Spider-Man: Far From Home is our third second Spidey film in the past fifteen years. That’s a lot of web-slinger to take in and that’s not even considering Into the Spiderverse, the standalone film that came out last year that walked away with Best Animated Picture at the Oscars this year. So we understand if you may be feeling a little apprehensive about jumping into yet another Spider-Man movie so soon after seeing Miles’ introduction at the end of 2018 and being emotionally drained after Endgame. Thankfully, Far From Home is not only a blast but it’s a heartful, funny and surprising look at a teenager’s life-one who just so happens to be a struggling superhero.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is both a sequel to 2017’s Homecoming and 2019’s Avengers: Endgame and very much assumes you’ve seen that blockbuster behemoth. The film wastes no time setting up the major beats of the narrative: after dealing with being dusted and coming back to life only to witness the death of Tony Stark, Peter Parker is feeling a little lost and overwhelmed being Spider-Man and is understandably excited to go to Europe with his school’s science class for a normal, high school vacation with friends. He’s also developed a massive crush on MJ and hopes to share those feelings with her during his vacation, where he can just be Peter Parker for a few days. This movie deals a lot with Peter Parker as a character and we spend a lot of time with him and his struggles as both an awkward high schooler and a superhero out of his depth. Parker is perfectly content dealing with local, small crime and isn’t quite sure if being a full-time Avenger is really his thing, especially without the guidance of his mentor, Tony Stark. During a sequence in Venice when Hydro-Man attacks, Parker is more than content with trying to help civilians than fight the monster, a testament to his character, but is that really living up to the legacy of Iron Man? Does this Spider-Man even want to be the next Iron Man?
Of course, being a superhero movie, things don’t go exactly to plan and Parker’s European vacation is turned upside down by the sudden appearance of the Elementals, which includes the previously mentioned Hydro-Man, powerful beings that will spell the end of the world. How do they know this? Well, they have first-hand knowledge from one Quentin Beck, a man the high schoolers have dubbed “Mysterio”, played here by Jake Gyllenhaal. Beck is from another dimension as it turns out and comes to help the citizens of Earth-616 (the MCU) from certain annihilation, which is what happened to his reality. This Beck is extremely charismatic and you immediately get behind him thanks to what he’s saying and how he’s saying it. Beck teams up with Nick Fury and Maria Hill to stop the Elementals, who are terrorizing Europe and recruits Spider-Man along the way to prevent the destruction of the planet from happening yet again. While much of the action centers around the Elementals, I found them to be kind of bland.
While the movie never flat out says it, the whole point of this narrative centers around “with great power comes great responsibility”. Parker understands the bigger picture that is at play here and the expectations put onto him to become the next Tony Stark. But Parker is also a confused and uncertain high schooler who likes Star Wars references. He just wants to hang out with friends and go tell the girl he likes how he feels. His personal problems are much, much smaller than the bigger picture and Parker is currently struggling as to which one deserves his immediate attention, especially while on an excellent Euro trip. Peter’s high school trip is a treat to watch in of itself in that we get to visit all these amazing destinations ourselves thanks to the on-location filming that the movie utilized for its European settings.
Quentin Beck thus becomes an interesting character for Parker to bond with. Mysterio is a classic Marvel villain but actually serves to be a more heroic character, with the idea being that perhaps he can become a new member of the Avengers. He commends Spider-Man for his hard work and supports him as a superhero but also pushes Peter to make sure he’s doing what’s best for him-not his alter ego. This Mysterio can hold his own though and isn’t just a fishbowl shooting green mist out of his hand like the trailers would have you believe. A sequence around two-thirds of the way through the movie is utterly spellbinding-you’ll know it when you see it. Mysterio’s powers feel very comic book accurate but also updated in just the right way to make sense for the big screen in 2019. Beck’s point in this movie is to challenge what a superhero is and how they end up being viewed by the public and he does bring up some interesting ideas about it all.
It’s not all serious drama though. This movie is actually immensely funny and a huge part of that comes from Tom Holland’s line delivery and chemistry with his classmates, which includes Zendaya as MJ and Jacob Batalon as his friend and confidant, Ned. Peter and Ned feel like they’ve been friends for years and know exactly where they stand on the social ladder. Tony Revolori returns as Flash Thompson, the seasoned douchebag to get under Peter’s skin who just so happens to be a massive Spider-Man fan. For me, I loved spending those human moments with Parker and his classmates.
There are a few negatives to take away from Spider-Man: Far From Home but ultimately, they’re very minor. One would be that the editing and pacing of the movie can be a bit wonky. Clocking in at just over two hours with credits, this is one of the shorter Marvel movies but sometimes the pacing can be a bit off. It never drags but it does feel like it’s a bit lost-especially in the middle. Another editing note is that sometimes the shot sequences and scene transitions are awkward and poorly timed. I also found the action sequences to go on for perhaps one or two minutes too long. They’re not long scenes to begin with, but most of it ends up just feeling like noise. Also worth noting that, being a shorter film, it’s curious that a lot of shots and sequences shown in the trailer are absent in the final cut.
But this isn’t a movie about action. It’s more about high school, relationships and finding one’s place in the world. Is it a bit cliche and predictable? Yup, but it’s fun, light-hearted and inspiring. Oh, and there are two after credit scenes-the first one being one of the more shocking and pivotal after credit scenes I’ve seen in a Marvel film-I need to know what happens now! It’s a great set up and has already made me excited for the inevitable third entry. I left the theatre pleasantly surprised and thoroughly entertained, so much so I can say I prefer Spider-Man: Far From Home to Homecoming-and I watched Homecoming recently so that one is still pretty fresh in my mind!
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