Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) Review

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Directed by Jon Watts

Based on Spider-Man by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Starring: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, J. B. Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, Jake Gyllenhaal

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Parker is recruited by Nick Fury and Mysterio to face elemental threats from another dimension while he is on a school trip to Europe.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this short as I hate writing superhero movie reviews since, let’s face it, they’re all the same. I’ve really enjoyed all of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but none are ever going to be all-time favorites of mine (well, maybe the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies). The characters are fantastic, though; Better than the movies themselves. This is especially the case with these two Spider-Man movies. Tom Holland is adorable and probably the best live-action Spider-Man we’ve had so I have no complaints when it comes to him or any of the other characters. As always, the characters are strong and the humor is a lot of fun. But I found the stories in both movies a bit average.

For me, I think it didn’t help that this follows Infinity War & Endgame. After that “epic” storyline and seeing all the Avengers working together, it was odd going back to another solo superhero film. Then, of course, we get the usual problem of “Where the hell are all the other superheroes while just one of them is trying to save the world from another threat??” I also just couldn’t get into Jake Gyllenhaal’s character and found this story less believable than in other MCU films (not that any superhero stories are exactly realistic but you know what I mean). I didn’t buy into the story in this one.


Oh well. As I said, the characters are strong and Marvel continues to develop these characters far better than the DC films have managed to do. The Marvel characters really do grow with each new film and it was good to see this again with Holland’s Spider-Man. I also love how Marvel focuses on developing the relationships between the characters: Peter Parker with MJ (they’re so cute together & have great chemistry), with Happy Hogan (this was great – taking Tony’s place as father-figure?), with his best friend, and with Aunt May (how hot is Marisa Tomei?!). As I always say, it’s the characters that are more important to me than the story itself. That’s why I always enjoy the Marvel movies despite the storylines failing to ever fully capture my attention. Far From Home was fun but far from my favorite MCU film (I’ve added it to my full ranked list HERE).

My Rating: 7/10

**I have to add this: I’ve now seen the all-time best Spider-Man movie with Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse so it’s going to be harder to fully appreciate the live-action versions. I don’t think Spider-Verse can be topped.

The First Purge (2018) Review

The First Purge (2018)

Directed by Gerard McMurray

Starring: Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Mugga, Lauren Velez, Marisa Tomei

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The fourth installment in The Purge franchise, the film is a prequel depicting the origins of the first annual “Purge”, a 12-hour span once a year in which all crime in America is legal.

My Opinion:

I guess I better do a quick review of The First Purge. I watched this on the 5th of July but I’ve not even done my Monthly Roundup post of all the stuff I watched in June yet (I may not manage that until next week). As always, I watched a lot of movies last month but most of them sucked. July is off to a better start with The First Purge being the first film I watched. I liked it just fine but I’m actually a fan of this entire series so far, despite them all having IMDb ratings that are lower than they each deserve. However, I think this movie is unfortunately the weakest of the series so far.


I did go into this with low expectations as I’ve wanted each film to actually more thoroughly explore the moral complexities involved in this dystopian future but they never really do. I still think these films have one of the best and most original concepts in recent years with the whole “annual purge” thing but the movies have all failed to delve very deep. After Election Year, however, I went back & slightly upped my ratings for each of the films as I do think this has been a solid series despite the execution of the concept being less than perfect. My reviews are here: The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy & The Purge: Election Year. My main worry was that The First Purge might damage a decent trilogy but I think it fits into the series just fine. Again, it feels like yet another wasted opportunity to be something slightly more than a “popcorn movie” but at least it stays true to the Purge formula that has worked for the other films and has given these a cult fan base.


What makes this film the weakest? I’m not entirely sure. It feels a lot like Election Year, which I did really enjoy, but I think the main problem is that they’ve given us the least believable characters yet in The First Purge. I think the Purge characters have become less & less believable with each film. These last two have had some characters (mainly baddies) who have felt like caricatures – a mean druggie named Skeletor in this one and that horrible bitch in the last one who I think ended up getting run over (yay!). The “goodies” are a little too good in these, as well. Which is fine – I want to like the characters in movies and I like that I’m wanting these people to survive the annual purge. But it didn’t work as well this time with the “good girl” with all the right values and the “naughty boy” drug dealer turned hero. It still stayed on the right side of the line, though. I liked the goodies & hated the baddies. But they’re all getting a little too silly to take very seriously…

Well, The First Purge is fine. It’s the weakest of the four but, if you liked the rest, you should like this too. Just know that it doesn’t add much to the series but it doesn’t harm it either. I feel bad that this review sounds negative… I also have to give it a lower rating than the other three but I liked it more than my rating suggests. I still just hope they might make another one of these that finally manages to do something more meaningful with the central idea.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Directed by Jon Watts

Based on Spider-Man by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr., Laura Harrier, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Martin Starr

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man when a new threat emerges.

My Opinion:

I saw this a few weeks ago but never reviewed it and now it’s annoying me because I at least try to review the current releases I actually go out to see, so…. I’ll keep this short! I don’t have a lot to say.

I liked this but, as I often say about these sort of movies, I’m getting very superheroed-out. There are some that I truly do enjoy (like Wonder Woman & especially the Guardians Of The Galaxy films) but I’d probably never bother to re-watch half the superhero movies I’ve seen. I think Spider-Man: Homecoming is one of the ones I’m unlikely to watch again. Sorry… It’s not bad! It just feels like, you know, more of the same old thing despite trying to be a little bit different with certain things (like with saucy Aunt May).

The storyline is a pretty standard Marvel storyline so I couldn’t get too excited about that but I did like the John Hughes-esque teen movie thing going on, which worked well instead of feeling forced. Tom Holland & his friends felt like actual teenagers, as they’re meant to be. Which leads me to the very best thing about this movie: Tom Holland is great. He’s easily my favorite Spider-Man between him, Andrew Garfield & Tobey Maguire. I think they finally got the character right (not that I can have a fully informed opinion since it’s not like I read the comics or anything). But, seriously – he’s the most believable as a teenager (he’s 21!) and easily the most likeable.

I also really enjoyed Michael Keaton & Marisa Tomei in this. I like the career revival Michael Keaton has had these past few years (he’s still my favorite Batman, okay??) and I’ve liked Tomei ever since Untamed Heart (that movie rules & I love it). I like saucy Aunt May! I looked up Tomei’s age as well as Holland’s. She’s 52! That’s awesome. I like that Hollywood is actually seeming to be a little less scared lately of using actors & actresses who dare to be over 40. Anyway – Holland, Keaton & Tomei are perfect in these roles and are what make this movie so enjoyable since the story itself is a bit “whatever”.


I can see why people do like this movie and I’m sorry that I think I sound more negative than I actually feel. If I was a teen/early twentysomething, I think I’d probably love it & would see it as “my” Spider-Man (like those who grew up with the Tobey Maguire ones are so fond of those). I think this latest incarnation of Spider-Man is easily the most promising of the last three & the younger generation are lucky to have Holland as “their” Spider-Man. I assume we’ll be getting to see more of Zendaya in a sequel (I was surprised her role was so small in this), which would be good as I want to see more of Peter Parker’s awkward teenage high school life & all of his relationships (even more than his Spider-Man life). But, as for his Spider-Man life, I think he’s the perfect fit to work alongside the other Marvel superheroes. That’s one of the best things about the Marvel films – I think all the actors are pretty much perfect in their superhero roles and also have great chemistry when they’re all brought together. I’m happy to know that this is the Spider-Man we get to see working with them. I think the previous two would have felt out of place with them so Holland clearly has a certain star power to work so well alongside such established actors & actresses.

My Rating: 7/10

Sleeping With Strangers (1994) & Factotum (2005) Reviews

Tomorrow would’ve been Adrienne Shelly’s 50th birthday so I’m going to be posting reviews of some of her movies. Yesterday I began with her Hal Hartley films The Unbelievable Truth & Trust (reviews HERE) and tomorrow I’ll review her own film Waitress, which she wrote & directed and in which she also starred.

I explained yesterday why I’m reviewing Shelly’s films so I’m going to copy that explanation again here. I’ll just add that her independent films are very hard to get a hold of so today’s movies are unfortunately not very good & I’m sure she’s been in better ones. However, Sleeping With Strangers was a bit of fun and worth the watch as she has a big role & I’m definitely now a fan but she disappointingly only has an extremely small role in Factotum. Here’s what I said yesterday:

First of all, I’ll say a little bit about why I’ve chosen to devote a few days to Adrienne Shelly’s films. I became interested in checking out more of her work after watching the fantastic film Waitress, which she wrote & directed and in which she also starred. I watched Waitress while pregnant just like its main character (played by Keri Russell) and the movie just “spoke” to me in that special sort of way that I know only fellow diehard film lovers might understand. I’d seen her in nothing before & sadly didn’t even know her name until news of her murder just before the film’s release.

Anyway – I won’t go into Waitress now as I’ll be reviewing that on Friday but I so loved the movie & its mix of quirky characters (including Shelly’s role) that I wanted to see the films she’d starred in previously. Wow – they’re hard to get hold of! The one I’m most interested in (Sudden Manhattan, which she also wrote & directed) isn’t available. Of what I could get, I have to say that I liked Waitress far more than the films she only starred in. It’s sad to think of the other fantastic movies she could have made had she not been so cruelly taken from her family, her friends, and the filmmaking world.

Sleeping With Strangers (1994)

Directed by William T Bolson

Written by Joan Carr-Wiggin

Starring: Adrienne Shelly, Alastair Duncan, Kim Huffman, Shawn Thompson, Scott McNeil

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A popular actress (Shelly) and a rock star (McNeil) come to a small Canadian town with two competing hotels next door to each other. The rock star is escorted into one of the hotels and the actress checks into the other. Daniel (Duncan), the owner of one of the two hotels, is trying to stay afloat. The other hotel owner, Mark (Thompson), is trying to steal away Daniel’s business and his fiancee (Huffman). The paparazzi arrives in town and makes everybody wonder, who is sleeping with whom?


*This is the only photo from this movie that I can find online

My Opinion:

I have to begin by saying: Who the HELL are those people on the movie poster??? You know you’re watching some low budget movie with no big names when they just stick some random people on the poster. That picture has nothing whatsoever to do with the movie – I’m assuming it was an “assignment” where they were given nothing more than the movie’s title & told to take a photo. Stupid. It’s not even the right number of people – the movie’s main characters are two women & three men. Even my DVD has a stupid cover – it’s a picture of two pairs of feet sticking out of a blanket. I prefer that, though, because at least you can almost pretend the feet belong to people who are ACTUALLY IN THE MOVIE.


*Why does Adrienne Shelly’s name have an extra E in some movie posters? I’m wondering if that’s an error or if she started out spelling it that way. Hmm… Yes, these are the little things that bother me in life.

Rant over! Okay – I just spent a paragraph bitching about the poster as I don’t have much to say about the actual movie. I guess it’s a romantic comedy, which is rarely my favorite type of film in the first place, but it’s not exactly the worst I’ve ever seen in this genre. I mean, at least Kate Hudson isn’t in it (or, you know – the 1994 annoying equivalent of Kate Hudson).


*As I said, this must officially be the most obscure movie I’ve reviewed as there are no photos from it online besides the one I used at the very start. So here’s the lovely Shelly on a DVD cover for The Unbelievable Truth…

I only watched this movie for Adrienne Shelly anyway & I’m glad I did as she has a very big role as a famous actress staying at an inn in a small village. Okay, maybe it’s because I’d say I’m a fan now but she’s the best thing about the movie. Her character isn’t really meant to be “liked” but you do warm to her & want nothing more than for her to hook up with the Scottish inn-owner (Alastair Duncan, who is clearly meant to be your favorite character & the one whose inn you want to stay in business). These two are good together & have a nice chemistry while the rest of the characters felt like a waste of time.


*There’s Alastair Duncan, apparently in a few episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Well, Kim Huffman was also good as Duncan’s cheating fiancé – she strikes me as a good actress who just hasn’t gone on to be in anything big. The other two male characters, though, were pointless. The other inn-owner had zero development (he was only there to add drama by being the competition & sleeping with the fiancée) and the rock star boyfriend of Shelly’s sctress was an embarrassment. He was all “Duuuude” and “Whoaaaa” – just a stereotypically sexist hard rocker with big hair. I mean, I love those dumb dudes sometimes (I adore Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure!) but it was just a bit too silly & the dumb comedy involving this character distracted from an otherwise simple story of some small town folks. There were some lesser characters, such as an old lady who lived at the inn & thought she was Queen, who could have been quite endearing if they’d been focused on a bit more. I often like quirky, small town dramedies (I’m thinking of things like Local Hero). If this movie had leaned more toward drama or actually had some good comedy, it would’ve been a much better film. Oh well. It wasn’t the worst movie ever & I’m glad Shelly had such a large role.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Factotum (2005)

Directed by Bent Hamer

Based on Factotum (1975) by Charles Bukowski

Starring: Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor, Marisa Tomei, Adrienne Shelly, Fisher Stevens

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
This drama centers on Hank Chinaski, the fictional alter-ego of “Factotum” author Charles Bukowski, who wanders around Los Angeles, CA trying to live off jobs which don’t interfere with his primary interest, which is writing. Along the way, he fends off the distractions offered by women, drinking and gambling.

My Opinion:

This movie, unfortunately, was a huge waste of my time. Luckily, it was super cheap! Which is why I bought it since it had Shelly listed as an actress in it. Damn – I didn’t realize what an extremely small role it would be. But I also love Lili Taylor (Say Anything! Mystic Pizza!) so I figured “what the hell – it’s cheap & has two actresses I like”. Ugh. I can’t say I got any sort of enjoyment whatsoever out of this movie, which is quite rare. Even ones I absolutely HATE usually have a little something about them that I can appreciate. This was worse than those I hate – it was just a “So what?”.

This movie is based on the book Factotum by author Charles Bukowski & Matt Dillon plays Bukowski’s “fictional alter-ego”. I’ll readily admit that I’d never even heard of Bukowski before watching this movie then reading about it online. I’d say that this film was probably made solely for fans of his writing so, if you’re a fan, you might as well give this a go. If you aren’t, I honestly can’t recommend it. I found it utterly pointless & completely boring considering its main character is supposedly a somewhat controversial figure who doesn’t conform to social norms. Perhaps it would’ve been better in its original setting of the 1940s as in the book since his behavior doesn’t feel shocking in the movie’s 2005. It feels like there IS a story here but, for whatever reason, the movie fails to make it watchable. I’m assuming the book is more interesting as the author appears to have plenty of fans.

Everyone does a decent enough job with the material, however. The movie stars some big names and Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor & Marisa Tomei all give it their usual best. Dillon basically mopes around, writes a bit, jumps from job to job, and has loads of sex with Taylor. For a while, he has sex with Tomei instead. Tomei & a couple other women apparently hang out with a rich old dude just to have a place to stay & sometimes get rides on his yacht (and on him, you assume). Adrienne Shelly plays one of those women. I’m not sure if she even had a line…

I’m not against this sort of film, where you have an unsympathetic central character that most people won’t be able to relate to in any way. But there have been plenty of similar films which didn’t feel like such a huge waste. I don’t expect some Disney ending where everyone learns the error of their ways but I do expect to get a little something out of a film, whether it’s some sort of emotion or if it’s just plain entertainment. I’m thinking of things like Leaving Las Vegas or The Wolf Of Wall Street – both are excellent films with central characters who most people won’t be able to relate to but one film manages to be very emotionally draining while the other is sure as shit entertaining. I’m now curious to see the film Filth to compare – that one certainly looks more interesting than Factotum. I hate to end on a downer but, hey, it’s not like this is an Adrienne Shelly film & I’ll be finishing on a far more positive note when I review Waitress tomorrow. 🙂

My Rating: 4/10