Directed by Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jacob Batalon
Considering “Spider-man: Far From Home” had the unenviable task of following up perhaps the greatest blockbuster/finale of all-time in “Avengers: Endgame” it’s shocking how great this film is from start to finish.
It has no right to be as endlessly entertaining without feeling like an afterthought in the wake of “Endgame’s” glorious finale yet here I am shocked at how much I loved this movie.
(Yeah own that shit, Spidey.)
It’s more than just a fun Spider-man romp, it’s genuinely a well-executed and engrossing superhero flick that will suck you in with its charm, thrills, and teenage rom-com joy.
“Spider-man: Far From Home” takes place not long after the events of “Endgame” as an inverse of the snap has occurred throughout Earth known as simply “the blip” where everyone who was snapped has suddenly come back into existence exactly as they were while those who weren’t snapped aged normally. Conveniently of course Peter Parker’s classmates, including his crush MJ, were snapped and subsequently blipped back and now they find themselves on a field trip to Europe where Peter hopes he can tell the girl he loves how he’s feeling. Of course things are never that simple as creatures known as The Elementals are wreaking havoc on planet and when a super powered man from another dimension named Quentin Beck shows up to stop them, Peter joins forces to help save the world once again.
“Spider-man: Homecoming” was a decent rebirth for the webslinger back in 2017, especially in the wake of the wretched “Amazing” series but even though elements of Peter Parker and Spider-man were there in Tom Holland’s portrayal I never felt he truly became either of them. He was a little too prone to quips, pop culture references and frankly had more in common with Miles Morales Spidey right down his fat Asian American best friend (which is a bit problematic). This isn’t to say “Homecoming” was a bad movie, in fact its easily a top 10 for the MCU, but it still felt like a Spidey flick that was just a bit off.
In “Far From Home” we finally, in my mind at least, get to see Holland really become your friendly neighborhood Spider-man but more importantly Peter Parker. Holland is more believably awkward in this film but nonetheless earnest and sincere, not reducing his lines to simple catchy one-liners but showing off more of the character’s personal emotional range. We even see more of the tech savy side that made the character one of the brightest young minds in the comic book.
Peter becomes less of a joke machine in this film, understandably given that his surrogate father figure in Stark has died, and we get to see how this teenager grows into these huge shoes left behind. Its obviously a lot to live up to and the film plays off these emotions of the character well but though he doesn’t go as far as saving the universe he still has a hugely satisfying arc by the end of the film.
(I mean it’s a lot of pressure to live up to the mantle of a billionaire, playboy, philanthropist who just saved the universe.)
This is all happening of course while Peter is just trying to be a kid understandably and get closer to the girl he likes only complicating the teenage angst and often comedic emotions that are playing out in the story. The film balances all this perfectly though as it juggles being both a cute teen rom-com, a Spidey flick and a worthy follow-up to “Endgame” all in one.
It’s kind of nuts how well all these elements work in harmony with one another but the film is just plain delightful, exciting and even tense all the way through.
It’s the pitch perfect cast that gels all these elements together in symphonic tune. Zendaya and Jacob Batalon return and play their parts exquisitely between MJ and Ned respectively. Batalon does a a great job again playing Peter’s best friend delivering some of the film’s most humorous moments and their onscreen dynamic is a ton of fun to watch. There’s undeniable chemistry though between Zendaya and Holland who’s pairing will remind you of plenty of your favorite John Hughes movies. The two help make the whimsical teen rom-com element of the story function at pitch perfect frequency as the “will they, won’t they” dynamic between MJ and Peter is both cute and plenty of times equally hilarious. It might be the most believable teen romance depicted in a major blockbuster to date right down to the awkwardness and dry humored dialogue.
(OTP! OTP! OTP! #ImTrash)
It’s Jake Gyllenhaal’s turn as Quentin Beck aka Mysterio who (SPOILER, if you’ve been living under a rock) continues the new upward trend of quality MCU villains. Gyllenhaal’s Beck is charismatic as hell as the spurned ex-Stark Industries engineer looking to take revenge on the legacy of the late Iron Man. The way his character manipulates Peter, playing on his insecurities and emotions, is at times tense to watch in the best way. It’s nice to have a villain in these films that isn’t just a dark mirror of the hero and Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio, even with low bar set by older films in the franchise, goes above and beyond in this role.
The action is of course fun as always is still very much enjoyable here. The finale is definitely in the top tier of the MCU. The way Mysterio uses his illusion tech in the movie to fight Peter is probably the most imaginative this series has gotten when it comes to these big hero vs villain fights. Holland and Gyllenhaal do great here and viewers will likely enjoy every minute of their exchanges.
(Daaaaww, he isn’t so bad.)
There are no major criticisms I have here, other than perhaps the film still recycles a bunch of old ideas and themes from previous movies but the movie still finds a way to keep it mostly refreshing and the new setting for Spidey certainly helps as well. It’s a Spider-man film at the end of the day though and your enjoyment will probably be gauged on how much you care about seeing another movie starring the webslinger or if the MCU’s franchise fatigue has set in for you yet. Though after “Endgame” I was certainly expecting this movie to be merely just a fun but forgettable in the shadow of “Endgame” but much like this film’s hero it rises to the challenge and helps fill the big shoes left behind.
There’s a joy and energy that’s palpable in the script and the cast playing it out from start to finish that’ll be hard for even the most burnt out movie-goer to ignore. It’s a popcorn flick that rises well above the average and that should be more than enough for most viewers.
After “Endgame” it was hard to imagine how this series could possibly continue without feeling stale but somehow even just two months after its release it still feels like the MCU has plenty of stories left and energy to tell them too.
So amazingly the MCU still has a pulse even after its Iron hearted God father passed on and there is no reason for fans to believe, yet, that this series will run out of ways to entertain us anytime soon.
Not that will stop Disney from churning these films out until the end of time of course…huhah…
4.5 out of 5
Keep making dad proud, Spidey