of strawberry yoghurt. Completely wasted, he delivers it flatly, and none of the characters even respond to it.

4. Wasting characters.

It’s not just the f-word they waste. They have Quicksilver, who is one of the best characters in the franchise (and handled A LOT better in this series than it was in the MCU), and they decide to sideline him for most of the film. This is really weird as just after that they kill off Mystique (Apparently, because Jennifer Lawrence didn’t want to play the character anymore). Now, this is tipped to be the last movie in the franchise, so wouldn’t it have made more sense to kill Quicksilver, and sideline Mystique?

5. Wastes Ideas

One of the most frustrating parts of this film is it occasionally flirts with interesting concepts. The biggest one is that Xavier has become ego-driven and affected by fame. Which is another idea; at the start of this film the X-Men are heroes, with a direct line to the US government. How will these characters react to finally being loved and adored? No idea, this film throws that aside.

6. The Story

There’s no compelling villain in this film. The main villain isn’t actually Jean Grey, as the marketing suggests. She is for some of the film, and then she suddenly has a face turn and the villain becomes someone who she gave some of her power too. So essentially she’s a less powerful version of one of the main characters. So there’s no sense of drama, at all. She belongs to an alien race who are never really explained. We’re given their name and a VERY short backstory. How short? Put it this way, the detail they’re given is less than the detail we STILL get every time they reboot Batman. It’s also never explained why they already have important government positions before the invasion. The final third was rewritten, and you can tell.

7. Everyone is an idiot.

Well, I say everyone, the government gave Magneto his own land. That’s Magneto, who has tried to overthrow the US government multiple times, and basically attempted genocide. Why would the government give him land? It makes no sense.

8. It’s too late.

This is a poor end to the franchise. Which is a shame as this franchise already had the perfect closer: Logan. That is genuinely one of the greatest superhero films ever, and the perfect goodbye. That film gave the franchise a lot of good will, which has now been thrown away in this, this, this, REALLY bad film. It’s REALLY bad. And the fact it came after Logan (and is the first superhero film to come out since Endgame), just makes it seem even worse.

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

So, that’s it, as close to a season finale the MCU has had yet, this film genuinely feels like closure for a lot of the characters. A fitting closure too, it completes a lot of story arcs which have been running since 2008. Whilst there’s been a few missteps along the way it’s generally accepted that the films have been of high quality and with interacting storylines to keep you invested (even if they weren’t as carefully crafted as they needed to be at times, with major plot holes and continuity errors between separate films). I did love this film, I really enjoyed it, and didn’t feel it outstayed its welcome (which considering it is 3 hours long, really says something). It deserves the praise it’s getting, but I still can’t help but feel slightly disappointed, not with what happened, but with now can’t happen. Like I wish they pushed the Civil War storyline further, as it is it never really felt like a proper division between two sets, it always felt temporary and outside of Civil War itself, kind of small. It never had that urge of paranoia, you never felt like the heroes against registration were under any threat (with the possible exception of Ant-Man in Ant-Man And The Wasp). If you look at the movies after Civil War:

  1. Doctor Strange (completely unaffected by Civil War as not recognised by the government)
  2. Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 (In space so unaffected)
  3. Spider-Man (pro-registration but didn’t affect the movie much. This is annoying as a big part of the Civil War comics was Spider-Man unmasking and revealing his identity, nothing similar to that has happened in this universe since the first Iron Man movie, and that was clearly Tony Starks decision, there’s no “forced to reveal identity” moments yet.)
  4. Thor: Ragnarok. (Again, in space)
  5. Black Panther (not as affected by the Registration Act as it could have been)
  6. Ant-Man And The Wasp (The most affected, but not essential)
  7. Infinity War (just causes a slight “we need to find this person” moment)
  8. Captain Marvel (Set in the past)

To be honest, I can’t even remember if the Act passed at the end of Civil War. That’s how little it’s affected the movies, and that can not be fixed now, it’s too late for it to start coming into effect now, and that’s disappointing. The other thing I’m disappointed in is that there were no post-snap movies. Ok, yeah, technically all movies now are post-snap, but they’re also going to be set after the resolution. There should have been a film between them, so many villain origin stories start with them losing their families, and yet the perfect opportunity for one now won’t happen (oh, spoilers, the people killed by the snap come back, but 5 years have passed in this world so they will be 5 years younger than they should be when they come back, I REALLY hope they make a big point of this in future films). We mostly saw how the snap affected heroes, we didn’t get much of it affecting the world, the opening scenes were done to show that, but the audience isn’t as invested in that as they should be as they’re sitting there waiting for everyone to get revenge on Thanos. Can you imagine how much more effective it would have been if there was an entire movie set in that world? The chaos, the frustration, the paranoia, the fear, the bastards using it to make money, the conspiracy theories! Do ordinary people know it was Thanos? As far as most of them saw, half the world just disappeared with no explanation. The only way they’d know it was Thanos is if someone put out a press release, which I can’t really see happening somehow. So can you imagine the conspiracy theories that would arise from that? It would be INSANE, and yet we will never find out (although I am thinking of writing a short Marvel story set in that universe, just to express that idea).

I know I haven’t spoken much about this film, but I feel if you wanted to see it, you would have seen it already, there’s nothing I can say in this review that will change that. Also, the entire internet has opinions on it and has expressed them better than I could. They’ve been right; it’s emotional as hell, full to the brim with references and fan-service, things are paid off which you didn’t even realise they were setting up, and most characters get their time to shine. It’s not perfect though; Captain Marvel seems misused, only seeming to exist as a Deus Ex Machina, and she’s involved in one of the most cringy moments of the franchise so far which is clearly designed to get a reaction in the cinema but is so false it seems like pandering. Despite how many characters are included, some rather important ones are missing with not even a mention. Also if you think about some aspects of the plot for too long it does seem to fall apart slightly.

But despite that, I highly recommend it, so far it’s been the best example of spectacle so far this year, and I doubt even the Godzilla movie could top it