Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019) Movie Review - Cebu X-Geeks


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019) Movie Review

Directed by Jon Watts
Produced by Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal
Screenplay by Chris McKenna, Eric Sommers
Starring Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, J. B. Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, Jake Gyllenhaal

One debate I’ve been engaging myself in lately in these especially precarious times is the question of how huge a role politics should play in works of art, whether they come from individual artists or from corporations in the creative industry. Anyone who’s followed me on Twitter knows where I stand on this issue (uh, it should play a fucking huge role), which is why I’m especially critical of creatives when they persist in silence or apoliticism in the face of several increasingly troubling developments like, say, rising tyranny or worsening climate change.

Marvel Studios, well in existence for some eleven years now, is one filmmaking behemoth that’s had a (few-and-far-between) history of tackling contemporary, testy topics. The first Iron Man movie, released back in 2008, was set in Iraq (not in East Asia, as in the comics) and Los Angeles (not New York, the staple setting of Marvel stories) to square with an era when discourse on the War on Terror and the worship of Silicon Valley supergods dominated the media landscape. (Although the solution proposed by Tony Stark—to send weaponized suits instead of soldiers to decimate targets in far-away warzones—bears a scary resemblance to the controversial drone tactics employed by the Obama administration, which would take over later that year, so I’m pretty certain this movie would have come out a lot differently if released today). Captain America: Civil War, arguably the MCU’s most overtly political film up to that point, dealt with questions of how much government regulation is too much—which was especially relevant in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential elections, when free-market-loving corporatist Donald Trump was often juxtaposed with socialist (but eventually sidelined) Bernie Sanders.

Then in swings Spider-Man: Far from Home, and we see Marvel taking this similar, albeit not often taken, social-commentary route once again. The question it brings to the table: In the era of deep fakes and post-truth (or multiple truths), who exactly do we believe? The fact that it’s probably the first superhero movie in recent memory to take on this issue head-on is laudable enough on its own. But then again, Spider-Man is no stranger to skewed depictions in media, so to have this real-world parallel finally make it into the MCU through this character’s standalone film is, I think, more than appropriate.

As early as the movie’s marketing and all the way through to the post-credits, this recurring theme of deception and the subversion of truth plays out. While the trailers had us believe certain things (like this was a mere globe-trotting adventure film), the narrative plays out entirely different, in a manner I can’t get into without spoiling certain crucial plot points. I do have some thoughts, though, on the answer the film provides, which is a mere rehash of what other mainstream mass culture products (Chernobyl comes to mind) have already said: there is only one objective truth, and anything else that counters that is a false narrative. Coming from a postcolonial milieu, I find this assertion dubious to say the least, but perhaps I’ll save this argument for another essay.

There are, as always, the characteristic Marvel zingers and bright colors, which are always welcome. Peter’s classmates play a more significant role this time around, providing some interesting post-“blip” (a.k.a. the Thanos snap) tension that resurrected long-buried emotions from my own socially awkward high school/early college years. Overall, I’d say this is a step-up from Homecoming, and I seriously hope Marvel continues to hold on to these characters for the foreseeable future.

Score: 9/10

About the Reviewer

Charles SanCheese is an avid reader, student of literature, and pop-culture vulture. He works as a copy editor in Mandaue City and has lived in Cebu his whole life. 

He has authored several essays, short stories, and lengthier works of fiction, all of which can be found in the grand annals of his personal hard drive. Follow him on Twitter at @charlesancheese.

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