Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Spider-Man scores for holiday, but aptly-named 'Midsommar' goes off rails

Holland's 'Spider-Man" has big eyes for Zendaya's classmate in new sequel.
How can we create some July Fourth film fireworks? Why, with one more Marvel-backed summer adventure and a rather bizarre, if nightmare-invoking horror film, of course!

The former, "Spider-Man: Far from Home," surely will capture the most eyes during the upcoming four-day weekend with its combination of high school hijinks and heroics from the web-shooting wonder happening all over Europe.

This second "Spider" go-round with good-natured Brit Tom Holland in the dual role of the superhero and alter ego Peter Parker, has him looking forward to a summer vacation. That means a lengthy science trip with all the other class nerds, including best pal Ned (Jacob Batalon) and the brilliant beauty of his dreams, MJ (Zendaya, a legitimate screen superstar in the making).

Surely there has to be more, and there is, with grumpy Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) trying to get our boy involved in high level, save-the-world stuff, and Marvel newcomer Jake Gyllenhaal turning some nifty stunts as the tricky and quirky Quentin Bass/Mysterio.

Also along for the rip-roaring ride are henchman Happy (John Favreau), who has promised boss Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr. in cameo mode) that he would forever keep his eye on the kid, even if he's seriously more happy with Parker's Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).

Obviously, love is in the air, and Peter's ongoing plans for making MJ his main squeeze really do add a sweet and realistic teen touch to the Marvel mayhem that only fans of this gigantic genre can possibly embrace. By the way, since the movie offers a summer school canvas, we'll give extra credit for an extra-special scene in the credits, perhaps the best closer in the universe's cinematic history.

Rated "PG-13": sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments; 2:09; $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

Hallucinations, profound grief, and oozing brains are all you'll get from me about "Midsommar," a cluster-yuck of sun-drenched images from writer and director Ari Aster as his grotesque follow-up to last summer's superior "Hereditary."  

The put-upon Pugh is rarely happy.
Florence Pugh, who was so good in the WWE's "Fighting With My Family" earlier this year, turns in another riveting performance while tagging along with a group of dull anthropologists -- and filmmakers -- who take themselves way too seriously.

Though the movie is unwatchable at times and lost me rather early when a Swedish cult "celebration" that only occurs every 90 years apparently goes off without a single hitch, it likely will keep sleepless types thinking about how disturbing it is hours later.

Regardless, it says here that you won't relate to anyone in the barmy bunch, and even Aster's ironic use of "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore," a '6os classic by the Walker Brothers, falls flat as delivered over the closing credits by Frankie Valli, of all people.

Rated "R": graphic violence, nudity, hallucinogens, profanity; 2:20; $ $ and 1/2 out of $5


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