Back again for another Spider-Man movie and the end of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. How does one follow up one of the most anticipated movie of not just the summer, but of the entire year? Well, if I’m being honest, a little sloppily.
Spider-Man: Far From Home catches up with Peter Parker after “The Blip” in which people disappeared and reappeared five years later and after the final battle against Thanos. He’s feeling the pressure to take on the role that Iron Man once filled, but like most teenagers under any kind of extreme pressure, runs for the hills. And by hills, I mean a class trip to Europe where he plans to confess his feelings to MJ. But things go awry as Nick Fury tells Spider-Man that he need to help traveler from another dimension Mysterio, a.k.a. Quentin Beck, to defeat an elemental monster. However, something is not quite right and as the story unravels, Peter has to make hard choices and learn to trust himself to do the right thing.
The story of Far From Home is pretty gripping, given that it wraps up the little bits of storyline leftover from Endgame. Peter’s stress and grief are palpable and his desire to do what he can right makes him even more sympathetic. His arc this time around is from escaping his situation to embracing what makes him super, which I loved. There is also a very dark twist to the narrative towards the end that I think really makes the film stand out and give it real weight. It’s a very tightly focused story with only one major storyline, which is a nice contrast to the highly complex web of the last two films in the MCU.
In terms of cinematography, the movie is as gorgeous as ever. We don’t get too much use of the scenic locations, but the shots in Venice and on Tower Bridge more than make up for it. It has the same look and feel from Homecoming with a brighter color palette. The three costumes we see for Spiderman are great, even the “Night Monkey” one with the flip-up glasses. Mysterio’s costume is also super cool with little details that catch the eye. There’s also a trippy scene in the second act that calls to mind the effects from Doctor Strange in the best way, so keep an eye out for that.
The acting remains solid. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is still basically that pitch perfect blend of awkwardly lovable and impressively fierce. Zendaya’s MJ gets some more screen time, wherein we learn that she is a true-crime junkie and as sarcastic to the core as we all hoped she would continue to be. I’m glad she’s so down-to-earth and give-no-shits, rather than a generic bubbly, vivacious teenager. Jacob Batalon as best friend Ned is still a lot of fun, but has less to do now that Zendaya is more center stage. But of course, the newcomer and heavy hitter here is Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, who plays it very cool and appropriate soppy until the right moment…though we’ll get into what that is in a minute. And Samuel L. Jackson is great, obviously, you don’t even need to question that.
So from here on out, we are in deep spoiler territory. Skip to the end to see my final verdict!
I think one issue is that the villain of the film makes very little sense. For one, Mysterio’s heel-turn is basically telegraph by the fact that he is Mysterio. I have literally never picked up a Spider-Man comic and even I know that Mysterio is a villain. The costume screams villain from the rooftops. Still, Gyllenhaal’s turn into an egotistical asshole is perfect and seamless. However, what I want to know is why this team of people has decided to basically go all in on creating a new hero. What are they getting out of it? What’s their end game, what’s the goal they’re hoping to reach? I get that Beck is just trying to out-do Tony Stark by being the new Iron Man but the rest? Did they just hate Tony that much?
Another problem I have is MJ and Peter’s relationship. I’m not saying that they don’t have chemistry or that Peter isn’t absolutely adorable trying to impress her, but there’s no build-up. There’s more build up to Happy and May being an item because, at the very least, we see some shy flirting. With Peter, he goes from liking Liz Toomes in Homecoming, to having no interactions with MJ in either Infinity War or Endgame, and now suddenly, he has a crush on her? We aren’t given any reasons why Peter likes her other than she’s MJ and that’s who he’s supposed to like. And believe me, I think they are so cute together and really like that MJ is more true-crime-obsessed, awkward, and give no shits that the other versions of the character. A little bit more background would have been nice is all.
Last of my issues is something I found kind of hard to describe at first. I left the theater without that satisfied feeling I usually get when I watch a great movie but I couldn’t place why. I had laughed, I had been engaged, that should be enough, right? It was only after listening to NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour (yes, I am exactly this type of person and no, I don’t own a tote bag…yet) that it hit me. The upbeat, quippy nature from the first film and from Civil War was gone. Far From Home is a much more serious movie wherein Peter is lost and trying to figure himself out…which means that the character is all muddled in the process. And it’s not like the MCU hasn’t done levity in the face of trauma before, just look at Iron Man 3. Still, it all just felt so serious and clumsy that I felt like it lost its identity as a Spider-Man movie.
I will say though, the two end-credit scenes are gold. It will be interesting to see the aftermath of Spider-Man’s secret identity being revealed, though it should be easy enough to disprove Beck’s claims and the doctored footage. Getting J.K. Simmons back was also a very nice touch. As for the Skrulls taking over for Fury while he’s on a space-cation, one has to wonder if this has to do with a sequel to Captain Marvel.
For the most part, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a good movie that borders on great but never quite crosses that line. Still, as the last major film in Phase 3, it does a solid job of tying loose ends and getting us hyped for what’s to come.
While Spider-Man: Far From Home is a strong effort with a lot of the same characters we’ve come to love but somehow fails to stick the landing. Still definitely worth a watch, but it definitely gets to darker places than you might expect from this branch of the franchise.
- Great cinematography and costuming
- Strong acting
- Solid story
- Issues with the villain’s goals
- More background needed for the Peter/MJ relationship
- Spider-Man loses some of his identity and in turn loses some of what makes his movies unique