Marvel Studios and Sony team up (for the last time?) for Spider-Man: Far From Home, closing out Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Production: 4/5
Now that the Avengers have more or less fixed everything after Thanos’ snap, people are trying to put their lives back in order. Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) runs a non-profit that raises funds to help those, like herself, that were displaced by the snap after returning from oblivion five years later. Her spokesperson, of course, is Spider-Man, her nephew Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) alter ego. Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), the head of security at Stark Enterprises, has eyes for Aunt May (and vice versa). But just as everything in the world seems to be back to normal, a cyclone with a face attacks a small town in Mexico. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) arrive on the scene, only to see the cyclone defeated by Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), who later warns them that three more elementals are going to attack very soon in Europe. Fury attempts to contact Peter Parker, only to be ghosted by the teenage superhero as Peter gets ready for a class trip to Europe. Peter’s plans in Europe are to purchase a locket and present it to MJ (Zendaya), professing his feelings for her. But Fury has other plans, hijacking the class trip in order top get Peter to cooperate and help Mysterio defeat the remaining elementals. This takes the class from Venice to Prague, where they soon learn that Mysterio may not be who he says he is, leading to a big showdown in London.
Spider-Man: Far From Home almost mirrors my European vacation 15 years ago, having visited many of the same tourist locations in London (London Bridge, Tower of London, Thames River) and Prague (Charles Bridge), only my wife and I went to Paris instead of Venice (although Peter and his class were supposed to go to Paris instead of Prague). The movie captures those locations quite beautifully, while still telling a story that is a fun way to put your mind and worries on hold for just over two hours. This is a much lighter and more down to earth story than the dark heaviness of the last two Avengers movies, but it also lacks a strong, menacing villain. Most people can relate to the awkwardness of the relationship between Peter Parker and MJ, and that is played out rather well. Peter’s friendship with best bud Ned (Jacob Batalon) is also one of the highlights in terms of character relationships. Jackson and Smulders make a great pair, at least platonically, trying to save the world (again) with very limited resources. The relationship between Hogan and May does not get as much screen time as advertised, but it is a fun diversion. Seeing Spider-Man: Far Form Home after all the press coverage of the split between Marvel Studios and Sony makes the film feel like it could be a complete waste, setting up plot points for future films that may now never actually pan out.
3D Rating: NA
Spider-Man: Far From Home was captured at 8K, 3.4K, and 2.8K resolutions using Arri Alexa Mini and Red Ranger 8K VV cameras, then completed as a 2k digital intermediate with Dolby Vision high dynamic range for its premium theatrical engagements. Sony’s UHD Blu-ray release utilizes an upscaled 2160p transfer with both HDR10 and Dolby Vision high dynamic range, retaining the film’s non-IMAX theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 throughout. The disc was reviewed on equipment capable of HDR10 only. This is a noticeable upgrade over the included Blu-ray edition. Colors are much more refined, with a larger range of color gradients with Spider-Man’s suit appearing more red on the UHD than almost magenta on the Blu-ray, with many colors appearing overly saturated on the Blu-ray as well. Contrast is much more controlled as well, in particular the battle in Old Town Square in Prague during the nighttime carnival. The Blu-ray appears to have been artificially lightened to bring out the highlights while the UHD appears more naturally dark with shadow highlights and details. Detail is also improved, with more refined grains of sand during the opening sequence and facial features and imperfections on Samuel L. Jackson and Tom Holland, for example.
Sony has provided a disappointing Dolby Atmos track to the UHD disc of Spider-Man: Far From Home, so much so that the DTS-HD MA 7.1 track on the Blu-ray blows it out of the water. The Atmos track is flat even when pumping the volume past your normal levels. The Blu-ray’s 7.1 track is much more lively and robust, a much wider dynamic range than what is on the Atmos track. Action scenes a much more lively, with intense LFE and surround use, while the Atmos track just kind of sits there. There are some discrete effects to be sure, like the hammering at the motel in Venice, but like I said, the action sequences just don’t come to life like they do on the Blu-ray. On a positive note, dialogue is clear and understandable throughout. Quite the missed opportunity, and one time I wish the studio had included the DTS-HD MA 7.1 track on the UHD along with the Dolby Atmos.
Special Features: 3/5
All of the special features can be found on the included Blu-ray edition.
Peter’s To-Do List – A Short Film (1080p; 3:22): Peter prepares for his trip to Europe.
Gag Reel & Outtakes (1080p; 3:35)
Deleted & Alternate Scenes (1080p; 6:07): Five scenes are included – Betty Blips, Bus Rest Stop with Class, Beck’s Green Juice, Peter & MJ on Plane and May Sees Glasses and A Film by Flash Thompson’s Phone.
Teachers’ Travel Tips (1080p; 4:58): The teachers fumble their way through customs.
The Jump Off (1080p; 6:19): Tom Holland’s stunt work.
Stepping Up (1080p; 3:42): Rather ironically, director Jon Watts opens this featurette by saying “This movie is going to show you what Peter’s place is gonna be in this universe moving forward.”
Suit Up (1080p; 4:38): A look at the different Spider-Man suits used in the film.
Now You See Me (1080p; 6:30): A look at the character of Mysterio.
Far, Far, Far From Home (1080p; 5:14): Shooting on-location in Europe.
It Takes Two (1080p; 3:09): The collaboration between director Jon Watts and actor Tom Holland.
Fury & Hill (1080p; 3:29): A quick look at these two characters.
The Ginter-Riva Effect (1080p; 1:32): A look at a rather minor character from the early days of the MCU that plays an important role in this film.
Thank You, Mrs. Parker (1080p; 3:35): A look at a much younger Aunt May, portrayed by Marisa Tomei.
Stealthy Easter Eggs (1080p; 4:23): A look at some of the many trivial easter eggs in the film.
The Brothers Trust (1080p; 11:44): A look at Tom Holland’s Brothers Trust charity and what it does.
Select Scene Pre-Vis (1080p; 8:20): Five Pre-Vis sequences are included – Hydro-Man Part 1, Hydro Man Part 2, Molten Man, Final Battle and Spder-Man Through NYC.
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy (in UHD where available) from Movies Anywhere.
A disappointing Dolby Atmos track hampers an otherwise excellent UHD Blu-ray release of Spider-Man: Far From Home.