Mr. Movie

Mr. Movie: ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ is the most fun you’ve had in a theater this year

Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer

Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.
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Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.

‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’

There is so much I want to tell you about “Spider-Man: Far From Home” but can’t. Too many spoilers. Or as I often say, I’ll let the Internet do that for you.

I have made it no secret that I’m a huge fan of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and of the producers of the new Spider-Man series. Starting with “Captain America: Civil War” and the wonderful work of Holland and Paul Rudd’s Ant Man, and moving into the last two Avengers flicks, and the now two reboot Spider-Man movies, they’ve absolutely — and finally — nailed the character.

The original comics cast him as a nice but socially clumsy nerd. When battling bad guys, Spider-Man also excelled at talking trash. Holland is THAT Spider-Man. Neither Toby Maguire nor Andrew Garfield were given that chance and I’m not sure either had the comic skills to pull it off anyway.

Holland does.

Here’s what I can tell you about the movie. Peter Parker wants to go on a tour of Europe with his high school classmates. Happy Hogan pops back into his life and says Nick Fury has other plans for him. They are plans Parker ignores. The kid has a crush on MJ and thinks she might feel the same way.

Pheromones top Fury.

While in Venice, Italy, a super villain emerges from the water and a new hero who ends up being called Mysterio fights the beast and he and Spider-Man become close friends. The why of the attacks and a special gift from Iron Man are at the heart of the movie.

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This image released by Sony Pictures shows Zendaya, left, and Tom Holland in a scene from "Spider-Man: Far From Home." JoJo Whilden Associated Press

You don’t need to know more.

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” is directed by Jon Watts who did “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and is written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers who wrote that film as well as “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “The Lego Batman Movie.” All three have one major thing going for them and that’s the original Spider-Man’s sense of humor.

They loaded their movie with terrific action sequences and near-perfect special-effects and then packed it with laughs.

A big part of the movie’s fun comes from casting chemistry that is as flawless as the writing and directing. Zendaya’s MJ is hot, smart and more comfortable in her own skin than Parker and the other teens on the trip. At the same time, she is also as awkward as Parker. Ned — Parker’s best pal — is also in love and that adds to the film’s high humor.

The nervous Nelly teacher is a bit over the top, but it’s a minor plot problem as is the reworking of Parker’s elderly Aunt May into a middle-aged beauty.

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This image released by Sony Pictures shows Jake Gyllenhaal, left, and Tom Holland in a scene from "Spider-Man: Far From Home." Jay Maidment Associated Press

Jake Gyllenhaal plays the other-worldly Mysterio and is a wonderful addition to the Marvel Universe’s stable of characters. I can’t tell you much more about him without blowing the plot surprises, but he’s terrific and has great chemistry with Holland.

That leads us to the super hero department where Parker’s avoidance of Fury is flat-out funny.

As you know by my plot synopsis, “Spider-Man: Far from Home” is not only a super hero story but it’s also a teen angst flick. I hate teen angst. Only a teenager can care about hormonal heavy stories where this kid or that pines over a love they can’t possess. Judging by the poor box office results of these films, I doubt all that many of kids care about them either.

And if you’re a regular reader, you also know, I’m not a big fan of super hero movies. Some are pretty good but most are a bust.

For me — at least — it’s good to find a film from either genre that is entertaining from start to finish. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is both. From the opening salvo to the clever close, this is the most fun I’ve had in a theater all year.

I suspect it will still hold that title by year’s end.

▪ Rated PG-13 for mature themes and some violence. It’s playing at the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s, at the AMC Kennewick 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

▪ Rating: 5 out of 5

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This image released by A24 shows Jack Reynor and Florence Pugh, right, in a scene from the horror film "Midsommar." Gabor Kotschy Associated Press

‘Midsommar’

Ari Aster is not a name many of you will recognize. He’s probably never going to be that person. Aster did last year’s horror hit “Hereditary” and has much in common with Michael Haneke whose name is probably equally mysterious to you.

Like Haneke, Aster writes and makes really creepy movies.

And — at least so far — like Haneke (“White Ribbon,” “Amour,” “Funny Games”) Aster also makes very good, and very original films. “Midsommar” sits on a cross somewhere between what Haneke does and, though he’s not often all that good, M. Knight Shyamalan when he manages to do something right.

Aster casts Florence Pugh (“Fighting with My Family”) as Dani. She’s a young woman whose parents and sister commit suicide. Devastated, she clings to her boyfriend Christian. He’s done by Jack Reynor (“Kin”). Christian wants to break up with Dani but doesn’t because of her fragile condition.

His friends — played by Will Poulter, William Jackson Harper and Vilhelm Blomgren — don’t understand his decision but reluctantly go along with it even when she decides to go along with them on a summer trip to Sweden.

Blomgren’s Pelle takes them to an annual festival at his home village. Once they get there, bad things happen. Really bad things.

I’m not going to go too much deeper into the plot because to do so would include spoilers. Let’s just say this is a familiar yet unique horror story and leave it there.

Aster’s film is a study in contrasts. The young Americans are confused, conflicted and dark. Pugh’s Dani is looking for light in the darkness that has become her life. Christian and his friends have no light in them at all and are just looking to get high and party.

Pelle’s villagers are all dressed in white with beautiful smiles and they are constantly dancing. That seems to be the perfect party for Christian and his friends. Of course, both groups are terribly flawed. The Americans basically have no hope and the hopes of the villagers are based in a deadly acceptance that death is a good thing that benefits them all.

It is pretty easy to guess who is included in the death is an aid to all scenario.

Pugh, Reynor and their co-stars benefit from a script that makes them act. Lines in Aster’s script are minimal. They’re forced to use facial expressions and their bodies to show what their characters are thinking. They get the job done and do it close to perfection.

Give credit for that to Aster whose writing is troubling in a good way. This is a very difficult movie to watch. Like “Hereditary,” it starts with lots of light but there are contrasts that go with the light. The film is bright and sunny from the time they hit Sweden until the disturbing climax.

Yet, it’s also very dark and very, very uncomfortable.

Aster keeps you on pins and needles from the beginning. You know that something bad is going to happen in every scene. Of course it doesn’t but you know it’s possible and even more likely than not. That leads to another contrast. Plenty happens but in unexpected yet expected ways.

I grew up loving horror movies. These days most horror is crap like the Annabelle movie and the Chucky movie that are in theaters now. Once in awhile though, someone comes up with a gem.

Aster’s movie is just that.

▪ Rated R for violence, language, nudity and drug use. It’s playing at the AMC Kennewick 12.

▪ Rating: 4 out of 5

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