Movie review: Spider-Man hits a home run
It is a bold move to poke fun at your home team's recent triumph.
Considering the dark cloud Avengers: Endgame could have cast over this film, Far From Home cuts through the gloom with a shimmering multi-coloured laser beam of action, heart and a large amount of laughs.
Not that Endgame is forgotten, it is just not treated as reverently as one might expect.
Far From Home might reference the after-effects of Thanos - both the snap and his defeat - but that does not mean it is not out to have fun.
After swiftly introducing Jake Gyllenhaal's Mysterio, it sends you off balance with I Will Always Love You belted out over the Marvel logo. And then it is straight into the laughs, and unfortunately for this review, the spoilers.
There is a lot going on - including some very deep cut references - and most of it needs to be seen unspoilt.
What we can say is that Tony Stark looms large, literally and figuratively. A number of huge murals remind Peter Parker of his lost mentor to the extent that even in his absence, Stark may as well be on the cast list. That said, there is not much introspection. Director Jon Watts creates some amazing action moments, far better than the finale of 2017's Homecoming. Think Spidey's frenetic fights in Civil War with the mind-bending moments of Doctor Strange.
But what sets Marvel films apart is the quiet times.
Tom Holland is not just a great (arguably the best) Spider-Man, he is also a pretty astounding actor. Let us not forget he managed to devastate audiences with just a few lines in both Infinity War and Endgame.
Here, it is the lighter moments where Holland - and Zendaya as MJ - shine brightest. Their awkward shuffle of adolescent attraction and denial are moments of pure charm.
It also helps that the other trip romance - involving Jacob Batalon's Ned - is perfectly toe-curling. It used to be that sending characters on holiday signalled sequel desperation.
Far From Home is a home run. It signs off on one Marvel era, sets up the next and a sequel cannot come soon enough. - 4 Ticks
FILM: Spider-Man: Far From Home
STARRING: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon
DIRECTOR: Jon Watts
THE SKINNY: Facing a new Avengers-level threat but without any ''big'' Avengers to call on, Nick Fury (Jackson) recruits Spider-Man (Holland) to work with newcomer Mysterio (Gyllenhaal). But Peter Parker is more concerned with impressing MJ (Zendaya) on their school Euro trip.
THE EXTRACTORS (NC16)
This third instalment in the Escape Plan trilogy was a straight-to-DVD release in the US, and deservedly so.
It is a dull and ugly movie.
Sylvester Stallone reprises his security expert role as Ray Breslin, though his involvement here is very much reduced compared with that of his co-stars Dave Bautista, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, and Zhang Jin.
The story is a no-brainer revenge film.
Stallone's Breslin and his crew are hired to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a Hong Kong tech mogul.
The mastermind behind the kidnapping is Lester Clark Jr (Devon Sawa), who has a bone to pick with Breslin.
Lester blames his father's death on Breslin because of the events that took place in the first Escape Plan (2013).
But all these do not matter.
The plot is paper thin, characters underwhelming and the action lacklustre and uninspired.
By the end of this movie, audiences will be praying to be extracted. - JOHN TAN - 1.5 Ticks
ANNABELLE COMES HOME (PG13)
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles as demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren in this third instalment of the Annabelle series and the eighth in The Conjuring universe.
Despite Ed and Lorraine's best efforts to lock Annabelle in a priest-blessed glass case, the spooky doll that serves as a channel for evil spirits is unleashed unwittingly by the Warrens' 10-year-old daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace), and her two sitters Mary (Madison Iseman)and Daniela (Katie Sarife).
Annabelle Comes Home ups the tension, but never gives the audience the catharsis they deserve.
Although it relies on jump scares, the horror flick is more visually interesting than the first, Annabelle (2014).
However, it is less intense or visceral than the second, Annabelle: Creation (2017), perhaps due to a lower age restriction rating.
While the scares may not be the strongest, it still provides a likeable cast. - JOHN TAN - 3 Ticks
Red Joan (M18)
A former spy's (Judi Dench) tranquil retirement is suddenly disrupted when she is arrested by MI5 and accused of providing intelligence to Communist Russia.
Rotten Tomatoes: 31%
A symbiotic relationship forms between two South Korean families - one rich and one poor - but this new ecosystem is fragile and soon, greed and class prejudice threaten to upend their comfort.
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
The White Crow (M18)
Inspired by the book Rudolf Nureyev: The Life by Julie Kavanaugh, the drama charts the iconic dancer's (Oleg Ivenko) famed defection from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961 despite KGB efforts to stop him.
Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Toy Story 4 (PG)
When Bonnie takes all her toys along on her family's road trip excursion, Woody (Tom Hanks) ends up on an unexpected detour that includes a reunion with his long-lost friend Bo Peep (Annie Potts).
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Beneath the titular character's (Sasha Luss) striking beauty lies a secret that will unleash her indelible strength and skill to become one of the world's most feared government assassins.
Rotten Tomatoes: 30%
Men In Black: International (PG13)
In this new adventure, the Men in Black (Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson) tackle their biggest, most global threat to date - a mole within the organisation.
Rotten Tomatoes: 22%
This epic musical biopic follows the fantastical journey of transformation of a shy small-town piano prodigy, Reginald Dwight (Taron Egerton), into international music superstar Elton John.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%