Spider-Man: Far From Home Makes the Villain Matter

by Banned Library in


Halfway through Spider-Man: Far From Home I turned to the person next to me and said, "I think this movie just shifted into high gear." In response, her boyfriend leaned over and said, "Stop talking to my girlfriend during the movie." After that I kept my comments about how better the effects and villain get once the whole story is laid out.

     After the effects of Thanos's Snap and Unsnappening in the Avengers films, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) just wants to have a nice European vacation. He's gonna see some sights. Take some pictures. Tell MJ (Zendaya) how he feels about her. Too bad for them, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) need his help to beat some elemental apocalypse creatures with some leftover Tony Stark tech.

     With Spider-Man: Homecoming, Jon Watts proved he could weave a good story around kids and superheroics. Having already proved he can deal with menacing figures going against children in the not-too-talked about Cop Car, he almost cookie cut the menace from Kevin Bacon in that film onto Michael Keaton's Vulture. Here he ziggs a bit, implying the gravitas in Mysterio while undercutting it with a twist that comics readers will see coming but is thrilling anyway. When Mysterio proves himself to not be the gracious mentor but a scheming actor, Gyllenhaal gets to stretch villainous side, not pure evil like he showed in Nightcrawler but the laughing menace Tom Cruise showed in Magnolia. He's a showman with a dark side and that resonates far more than dark and cackling.

     When Mysterio shows his true colors, the movie really comes alive. Until that second act reveal, most of the action and effects seemed lackluster. Possible big budget fatigue, but the giant water monster and the backpack wearing Peter Parker in a carnival mask looked cartoonish. Then Mysterio's effects to disorient and play with Parker's senses turn the effects budget up to eleven, providing sequences that rival Doctor Strange's multiverse and Ant-Man's microverse effects for "man I wish I was in college and on drugs right now" effect. The amazing hallucination effects fall apart once you think about how we are shown dozens of people work to make the other effects possible but handwaving plots is Marvel's true superpower.

     Unfortunately, all Marvel's bad traits are on display here as well. As cool as the hallucination sequence is, it and all the other fight scenes are chopped to hell. No matter how much money the John Wick franchise makes proving good action have to be seen, Marvel still cuts too quick and too often to get a good feel about how particular fights are going. Nowhere is this more clear than the ending battle on the London Bridge with Spider-Man going against a bunch of drones. It's mostly dull with misdirection and confusing more than it is thrilling.

     Walking out of the theater dodging that guy and his girlfriend, I have to say I enjoyed the movie overall. A fun movie containing enough pathos to move us through the end of Phase 4 of this big weird money-making experiment. Mysterio himself also hints at bigger and better things, being an effective villain not in his over schemes in this film, but the secrets he lets out after his defeat. Whereas the Vulture kept Parker's secret identity, Mysterio let that secret fly and the implications are fascinating to think about.

Check it out before it leaves theaters




Guardians of the Galaxy and Thanos Were the Heart of Avengers: Infinity War

by Banned Library in


Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Captain America all got an entry when talking about the two and a half hour Avengers: Infinity War in past blogs. Now I'm gonna zone in on the two areas that, for me, formed what is wrong and right about the movie: Guardians of the Galaxy and Thanos.

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Hulk Proves Avengers: Infinity War is Half an Idea

by Banned Library in


Avengers: Infinity War reviews are fun to write because there's just so much. Over the last few days, I covered that I don't like spoilers, that Iron Man learned that fighting back was useless, and that Thor unlearned everything he had learned from his movies. Now we're gonna get into Bruce Banner and his alter ego Hulk and really learn that this movie is kinda unreviewable.

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Iron Man and Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Had People Keep Showing Up

by Banned Library in


The review so long that I split it up. Here we have an overview of my feelings on spoilers, Spider-Man, and Iron Man’s portion of the film. More to come!

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Rampage (2018) felt too self aware that it was a big animal fight club movie

by Banned Library in


Look, I'm gonna say it so nobody else has to: people like to watch animals fight. Man vs Man is the most common of our movie going experiences, but the wide world out there in real life pits man against beast, chicken versus chicken, dog versus dog, and tortoise versus hare. With Rampage, we see a full acknowledgement of this with The Rock versus Flying Porcupine Wolf, Warthog Alligator, and Big Ape.

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A Quiet Place (2018) makes a loud impression. See what I did? Fun with antonyms

by Banned Library in


I'll admit it, I laughed out loud at the opening to this flick. It's in the trailer, sort of, so spoiler alert or whatever but when that kid got ate I put out a nice loud "ha!" I'm not saying I'm not damaged, I'm just saying that shit was funny after a dozen trailers of build up. It's nice to be surprised once in awhile.

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Death of Stalin (2017) will make you cackle if you have the patience to believe that it will make you cackle

by Banned Library in


Historic dramas have always been money in the bank. Get some well known actor, cover him in old looking stuff, and tell a fake story involving true people. Drama ensues because that's what people make. Get two or more people together and they shit themselves with drama. Historic comedies, though, are super rare because nobody wants to make people important enough to talk about into a bunch of raging assholes, aka real people. Death of Stalin doesn't mind so much.

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Dog Day Afternoon (1975) might be the best non-heist movie of all time

by Banned Library in


A group of criminals with a plan find themselves in problem solving mode when everything goes wrong. That's the definition of most heist movies. The leads are charismatic, the side characters are quirky, and the plot often leads with a slow clap. That's how they did it, you say, and walk from the theater thinking if only you could be that cool. Dog Day Afternoon is what would happen if you actually did try a heist.

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Muppets Most Wanted (2014) goes on a trip and doesn't really go anywhere

by Banned Library in


When the Muppets came back with the big movie that won music awards and had Amy Adams in it, I had a hell of a lot of hope. They were my touchstone from childhood that over the years kinda became that thing I used to like. When Jason Segel and the crew came back, they filled it with heart and joy that I remembered from before Henson left us. Then those creative people left and we got the corporate mandated Muppets Most Wanted.

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) really kinda scared me in an old fun way

by Banned Library in


Horror often gets its balls cut off. Many of the entries in the genre are just this side of comedy, relegated even to jokes like the Chuckie scene in Ready Player One. True horror, the existential dread of life, seems to have been pushed aside in favor of jump scares and cheering when teenagers get hacked apart. Few movies contemplate a horror like the Autopsy of Jane Doe.

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