Tom Augustine wraps up the weekend in film:
Earlier this year, the psychedelic, intricate, animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse not only proved there was still life in one of the most iconic and well-worn of Marvel's superheroes but set the bar dizzyingly high for other efforts involving New York's favourite web-slinger. While Spidey's latest solo adventure, Spiderman: Far From Home (dir. Jon Watts, rated M), doesn't come close to matching the majesty of 2019's earlier Spider-Man film, it features a charming Tom Holland as it fills in the blanks following the climactic, immense Avengers: Endgame.
This time around, Peter Parker and his classmates find themselves coming to terms with a post-Thanos, post-Captain America, post-Iron Man world, embarking on a high school trip where Peter hopes to get some much needed R'n'R. Unfortunately, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has other ideas, drawing Peter into a dangerous battle between giant, inter-dimensional beings and the mysterious Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). From its outset, Far From Home is intent on pulling the rug out from under its viewers, from a truly brilliant opening gag involving a high school In Memoriam video to a twist-laden second half that sees Spidey plunged into a world where seemingly no one and nothing is what they seem. This second half is a whirl of mindbending imagery, genuinely thrilling web-slinging antics and some appreciable romance between Peter and his crush MJ (Zendaya, continuing to do her own thing here in the most wonderful way). Your mileage will likely vary on the slower, more predictable first half, depending on how well you jibe with Peter and his vast array of schoolmates, teachers and guides (including Jon Favreau as Peter's go-between with Stark Industries and the continually wasted Marisa Tomei as Aunt May). At this point, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has got their formula down to a fine science and while Far From Home takes few risks (until a frankly brilliant post-credits reveal), this makes for a fittingly fun and good natured capper following Endgame's apocalyptic shenanigans.
Rating: Four stars.
With the Film Festival approaching, you can feel the anticipation building in Auckland's cinephile community - but there's plenty worth your time in the coming weeks before "Kiwi movie-goers' Christmas". Saturday at Academy Cinema is a Bong Joon Ho double bill, where you can catch his earlier classic Mother (rated R16) alongside his latest Parasite (rated R16), the best film of the year so far. Meanwhile, one that has been largely overlooked by audiences (and critics) so far but well worth your time is, surprisingly, Child's Play (dir. Lars Klevberg, rated R16), the remake of the earlier horror-comedy series about a killer doll. In a year full of dull, uninspired rehashes of prior franchises, this remake seems genuinely aware of the inherent trashiness of its premise and has a lot of fun with it. You could do a lot worse on a Saturday night at the movies.
Rating: Four stars.