Review - 'Spider-Man: Far From Home'
Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame
I’m a little exhausted (in a good way) of writing positive Marvel Cinematic Universe film reviews. I’m running out of adjectives and I wish I could just say; “Hey, Spider-Man’s back. Still good. Check it out”, but that’s not how this works. Anyway, Spider-Man’s back, he’s in a good movie, and that means you should probably check this one out, but I guess read on anyway?
Spider-Man: Far From Home is both a sequel to Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and friends are still adjusting to “the Snap”, which is now referred to as “the Blip”, where half of humanity was evaporated by Thanos for five years, and miraculously came back, un-aged. Peter Parker hangs up the costume for a school trip, but during the vacation a deadly threat rears its head, along with a new hero, Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). Peter must don the costume once more while also trying to kindle a romance between him and his crush, MJ (Zendaya).
I think I’ve been taking the Marvel Cinematic Universe for granted, well, slightly. Why you ask? I mean, I’ve enjoyed all of the films, and I get excited for each new one that comes out, but I’ve never really sat and thought about how crazy a feat it is that Marvel Studios has been able to pull off. 23 films in and they haven’t had a single outright failure. I know arguments can be made for a few of them not being up to par, but I think most will agree that the MCU is shockingly consistent and nearly bulletproof. Nobody has ever had a run this unanimously successful, and as I watched Spider-Man: Far From Home, I really began to reminisce on all of the films in the universe thus far, and how this latest one continues to carry that baton to the next guy as they lap their competitors for the hundredth time. It would be easy for these films to rest on their laurels, but they always seem to be reaching higher, and this film is no exception.
Miraculously, Spider-Man: Far From Home is able to acknowledge events from Homecoming and Avengers: Endgame that lead up to its own story while also being a singular entity that has unique character that doesn’t rely on the other films as a crutch.
The film is also one of the more light-hearted entries in the ever-expanding MCU, which makes sense when you consider how heavy Avengers: Endgame was, I think we all needed a lighter romp to lift our spirits. That said, it’s not devoid of its own stakes and darker moments. There are sequences in this movie that made me nervous for Peter and his friends, which is remarkable considering these films are so skittish when it comes to offing big names when it’s not a final Avengers movie.
There are also so many refreshing changes to the Spider-Man formula capitalized on from Homecoming that make this movie stand out and not feel like a retread of old material. The villain, for once, is much smarter than the hero and outwits Peter Parker at almost every turn. The MJ/Peter Parker dynamic is flipped where MJ admires/is attracted to Peter instead of being enamored first by the hero. And though Spider-Man comics purists won’t appreciate this as much; I found the influence of Tony Stark in this sequel to be interesting in that Spider-Man now has to contend with someone else’s demons due to Stark’s absence. To have Spider-Man inherit villains from someone else is an interesting spin on the formula.
Then we have the cast, who truly make this film worthwhile. The highlight character of this film for me is Mysterio, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. His casting is basically a dream-come-true for me because he’s not only one of my favorite working actors today, but he’s also playing one of my favorite Spider-Man characters. He knocks it out of the park. Also, Zendaya is given much more room to flesh out MJ and I found her to be such a breath of fresh air when it comes to superhero love-interests. She’s an independent thinker and she knows what she wants. She also posseses a witty, slightly macabre sense of humor which is always a plus for me. Tom Holland continues to be an excellent Peter Parker/Spider-Man and shows growth through tremendous struggle in this film. I also like that he has many flaws and is portrayed as a hero going through some serious growing pains. The rest of the supporting cast is also pretty great across the board with a special shout-out going to Jacob Batalon, Samuel L. Jackson and Jon Favreau.
The effects and action have also received a bit of an upgrade here. In Homecoming, I felt like many of the action sequences were, let’s just say, not as impressive as they were in previous Spider-Man films. In fact, if there’s one thing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 did better than these more recent films, it was making compelling action sequences with convincing special effects. Now, I’m not going to say that Far From Home has some of the best Spidey action I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely a step up, even if the family gets a little muddled in CGI slosh.
Really, the only other complaints I can lodge against Spider-Man: Far From Home are nit-picks. The movie doesn’t really do anything to stand out from the rest of the pack, it also shies away from emotional gut-punches like we’ve seen in the Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, and even parts of Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man movies. These aren’t huge problems though because Far From Home makes up for those things in other areas. The only thing in this film that really throws a wrench in things is the mid-credits scene, so stick around.
Barring a few quibbles, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a delightful film with heart, thrills and excellent characters. Jon Watts has proven for the second time that he is the right man for the job when it comes to bringing Spider-Man to the big screen.