After the events of “Avengers: Endgame”, Spider-Man must rise to face a new world of challengers.
Before we really get started here I need to address the fact that this review will contain spoilers for “Avengers: Endgame”. I will try to tag any major spoilers for plot points in this film, but I’m not going to try to skirt round spoiling other movies. Sorry, but if you haven’t seen “Endgame” you probably shouldn’t be seeing this one anyways.
This film does a lot of things right, but it is in no way a great movie. I enjoyed myself; I’m sure I’ll end up watching this film again before the next Spider-Man flick comes out; and more than likely it will end up sitting on my shelf of movies… still, I’ve got a few bones to pick.
“I’m just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.”
After the deaths of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., “Captain America: Civil War”) and several other less memorable Avengers (sorry), the world is at a loss and is trying to rebuild itself. Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland, “The Lost City of Z”) swings in to do a good deed now and then, but really, he’s just looking forward to his summer vacation with his friends, where he has plans to ask out his crush MJ (Zendaya, forthcoming “Dune (2020)”). As his vacation gets under weigh, elemental creatures begin attacking the cities his class visits and Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson, “Unbreakable”) approaches Parker saying he needs his help. Though at first resistant, Parker eventually agrees to help and he teams up with a new superhero named Mysterio (“The Sisters Brothers”) to fight the rising evil.
It’s funny, actually: the scenes that I liked most in this movie had absolutely nothing to do with Spider-Man, it had more to do with Spider-Man’s alter ego Peter Parker and his friends and classmates MJ, Ned (Jacob Batalon, “Avengers: Infinity War”), and Flash (Tony Revolori, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”). Despite the fact that I typically really like Jake Gyllenhaal, I thought that his character and the storyline involving Nick Fury was, frankly, rather forgettable. I say this is funny because for the bulk of the movie Peter Parker is fighting against the responsibilities of being Spider-Man; he just wants to hang out with his friends on summer vacation, and more than anything else, that’s what I wanted for him too.
I think Marvel is smart. They realize that after the emotionally charged ending of “Endgame” they would need something a bit lighter and more grounded. I think that for the most part, this film fits the bill. For probably about 60% of this movie, the problems Parker is dealing with are small and manageable; they never go too far over the top. But then, whenever we start dealing with the elementals things go off the rails. There’s a line in this film where someone says that they need an “Avengers-level threat” in order for the situation to feel dire, and this film certainly does its darndest to try to rise to an Avengers-level threat. There are a few sequences in this film with wild CGI explosions and crazy action sequences involving those elementals, and every time we came back to one of those scenes I was bored (however there are some illusion sequences that I thought were pretty cool!). I found myself wishing for Michael Keaton to return as the Vulture; at least that character had a lot of depth, and Keaton himself was fantastic. Give me a villain I can relate to, and I will find a fight between him and Spider-Man infinitely more interesting than another bland CGI battle that lasts for ten minutes. There are some twists and turns as far as the plot goes, but even if you’re mildly familiar with Spider-Man and his side characters, then you should sort of know where the film is going in relation to Mysterio’s storyline.
Tom Holland is (in my opinion) the best Peter Parker we’ve gotten so far, and he makes a pretty good Spider-Man as well. The supporting cast is good as well. I find I’m more and more impressed with Zendaya. She’s pretty decent in this, and absolutely fantastic in HBO’s “Euphoria”. She gives me a ton of hope for her incredibly important role as the fremen Chani in the upcoming “Dune” remake. I thought Jake Gyllenhaal did a fine job as Mysterio, I just didn’t think the storyline was particularly interesting.
“Peter Parker here to pick up a passport please!”
As we all know, you can’t really just go into a Marvel movie and judge it by itself anymore. This is part of a universe, and it’s rare that any of these films can stand alone anymore. This is one of those Marvel movies where, had I not seen all the previous entries I would’ve been lost in a few parts (particularly after the end credits scene). I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing. I think that Marvel has sort of reshaped how people view cinema and cinematic universes, and we, as viewers, just need to be open to that change. The Marvel universe is just a TV show with a 200 million dollar budget for every episode. If you don’t like the way Marvel does things, that’s fine, there are a billion other movies out there for you to watch. You don’t have to keep up with them.
I actually find that the continually evolving world building of the Marvel Universe is one of the things that keeps me coming back. I could care less about the next entry of “Doctor Strange”, but if Thor or one of the Guardians makes an appearance I’d show up to see what happens… I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Marvel is smart; they know how to keep their audience coming back. As this film takes place right after “Endgame” its obvious that this film has a few questions to answer, and it also has the huge task of pointing Marvel ship towards its next destination.
Iron Man is dead (aka Robert Downey Jr. wants to move on with his career). The past decade is buried. Where do we go from here?
There are some seeds planted as to where I think Marvel could head, but I think the Marvel universe will head towards (relatively) more peaceful waters. I hope that it will be a while before we get another Thanos or some likeminded villain that can hurl moons at our protagonists and destroy half the universe with a snap of his fingers. Hopefully the conflicts the characters face will be more personal, and the villains will be more grounded... at least, we can hope…
I liked this film as a kind of coda after “Endgame”. It works as an endnote for the Thanos saga, and it’s given us a bit of a hint as to where we’ll go from here. Color me intrigued for the next entry, but don’t color me eager.
If I’m being honest, I liked both “Homecoming” and “Spider-verse” a lot more than this entry, but this isn’t terrible. Overall “Far From Home” is an entertaining outing with Spider-Man that, more than anything, gave me confidence that the next phase of the Marvel saga will provide just as much entertainment as the films in the first phases did. If you’ve been drinking the Marvel Kool Aid for this long, at this point there’s nothing left to do but keep on drinking, my friend.
End Note: this really has nothing to do with my judgment of the overall film, but one of my favorite parts was how they explained the age difference between those that disappeared during the Snap and those that came back, something that I myself pondered in my “Endgame” review. Essentially, the explanation was: why are you worried about this? It’s a freaking comic book movie. Move past it, people. That kind of irreverence had me in stitches within the first few minutes of the film. It’s certainly a good note to start on.
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