Spider-Man: Far From Home

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 10/1/19;
Sony Pictures/Marvel;
Action;
Box Office $389.86 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated’PG-13’ for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments.
Stars Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zendaya, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, Martin Starr, JB Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, Tony Revolori, Peter Billingsley, Marisa Tomei.

Well, that could have been awkward.

Amid reports that Sony Pictures and Disney would not renew their landmark deal to share Spider-Man, the home video release of the latest film featuring the character looked to be in the unenviable position of reminding audiences just how valuable the partnership had been, both from a financial and a creative standpoint.

And since Spider-Man: Far From Home ends with a cliffhanger that recasts the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Spidey’s place within it, a fresh viewing of the film under the shadow of its sequel potentially not being connected to the MCU only puts a more glaring spotlight on the impasse, much to the disappointment of fans. The bonus materials accompanying the release don’t sidestep the issues, either, with direct discussions of Spidey’s impact on the MCU (particularly the four-minute “Stepping Up” featurette).

Fortunately, such prospects were avoided with the news of a new agreement to allow Marvel to make a proper sequel, completing a trilogy with Tom Holland as the title character at the very least, and paving the way for whatever Sony has planned for the character down the road.

And that’s very good news indeed, as Far From Home offers a spectacular adventure, from the perspective of both a Spider-Man story and the 23rd chapter of the MCU (serving as the epilogue of Phase 3).

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With the world adjusting to the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker (Holland) and his high school class take a summer trip to Europe, where Peter hopes to relax, take some time away from being Spider-Man, and explore a relationship with MJ (Zendaya). Unfortunately, he is recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to help Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) battle a threat from another dimension. As Peter struggles to balance his personal and superhero lives, he is confronted by the legacy of Tony Stark.

But as Peter questions what his place within that legacy is, he learns that things are not what they seem, forcing him to step up to become the hero he was destined to be.

The film looks great, blending scenic European locales with dazzling visual effects to create an eye-popping piece of entertainment.

Holland remains one of the most likeable stars of the MCU, handling with ease whatever challenges the movie throws at him. Gyllenhaal makes for an engaging Mysterio, an effective counterbalance to Peter’s crisis of confidence. Far From Home features a lot of surprises, both in terms of how the story unfolds and in references to earlier Marvel movies.

As with the previous film in this particular franchise, 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, the villains are remnants of Stark’s actions in prior films, which has left some fans a bit miffed that the MCU Spider-Man seems more like an Iron Man Jr. cleaning up Stark’s messes. There is some truth to that, but within the context of the story of the films, it works really well.

The Blu-ray also includes what is billed as a new original short, but it’s essentially a three-and-a-half minute deleted scene of Peter preparing for his vacation, clips of which were used in some of the earliest Far From Home trailers.

Separately, the disc includes another six minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, plus a three-and-a-half-minute gag reel.

The four-and-a-half-minute “Stealthy Easter Eggs” featurette shows off some of the film’s hidden references, while the five-minute “Teachers’ Travel Tips” offers a comedic look at the chaperones played by Martin Starr and JB Smoove trying to ensure a smooth trip.

For behind-the-scenes footage, the disc offers nine featurettes that run about 40 minutes in total. These cover everything from the new suits, new locations and new cast members seen in the film, to the extensive stunts, a look at MCU guest stars, and how director Jon Watts put his spin on the material.

Another section of the extras offers eight minutes of comparisons between pre-vis storyboards and the final version of select scenes.

Finally, there’s a 12-minute video called “The Brother’s Trust,” an inspiring look at the charity work of Holland and his brothers.

 

‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Actors Reveled in Chaperone Hijinks

They may play poor chaperones who tend to lose students — notably Spidey alter ego Peter Parker — but the antics of J.B. Smoove (Mr. Dell) and Martin Starr (returning as Mr. Harrington) provide plenty of comic relief in Spider Man: Far From Home.

The latest Spidey superhero flick is available now on digital and on 4K Ultra HD combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack and DVD Oct. 1 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In playing the teacher/chaperones on a European trip with Parker and his friends, Smoove and Starr were encouraged to improvise and try alternate jokes.

“The writers were there as we were shooting it, so that there were a lot of things changing on the fly,” said Starr. “[Director] Jon Watts had a lot of ideas that he gave us to just play with, so we were given a fair amount of freedom to play.”

Smoove found comedy in playing it straight.

“Even when we had our arguments about everything that was going on — that he was messing up, losing tickets and didn’t have the hotel reservations right — I played it like I was mad as hell at this guy for not going his job,” Smoove noted.

One comic scene featuring the duo that ultimately didn’t make it into the film is included on the extras under “Teachers’ Travel Tips.”

“Jon Watts had an idea that, as we had gone on, Mr. Dell keeps thinking that I’m cursed, and it became like a running joke that we would throw into different scenes that Mr. Harrington is just cursed, so every hotel that he sets up, every city that they visit, every opportunity that they have for like going to the opera, everything becomes really just about me being cursed,” Starr said.

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The duo played it as if the attack of the Elementals is part of that affliction.

“There’s a moment where [the curse] comes to a climax, where the Elementals are fighting in the river and I take responsibility, and I’m like, ‘Kids, go save yourselves. I’m the one they want,’” Starr said. “And then Mr. Dell leaves, too. And then I’m like screaming at the Elementals, ‘Take me! Take me!’ And I think it was the last thing to get cut.

“It was so close to being in the movie.”

As comic book fans themselves, both were thrilled to play supporting characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“It was very cool,” Starr said. “Spider-Man was the only comic book that I had a subscription to. I’ve read a number of different comic books. X-Men and Spider-Man were the two that I read the most, but Spider-Man I had a subscription to, so it actually came to my house. This was very cool to become a part of this particular story.”

Smoove, too, relished comic books growing up.

“I would hop on the train in Mount Vernon and go to the Bronx,” he recalled. “They had this huge comic book store there. We would spend three or four hours there. Between buying stuff, and reading stuff until the guy told us to stop reading stuff and buy it, we would be there all day.”

He added, “I still have comic books somewhere in boxes in plastic. I might be sitting on a good hundred thousand dollars. If things go bad…”

Starr and Smoove Sept. 17 continued their chaperone duties by taking journalists and others on a “field trip” in Los Angeles to uncover some of the visual magic behind Spider-Man: Far From Home. The group visited The Third Floor Visualization, which created the pre-vis graphics for the film; Ironhead Studio, which designed costumes; and ended at The Magic Castle, where illusionist Jason Latimer used science to create illusions.