Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home

Endgame is over. The Avengers won. But the world is still suffering the losses and trying to put their lives back together. So where does that leave us? In the webs of our friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man of course! Tom Holland is back with his second solo adventure in an attempt to pull off his very own Winter Soldier, as Marvel fans would say. And honestly, I think he does just that. Spider-Man: Far From Home is not only a truer end to the third phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe than Avengers: Endgame, but the web-slinging hero truly accomplishes a more memorable film and performance than his first attempt in Spider-Man: Homecoming. This movie is fun, true to character, and a much needed break from the inter-galactic threats that have “plagued” Marvel movies for the past few years. #SMFFH is a must-see summer film even if you aren’t caught up or a fan of the superhero films (seriously though…) for it’s beautiful special effects and cinematography, amazing performances, and all-around good time feeling of adventure and coming-of-age story.
Peter Parker is back in school after battling The Mad Titan and his cronies and students are ready to finish the year that brought with it what is being referred to as “the blip,” leaving many students (other than Peter’s closest acquaintances…coincidentally) five years older than their friends. It’s time for the science students to take a field trip to Europe and Spidey is more than ready to take a break from saving the world and just enjoy being a kid, seeing the sights with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), and telling his high-school crush MJ (Zendaya) that he likes her. But the world isn’t finished needing a hero just yet as Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) sends for Peter with news of another threatening disturbance, this time in the form of “Elementals”: chaos-ensuing forces of nature here from an alternate universe set on destroying Earth. And the only reason they know this is because along with the Elementals came another unlikely hero, Quentin Beck, dubbed Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). They need Spider-Man’s help in stopping the Elementals before it’s too late, which means that Peter’s plans must be put on hold once more as he learns what it means to take responsibility for his powers in a world without his own hero and mentor, Tony Stark.
Like I said, I really enjoyed this movie. It’s hard for us to move forward in a cinematic world without Iron Man, let alone also losing Captain America, Vision, and Black Widow, but Jon Watts (Spider-Man: Homecoming) is back to steer us in the right direction and delicately balance the trauma with humor. This movie pulls off incredible balance right from the start: 5 years gone vs. moving forward, saving the world vs. just a kid, the weight of the multiverse vs. maintaining a contained approach to storytelling. I think that’s probably the movie’s biggest achievement since there was no point in the movie where I felt like it tipped too far in one direction, and it very easily could have in ways like Thor: Ragnarok by cutting emotional scenes too soon with humor or Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with an over-abundance of humor that almost panders for laughs (both movies I seriously enjoy btw, just being honest here). This film is also tasked with moving us forward into the next phase of the MCU and that means not only rounding out a 23-film narrative, but also setting up another conflict with enough force to require a return to screen from our other heroes and even another Avengers-type installation (or three, who knows at this point). Stay until the end! What the mid-credits and after-credits sequences do in this regard are unlike any other sequences that I can remember in that they literally leave us hanging on the edge of a massive cliff, much bigger than Nick Fury telling Tony Stark about “The Avengers Initiative” at the end of Iron Man or even Thanos’ memorable line, “Fine, I’ll do it myself” after Avengers: Age of Ultron. This one, in my opinion, is huge.
There are many other things to appreciate about this movie too. Spider-Man, although not alone, is battling threats without the guidance of Tony Stark. Homecoming was a great, fun movie but it did rely on that mentoring aspect which no longer exists. This time, Peter is carrying the hero role by himself (mostly). Enter Mysterio, the other world-saver. Mysterio’s power, if you’re unfamiliar with the character, is to manipulate the surroundings in a way that can cause confusion and disorientation. The way they show this in the film is super trippy, but also eerily reminiscent of our other recent Spider-Man movie, the animated feature Into the Spider-Verse. The quality here was top-notch, and I think just as good as the animated movie’s use of CGI. Another great element was, of course, Tom Holland’s acting. The kid is amazing and I’m so glad that Disney decided to go with a younger actor this time around, because unlike Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, looking at Tom I can actually believe that he’s 18 years old. His struggle with emotions and loss and love reflect his supposed age much better than either of the previous Spider-Men. But honestly, he is the youngest Avenger, so why pretend like he’s a completely mature human? He’s still in high school, more prone to making mistakes and the weight of a loss is a heavy and complicated process for him. But through it all he is lovable and quirky and awkward and funny and heroic all rolled into one, and it just works. They keep this movie as much a coming-of-age story as they do a superhero narrative, and I really appreciate that decision being made. This movie doesn’t have a Keaton-quality villain (in my opinion), but the villain this time is still able to propel Spider-Man forward in both his maturity and understanding of responsibility in much the same way. And that also leaves plenty of room for Holland to shine. It also helps that Parker has several other really solid actors and characters surrounding him to help pull off this adventure, both in his friends and foes. Without giving anything major away in this film (notably who is friend and who is foe), I’ll just list a few notable characters:
Ned – Dorky and funny, Peter’s best friend is one of the few who know his superhero identity and he does a great job of maintaining his role as Spider-Man’s sidekick while also supporting and encouraging him as a friend.
MJ – I wasn’t sure about their approach to the new Mary Jane in the previous film, but it did feel like it could work and now I’m quite certain of it. Her abrasive and awkward character play well with Peter’s and I’m genuinely excited to see where their budding relationship goes from here as it reminds us of our own awkwardness with a “first love” and the high-school dating scene.
Happy – Jon Favreau is back to reprise his role as Tony Stark’s former/now Peter’s assistant. Although he’s shown up in all three Iron Man films and briefly in both Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Endgame, he has also been an executive producer in all four Avengers films. In addition, since directing Iron Man and Iron Man 2, he’s been busy directing Cowboys and Aliens, Chef, The Jungle Book, The Chef Show (Netflix, so good!) and now The Lion King. The man has insane talent and the level of support that he gave RDJ’s character is now going directly to Tom Holland, so I’m just very happy (pun intended) to have him back.
Aunt May – Marisa Tomei plays Peter’s aunt and caretaker, but this time around you can definitely tell that she’s trying to keep a closer eye on Peter and the choices he makes, since she is also one of the few who know that he is Spider-Man. Her character is also given a side-fling in this film that I think will go over well moving forward and provides some very funny moments in the movie.
Mysterio – The man of mystery. His story of being from another Earth is surprising, but not altogether unbelievable given the events of Infinity War and Endgame. And his efforts to help defeat the Elementals after failing to do so on his own world are admirable, but can Peter and Nick Fury trust him? Well, you will have to go watch the movie to find out, because I’m not saying anything more about him! I mean, other than the fact that Jake Gyllenhaal gave a really good performance, but that’s nothing less than expected given his caliber of acting (Donnie Darko, Zodiac, Prisoners, Enemy, Nightcrawler, The Sisters Brothers, etc.).
So that’s kind of all I have for this one! I will note that a complete setup of technology and characters for the villainous “Sinister Six” is now complete, which means that we could potentially see a movie outside of the MCU with Spider-Man and all his foes sometime in the near future! Not sure how that would work or what it would look like, but it’s exciting nonetheless. Kevin Feige and the team pulled off another great Marvel film here, and now that Phase 3 is officially over we get a short break before Phase 4 starts up next year. I believe the MCU is slated to do five films in the next three years (don’t quote me, but obviously we will be getting plenty), so go see this movie and then take a breath while you can because the superheroes will be back soon! Cheers!

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