Download Spider-Man: Far From Home Abrams: I’m going to ignore your blasphemous Ray Harryhausen comparison and instead focus on the concept of lowered expectations. In my suitably grandiose opinion, only mediocre to lousy movies benefit from lowered expectations. Remember Bumblebee, the recent Transformers movies that many of our peers liked, partly because it was not another Michael Bay movie? I didn’t like that one, either!
If anything, I feel like Far From Home benefits significantly from Marvel Studios’ release strategy: after the imaginative, upbeat and generally superior Into the Spider-Verse, but also after the programmatic, apocalyptic and mostly fine Avengers: Endgame. First, they make us want more Spidey. Then, they ostentatiously close a chapter in one of the most drawn-out, undercooked, middle-managed cinematic super-sagas. Now it’s time for summer vacation with Peter Parker and the gang. Sounds great, but why couldn’t they just give me that movie instead of filling the post-Endgame hole in my heart (shhh) with a villain whose relationship to the last couple of films is hastily explained in an expository monologue that starts off as a joke at its own expense, and ends as a machine to deliver more contrivances.
I always want to love the Spider-Man movies because I love rooting for Peter Parker, Local Under-dog (Queens, what what!) as he tries to do right by his loved ones and also insinuates himself into a bizarre world populated by a lizard-person, a big-game hunter, and fishbowl-guy, too. I like Spider-man as a lightning rod for juvie melodrama…. I don’t care for him as a tentpole for more impersonal Avengers movies.
I also don’t care for a quarter-assed media critique or an insubstantial series of thrice reheated rom-com cliches: they’re like an old married couple! And they can’t decide what they want to be! And she’s smarter than he thinks! OK, but, like, can you do something with those conventions other than rehashing them? Something? Anything? Going through the motions is only so interesting. You’ve got to give me something to go on beyond a promising start and a whole lot of whatever on the side.
I don’t know, I guess I don’t get how you, of all people, were kinda fine with Far From Home. Doesn’t a movie have to succeed on its own terms? How did this do that for you?
Boone: My Ray Harryhausen comparison might just be a cry for help from a broken man. Perhaps 20 years of increasingly “drawn-out, undercooked, middle-managed” summer movies have broken me down. I think many of our critical peers have beaten me to this place. (Anyone who had a kind word for Bumblebee deserves our compassion and the appropriate behavioral health support group.)