Talking Movies: Spider-Man – Far from Home, 4L and The Girl with All the Gifts

Spling reviews Spider-Man – Far from Home, 4L and The Girl with All the Gifts as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.


“Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…

This week, we’re talking about a sci-fi action-adventure, a road trip adventure and a sci-fi horror thriller.

Starting off with…


Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.

Director: Jon Watts

Stars: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson and Jake Gyllenhaal

– It’s surprising to learn that Holland actually played Billy Elliott in the stage production, although based on his dexterity and look, it’s not unthinkable to see him as Jamie Bell’s equal-opposite.
– Spider-Man: Far from Home centres around a European school holiday, where tour guides escort a group of students on a whistlestop tour across Europe
– It interweaves two strands of the story, one in which Peter Parker is trying to plan the ultimate holiday romance with his high school crush and the other, in which Nick Fury is trying to recruit the young Spider-Man into dealing with a new threat.
– The main thrust from the original is still present, the visual effects are eye-popping as usual, yet aspects of the story are naturally geared towards making you question the entire film-making process.
– Essentially a high school romantic comedy with a big action-packed secret, part of the film’s joy is in its jostling between teen romcom and sci-fi actioner, operating with a lighter tone, playful enough to get away with awkward comedy only to springboard into cataclysmic action sequences.
– It’s a balancing act for Jake Gyllenhaal as Quentin Beck and Mysterio, which does require a few big jumps in technology and belief in order to accept his story.
– One gets the impression that the screenwriters were trying to tie in to the theme of fake news, as well as the precarious nature of authority and truth in today’s world.
– Coupled with the constant threat of being found out or inadequate, it makes this superhero comedy romance all about the hijinx, fun and rollercoaster ride.
– You definitely get your money’s worth with Spider-Man: Far from Home but it’s one of those fleeting films, geared towards maximum entertainment over substance.

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer

Moving on to…


Tocho, Jean Pierre and Ely travel from Spain to Mali to meet Ely’s dying father for the last time.

Director: Gerardo Olivares

Stars: Jean Reno, Hovik Keuchkerian and Susana Abaitua

– The Spanish road trip comedy drama finds two old friends banding together to relive their former glory days on a trip to reunite the trio
– driving a Renault 4L, a low range four wheel drive vehicle used in the first Paris-Dakar rally, the car becomes a character
– filled with vibrant colours and oddball hitchhikers they meet along the way it’s an amusing and kaleidoscopic desert adventure
– traversing beautiful dusty landscapes with aerial photography to make you think Hollywood should revisit Monument Valley and possibly remake The Seekers, 4L has a surreal edge
– while the performances are spirited, the drama operates much like its title, at a low level and content to simply amble along without any real sense of danger
– focused on nostalgia and the arduous journey, it’s a pity the screenwriters didn’t develop the characters further, instead relying on setbacks instead of dynamics to shape them
– 4L has all the ingredients for a winning road trip movie, yet feels uninspired, failing to build intrigue and suspense around their North African mission
– while fairly harmless, it works as a lightweight distraction, a spirited African adventure with a big heart

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!

And finally…


A scientist and a teacher living in a dystopian future embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie.

Director: Colm McCarthy

Stars: Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close

– Zombie horror remains popular, accessible to micro-budget films and scalable to the likes of big budget franchises like Resident Evil
– To be taken seriously, you need the undead to be the result of an outbreak and you can’t say the word “zombie” as is the case with The Girl with all the Gifts
– dealing with a an infectious fungal outbreak and scores of infected, now known as “the hungry”, this British horror thriller takes a slightly different approach making way for a new breed of half-dead, half-alive children
– following a group of survivors with very different motivations, the drama comes to hinge on the trust of Melania, an intelligent and empathetic half-dead half-alive girl
– undercover and trying to reach help in an overgrown and overrun city, they come to rely on her wits and abilities
– it’s a sleek, resourceful and efficient film that outperforms its budget, presented with passion and forethought
– well-acted, suspenseful and original for a well-worn genre, it’s rather impressive little thriller
– classically understated it refrains from going over the top with its action set pieces
– while it could have benefited from one or two little tweaks, it remains a fine production for fans of sci-fi horror

A solid 7 on the splingometer

So just to wrap up…

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME… while far-fetched, it’s a fun-filled and entertaining European superhero rollercoaster ride… A satisfactory 6!

4L… this colourful, lightweight, dusty, spirited and surreal African road trip adventure lacks spark… A satisfactory 6!

THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS… solid performances and strong production values power this sleek and efficient sci-fi horror… A solid 7

For more movie reviews, interviews and previous Talking Movies podcasts visit splingmovies.com.

And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!”