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Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Spider-Man: Far From Home

“Itsy Bitsy” is also new to Blu-Ray this week.

Let’s start by stating the obvious: “Avengers: Endgame” is no easy act to follow. Anything coming after will be on a smaller scale and pale in comparison to the epic, universe-shaking events of the last Avengers movie. So, who better to bring things back to Earth than Peter Parker (Tom Holland), AKA the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man?

Though, he doesn’t stay in the neighborhood for long in “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” After dealing with both his newfound fame during a guest appearance in his Queens, NY, neighborhood, and learning that his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and his watchful guardian Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) are getting romantic, it’s off to Europe. It’s supposed to be a science tour, but it seems more like a sight-seeing vacation. The chaperones also leave something to be desired. Both Mr. Harrington (Martin Starr) and Mr. Dell (JB Smoove) are weak, inept, and silly. They’re both a far cry from Shan Omar Huey, the man who played the teacher at the beginning of the 2002 Sam Raimi “Spider-Man.” He was a bit strict, but was also watchful and kept the students in line and paying attention. I can’t help but think how much different this movie would be if this teacher took the class to Europe and not the two dolts in this movie.

All Peter wants to do is profess his love to MJ (Zendaya). Why is anyone’s guess. I get that comic lore dictates that Peter has to have a crush on MJ, but it’s like no effort was made by director Jon Watts or Zendaya to make her the least bit appealing. And I’m not referring to her frizzy hair or plain outfits. The fact that Peter can look past all of that and find her beautiful without all of the hair and make up is great, and speaks well of his character. What I don’t get is what he sees when he looks past it all. She’s a charisma vacuum—dry, humorless, blunt to the point of rudeness, and has one of the worst cases of RBF (resting bitch face) that I’ve ever seen. Aunt May and Happy have better banter and chemistry. The only conclusion I can reach, and must go along with, is that Peter likes women like that. I guess someone has to. To each his own.

Of course, this is a MCU movie, not a romantic comedy, so it’s not long before supernatural threats called Elementals show up to lay waste to the Earth. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) needs Peter to step up and stop them. Peter just wants to be a normal teenager, go on his class vacation, and try to make things work with MJ. This is Peter’s big internal conflict, which manifests itself externally each time he has to ditch his class to go save the world with the help of the enigmatic Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), AKA Mysterio.

As to be expected in a MCU movie with Disney money, the production values are top notch. The action scenes are impressively well shot and rendered, and Watts does a great job of putting you in the middle of the action. Sure, it’s nothing on the grand scale of an “Avengers” movie, but “Far From Home” holds its own pretty well with excitement, laughs, and tension (including one nightmarish sequence that looks like Sam Raimi could have guest directed it). It may not invent anything new about superhero movies, but as both a stand alone superhero movie, and as a “Spider-Man” movie, it delivers the goods on a sufficiently satisfactory level. Rent it.

Also New This Week

Itsy Bitsy

This is the week for spiders. Though, instead of being a superhero, the spider in “Itsy Bitsy” is the villain. Since the movie is incredibly muddled and stutters along with zero flow while barely making any sense, from what I could figure out, if an ancient cursed vase is opened up without a blood sacrifice being made first, a giant spider goddess will appear and kill you and everyone around you, starting with your cat.

The man with the vase is Walter Clark (Bruce Davison), a collector of ancient artifacts. He’s also an invalid, so he hires live in nurse Kara Spencer (Elizabeth Roberts) to take care of him. Along with her she brings her bratty son Jesse (Arman Darbo) and annoying, trouble-making daughter Cambria (Chloe Perrin). It isn’t long until I’m wishing for the spider—which is anything bit itsy bitsy—to do me a favor and off these fools already.

As if the premise and characters weren’t stock and cliché enough to be a snooze fest, the movie is horribly directed. Actually, the incompetence shown by director Micah Gallo may be the only thing that kept me awake as this movie grinds through the motions. The dialogue is bland as can be, but the actors’ attitudes are all at odd angles with each other. It’s like they’re each performing their own version of the scene in their own movie and are way out of sync with one another. It’s super weird and off-putting, something that has to be seen to be believed—though there is no way I recommend doing such a thing. I don’t care who you are, I’m sure you have a better way to spend 94 minutes of your time. Skip it.

More New Releases: “Framing John DeLorean,” biopic about the complicated and conflicting viewpoints surrounding the man who created the car model popularized by “Back to the Future,” starring Alec Baldwin and Morena Baccarin; Chernobyl,” well-regarded HBO mini-series about the 1986 nuclear power plant disaster in the USSR, starring Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Paul Ritter, and Emily Watson.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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