Review: “Spider-Man: Far From Home”

WARNING: As “Spider-Man: Far From Home” deals directly with the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” this review discusses some plot details from “Endgame.” If you still haven’t seen it, read this review—and watch “Far From Home—at your own risk.

3 out of 5 stars.

Spider-Man: Far From Home” has the misfortune of being the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to follow the massive success of “Avengers: Endgame.”  But if “Endgame” was the culmination of the entire MCU up to this point, “Far From Home” acts as an intermediary between that film and whatever is coming up next for the MCU.

Spider-Man: Homecoming” director Jon Watts returns to direct its sequel, which sees Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and his friends going back to school after returning from what is now referred to as “the blip”—that period of five years between Thanos’ snap and the Avengers resetting that event when half of the universe’s population vanished.  Still feeling the loss of his mentor Tony Stark, Peter is looking forward to a summer in Europe with classmates, spending time with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), and hopefully telling MJ (Zendaya) how he feels about her.  But he’s also one of the few active Avengers still on Earth, and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has bigger plans for him.  It turns out that a group of beings called the Elementals are attacking Earth.  Quentin Beck, later dubbed Mysterio (Jack Gyllenhaal), arrives from an Earth in other dimension to stop them, but he still needs help, and Peter finds himself faced with having to be more than a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, and doubting whether or not he is ready for that.

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) makes an appearance as Spider-Man alongside his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei)

“Far From Home” is equal parts surprising and conventional.  Much of the latter derives from the awkward teen comedy elements, none of which are very original, but all of which are funny and make this story and these characters so much more endearing.  Holland has quickly become a treasured member of the MCU, and for good reason.  He nails all the elements of Peter’s personality, reminding us through it all that, unlike the other members of the Avengers, he is still a kid, a kid who wants to live a normal life but who also has had a remarkable amount of responsibility thrust upon him.  Holland also has great chemistry with the very funny Batalon and Zendaya.  MJ’s hard exterior cracks a bit in this film, but her dry sense of humor is ever present.  We also see Marisa Tomei reprising her role as Peter’s Aunt May, who has struck up a relationship with Tony Stark’s friend and bodyguard Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), who has been looking after Peter in Stark’s stead.

This movie takes Spider-Man out of Queens and brings him in to new environments, resulting in a world tour that is so light and breezy, the actual superhero elements almost feel out of place until the final act.  But through Mysterio, this film actually brings up an interesting conversation that can be applied not just to this film, but to the MCU as a whole: the idea that so much weird nonsense has happened to Earth over the past several years, everyone will believe almost anything.  It also forces us to rethink the motives of the heroes we hold in such high regard (that one isn’t exactly a new idea to the MCU, but still).  “Far From Home” provides a bit of a twist on the classic Spider-Man villain, and Gyllenhaal absolutely eats it up, imbuing the character with just the right combination of coolness and madness.  The action sequences and special effects are surprisingly trippy—maybe not as impressive coming off of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” but it’s still fun to watch Spider-Man battle a different kind of villain.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays the classic Spider-Man villain Quentin Beck/Mysterio in “Spider-Man: Far From Home”

As a character, Peter doesn’t go through any big changes in this movie, although by the end he is much more confident in his abilities and what he is going to do with them.  But this film also promises to deal with the consequences of the post-blip world, and while we get a bit of that, it is something the movie missed the opportunity to do a lot more with.  We know that Peter and some of his friends vanished and came back the same age they were before, and others didn’t and are now five years older.  But we really don’t see how that massive event—coming at such a crucial time of life for these teenagers—affected them personally.  In fact, it really doesn’t seem to have bothered them at all.  We only get the occasional hint at how the rest of the world is coping; for instance, May works at a shelter that aids people displaced by the blip.  The biggest element of “Endgame” that “Far From Home” deals with is the absence of Tony Stark/Iron Man.  Tributes to him have popped up all over the world, and Peter both misses him and is afraid that he will let him down, while other parties attempt to take advantage of his death for their own gain.

Despite its uneven story and missed opportunities, “Far From Home” is a solid follow up to its predecessor, “Homecoming,” as well as to “Endgame.”  It also boasts some of the most intriguing end credits scenes in the MCU so far, promising that Marvel isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  It isn’t nearly as epic as that film or some others in the MCU, but then again, what could be? 

Runtime: 129 minutes. Rated PG-13.

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