Spider-Man: Far From Home Podcast Transcript
Hi, my name’s Melvin and I’m at a loss for words
Welcome to Cinematic Doctrine, a non-spoiler Christian movie podcast where we sit at the table of Cinema and eat. Tonight, we’ll be dining on Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Far From Home.
The closing act of Phase 3, and the immediate film after Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far From Home has quite the shoes to fill. It’s not only the epilogue to a 10-year story but comes as the first foray into something new with the MCU. We’re entering a new era where, for the most part, we have virtually no idea what’s to come next.
There’s little-to-no allusions to a grand narrative up ahead, unlike the implications of an Infinity War that we received early in the MCU with releases like Captain America: The First Avenger or even The Avengers itself. But that won’t keep people from trying to figure things out ahead of time.
But before we get into anything like that, let’s figure things out with Spider-Man: Far From Home first. And I think it goes without saying that, while I won’t be covering spoilers for this film, I will have to talk about it, which means there may be subtle spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. Just a headsup.
After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker needs a vacation. A trip to Europe seems in order, and as he heads off with his friends to tour the EU, he decides to hang up the suit and take a break, a much-needed vacation from the tiresome, seemingly endless work of being a super-hero. Although, as fate would have it, it doesn’t matter where you go, the world is in turmoil here and there, and while on his trip, mythical creatures called Elementals begin surfacing from the Earth, threatening to destroy the world as they consume more and more power.
So, is Peter going to enjoy his vacation and let someone else take charge, or is Nick Fury going to hijack his vacation and demand he do something about it? Why don’t you take a wild guess?
Spider-Man: Far From Home is Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments.
Sci-Fi action is par for the course, and there’s a whole bunch of it in here. Lots of explosions, giant creatures fighting, and web-slinging. Nothing you wouldn’t expect from a Marvel film.
The language is delivered by teenage characters. It’s all PG-13 language but could still be uncomfortable.
There are about 3 memorable sequences of suggestive content, one of which is a joke about a character having to undress in front of another for a non-sexual reason, but another character walking in with the punch-line being “It looked like they were going to do something”. It was… weird. It’s also during a large segment of what would arguably be considered filler so there really wasn’t a reason for it. Still, something to watch out for, and there’s some other things that may warrant a quick read on the IMDB Parents Guide.
Let’s get this out of the way. I didn’t enjoy Avengers: Endgame. Or, well, I wasn’t impressed with it. I wasn’t a fan of the tonal direction it chose after Infinity War, and I felt it left a lot to be desired, but these are all things you can hear about in episode 7 of Cinematic Doctrine, so I won’t get into detail very much about that.
And I recognize that I’m essentially pouring gasoline over myself and giving you the matchbox when I say something like that, but I think that’s important to how you hear me with this episode. It puts things into perspective.
So, with that said, I must say that I had a better time with Far From Home than Endgame. I would even say I was more emotionally engaged with this film than Endgame, but only slightly. Which, for comparison’s sake, I really wasn’t all that moved by Endgame, so take that as you will.
I also would say that I simply enjoyed myself more with Far From Home, from it’s smaller story, tighter cast, and far more subtle call-backs to previous films, save for one scene in the middle. I stepped away feeling I had time better spent, but I do think that Endgame and Far From Home both suffer from running a bit long. This was a little over 2 hours and, as mentioned briefly in the content warning, there’s a part in the film that feels a lot like filler.
Basically, characters are being moved from one place to another and while they’re traveling, some teenage super-hero hijinks take place that, although marginally enjoyable, really pans out the runtime and we’re not even an hour into the film yet by this point.
And it isn’t until a few scenes later that another weird scene is thrown at us that, while necessary, seemed a little too comical. It’s essentially an exposition-dump that lasts for 5-10 minutes and its not only tiresome but awkward, too. You kind of just sit there and go, “Okay…. Okay…….. Alright…..” and have to wait until a particular character is finished monologuing before you can get on with the film.
And that’s a scene that hurts a little more to watch than some nonsensical filler. I think it’s because it’s so obviously talking directly to the audience. Like the writer is making sure that you get it, because otherwise you wouldn’t. It’s unintentionally demeaning, as though the regular movie-goer wouldn’t understand what’s going on. I’m never a fan of that sort of thing, and it’s such a chore to put up with someone who either doesn’t trust that their story can’t tell itself properly or doesn’t trust me to catch on and go for the ride.
And, apart from that, it’s also very jarring, and you can’t help but go for the ride because that’s where the films headed now. There’s no stops on this train. You must finish it out and pray you’re being taken in a direction that’s satisfactory.
And, for the most part, it is. I finished the film having a good time, and while there’s a few shake-up’s, like I said, I had a good time. I enjoy these smaller super-hero stories, and having a teenage focus is a joy. Earlier this year we were treated to David Sandberg’s Shazam! and that was a ton of fun. I had a real fun time with it, and you can hear about that in Episode 4 of Cinematic Doctrine.
That said, there’s something exciting about telling these grand super-hero stories from the perspective of someone who still has so much to learn, and when people like David Sandberg and Jon Watts take that sort of premise seriously, there’s a wealth of good content to be had from it. Not only that, there’s something wonderful to the empathy shown in taking teenage struggles seriously, even if they’re balanced alongside mythical, cataclysmic battles of good VS evil.
And when a teenage story is written well, it captures something that can’t quite be expressed properly in a story centered around adults. But, that’s not to say that they’re not for adults. I think anyone could see that some of the best teenage dramas are accessible to teens and adults alike, just look at Harry Potter for that.
Now, I don’t want to follow this trail much further because:
- While I think Spider-Man: Far From Home does a good job of being a super-hero flick and a fun-loving teenage-drama, it also has to be a Marvel film, so it can get a little convoluted tonally about what kind of story it wants to be. It has to be exciting, but it also has to be funny, but also has to build this world, but it also has to call back to the previous films, but it also has to be dramatic, but it also has to be flashy, but it also has to be ETC ETC. Ultimately, it’s a bit confused, like most of these movies, and while serviceable works for bringing in profit, it doesn’t necessarily make for star-studded cinema. Unless, of course, it’s done well like Captain America: Winter Soldier or Avengers: Infinity War.
- If I keep talking about the wonders of Teenage Dramas and how they can be enjoyed by teens and adults alike, as well as their poignant way of communicating the difficulties of growing up that, if we’re being honest, never goes away, then this will change from a Spider-Man: Far From Home reviewinto an Eighth Grade review, and I’m not ready to commit to that just now.
Let’s talk about something I really liked about this movie: Representation! Not only is it set outside of the United States, it features a cast of all kinds of races, like you would see in a High-School environment, and features music from the countries being visited by the teenage troupe. Although the licensed soundtrack was a little overbearing for the first 30 minutes of the movies, what-with there being like 4 licensed songs, I still liked how the music contributed to the setting, and I definitely remembered those songs more than the usual MCU original soundtrack that usually plays in the background of these movies.
I’m glad that they’ve been improving on their original music, as the last 2 Avengers movies are great examples of this, but one could even look to Black Panther or even, goodness I can’t believe I’m saying this, even Ant-Man and the Wasp has a fun original score that helped to make the film more enjoyable.
[alright, I have to go clean my mouth real quick. Can’t believe I said something good about an Ant-Man movie] (walk away while you’re saying that)
All in all, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a fine epilogue to not only Phase 3 but The Infinity Saga. I mentioned its subtle call-backs to the previous movies in the MCU and, most notably, the 3 Iron Man movies. There are scenes that feel directly inspired by moments from each of those movies, and it helps to bring things full circle after the events of not only Endgame, but as mentioned, the entire MCU thus far. It’s charming and sweet and feels familiar as a fan who’s been watching since Middle School, and new as it changes some things around.
I’m both okay and not okay with this. I’m okay with this because a good story will reference itself. A lot. I’m talking a lot. Writing a story is like crocheting or knitting. It’s a lot of threads all coming together to create a singular thing, and while every part seems different, it’s all made up of the same few threads, properties, colors. A story referencing itself can do this without being overt, as the end of your right sleeve shouldn’t be directly attached to your left sleeve, but also needs to be careful not to have loose ends, or snags that tickle your armpit or neck.
The reason I’m not okay with this is because there’s the risk of rehashing the same things over and over. In fact, this was something I didn’t like about Endgame, as certain things that were rehashed weren’t all that great, or downright uninteresting. It had major “I’ve seen this before” syndrome, sometimes calling back to the film immediately before it, Infinity War.
With two MCU releases right next to each other that evoke previous iterations to such a degree, I worry about what’s ahead. It’s funny that I’m saying it this way, as often you would hear complaints that the MCU films take too much time preparing their next movies. I even joke about this with the title to my Avengers: Endgame review as the culmination of 20-some feature-length commercials. And now I’m overhear complaining that it does the opposite, calling back to previous films.
But let’s think about that for a second. While it’s very clear that the stingers for Far From Home, or, end-credits scenes, are setting the table for the following films, what does it mean that the last few movies have been huge call-backs?
I suppose for Endgame, it’s pretty obvious. Fan-service. Or, cynicism aside, it’s a ‘how far we’ve come’, mentality. It’s a picture of the long-standing narrative that Disney/Marvel has been building. It’s putting into perspective the entirety of this 10+ year story that’s been unfolding for a life time. It’s clever, creative, and as the box office will show, effective.
But to do it again? It may be more subtle in Far From Home, but it’s a little… strange.
Fingers crossed that whatever’s up next is a breath of fresh air. An open door to creativity, and we get to see something undeniably new. As it sounds, Phase 4 is going to head into the bizarre stuff of the Marvel universe, and we’re going to get more sci-fi wacky space stuff. Basically, more Guardians tier fun. That’s more than fine by me, but we’ll have to wait and see.
And with that, thank you so much for checking out this episode of Cinematic Doctrine. If you’ve seen Spider-Man: Far From Home, what did you think of it? Where the end-credits scene just as shocking as you were led to believe? Or, do you feel that this film was a major let-down after the events of Avengers: Endgame? Let me know with an email to CinematicDoctrine@gmail.com, or if you’re listening on CinematicDoctrine.com, leave a comment below!
Also, if you’re on Letterboxd, I have a list compiling every movie reviewed on Cinematic Doctrine with direct links to those episodes, so feel free to check that out!
Also also, I’ll be making a guest appearance on not one, but 2 guest appearances on different podcasts!
One of them is War Machine vs War Horse, a movie podcast where we talked about Under the Silver Lake, The Nice Guys, and The Black Dahlia, and dissected similar themes across each of them, primarily the use (or, misuse) of women in each film. It should be online very soon, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!
The other podcast is The Reformed Gamers, the show all about theology, video games, and anything else! In our segment, we’ll be talking about the first 3 Resident Evil films, which… well, let’s just say that’s going to make for an interesting episode…
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Next time I’ll be reviewing Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In.
Until then, stay cool!
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Melvin Benson is the Founder, Editor-In-Chief, and Lead Host of Cinematic Doctrine. He’s written fiction and nonfiction for over a decade with short stories featured on the Creepypasta Wiki and Wattpad. His novelette Ethereal Temptation, a teen drama with a tinge of magical-realism, can be read for free here. His hope is to see King Jesus glorified as far as the east is from the west!