Movie Review: Spider-Man Far from Home
Rating: 2 and 1/2 Stars
Fresh off of watching Spider-Man: No Way Home, I popped in the disc for the middle film of the Marvel Spider-Man trilogy.
There’s a mystique about Spider-Man: Homecoming that weighs on me while I’ve watched these two sequels. All the films have been inspired to a degree but there was a freshness about Homecoming that stems from having a villain so tightly connected to the story. Far from Home delivers on having a compelling villain, but it doesn’t relay the same personal touch as its predecessor.
Far from Home follows the events of Avengers: Endgame with a solid premise. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) needs a vacation. Tony Stark who was Peter’s part mentor is dead after snapping Thanos out of existence.
Peter has resumed trying to live a normal life and plotting his steps to ask MJ (Zendaya) out. But before he can even get on the plane to Europe for his class science trip, Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) needs Spider-Man’s help.
Earth, Wind, and Fire (and Water) have returned to form the “Elementals” that are ravaging villages and cities across the world only to be thwarted by an extra-dimensional savior Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is working with Fury and Shield to stop them.
Peter has to balance between trying to communicate basic words with MJ and save his classmates’ lives amidst the frequent chaos monsters. Peter is also entrusted by the late-Stark with gadget glasses that can launch drone strikes and erase phone messages among whatever else the writers need the glasses to do.
Spoiler warning! Mysterio has ulterior motives. It’s not exactly far hidden considering Mysterio is a known Spider-Man nemesis. It’s a crafty bit of character creation though as the human behind the Mysterio illusion is Quentin Beck. Beck and his team had a bone to pick with Stark in a classic form of, ‘Stark gets all the credit while those behind the scenes are whisked away when their use is null’. Beck uses the illusion technology he presented to Stark as a way to project a reality where his character Mysterio saves the day from evil monsters.
Once Beck has taken Peter’s drone glasses from him, Beck goes down the tried and true maniacal villain path where he tries to create a catastrophe big enough to scare the world, and Mysterio will be there to save the day. But with Peter’s knowledge of Beck’s illusions, Beck determines he has to kill everyone that knows his trick.
As I said earlier, there’s a lot of inspired work that goes into these films even if there’s some clunky mechanics within the writing and character development.
This inspiration is foremost seen in a dramatic scene where Peter finds himself torn from reality. Beck delivers a sinister monologue as the visuals seamlessly drift Spider-Man further and further from reality. This is Marvel superhero filmmaking at its best. Plus, any excuse to give more work to a talent like Gyllenhaal is going to pay dividends, especially with a villain you can take in many directions.
What Far from Home needed was a stronger base around the theme of illusion. The idea that someone can make you see and believe the things that only they want you to see and believe. Far from Home doesn’t connect these dots for me across its runtime.
When Far from Home breaks away from the superhero shenanigans and refocuses on Peter’s personal life and struggles, the writing is too sitcom-like. Zendaya transcends the stereotype she’s written into purely on her own charisma, and Holland is capable as well. It’s every other character that falls into the trap of being written into a box. The real world Peter lives in doesn’t feel any more organic than a Big Bang Theory episode.
There’s even a subplot for the sake of having a subplot between Peter’s Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and Stark’s personal assistant Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). The laughs are typically cheap.
This is the Marvel formula diluted. The visual effects and cinematography and music among other technical achievements will more often than not be of the highest quality. The lead actors will give strong performances. The writing will be hit and miss. But overall so long as you like a helping of action and adventure with superheroes and quick-witted quips you can’t really go wrong.