Movie Review | Spider-Man: Far From Home
Movie summary: Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever. (IMDb)
I went into Spider-Man: Far From Home with high hopes based on what I'd read from others who'd already seen it, but walked out wondering if I'd missed something. The Raimi films haven't aged well (despite what some insist), I only saw the first of Andrew Garfield's appearances as the title character and thought that was dreadful so avoided the second.
Then came Tom Holland as the new Spider-Man, shining briefly, but gloriously in Captain America: Civil War. Homecoming came next and was good, if not great - something I thought would be a good benchmark to then take to the next level. Infinity War and Endgame then boosted Spidey even more, with his appearance in the latter provoking one of that movie's loudest reactions.
While the story of Far From Home picks up shortly after Endgame, I don't think it really carries through on the potential of setting up Spider-Man as one of the core heroes now that the original Avengers are no more. This isn't a bad - or even mediocre - movie, but it feels like a small step forward rather than the huge leap I was hoping for.
Far From Home's main problem is that there are two highly-contrasting stories that just don't mesh that well, meaning that neither of them succeed all that well. The 'teen romance' story feels especially insubstantial thanks to relegating a lot of the supporting cast to glorified extras. They feel very much like movie characters with set roles rather than real people.
The superhero side of things fares a little better, but doesn't quite work - especially if you know anything about Mysterio at all before going into this. I won't spoil exactly what happens, but I hope that the next MCU Spider-Man movie will actually give him a threat not created by Tony Stark to deal with - in fact, it'd be great if Stark's name wasn't mentioned at all next time.
Tom Holland is still great as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, easily being the best of either ever seen on-screen. Again, I just hope that this is the last movie where his actions are influenced by Tony Stark and he can become his own hero rather than reacting to the actions of another. I genuinely hope Holland sticks around for the rumoured trilogy of trilogies planned for his Spidey.
Opposite Holland is Zendaya, who is outstanding as MJ - which she is consistently referred to this time out instead of Michelle as in Homecoming. She's just as fantastic to watch as Holland and clearly has a big future ahead of her - she's so effortlessly entertaining to watch and makes MJ probably my favourite character in Far From Home.
The problem for the pair is that, despite their obvious talent and ludicrous chemistry with each other, the story doesn't really do them any favours. Their romance is done really well and feels as perfectly awkward as it needs to be to get across the point that they are both just sixteen years old without ever becoming that cringing, hard-to-watch style of humour that would be off-putting here.
Unfortunately, Spider-Man and his efforts are the problem, with the superhero side of the story butting in constantly to drag them apart. Yes, this works to make things a little trickier for the relationship to really get going but too often feels a little forced rather than a natural flow of events that feels believable and makes you feel sympathetic to the pair - the movie is reliant on their talent for that.
Going back to Mysterio, Jake Gyllenhaal is fine in the role but the character feels a little flat. There's no real depth to the character, and his motivations are more than a little petty - his arc in this movie, if you can call it that, is particularly contrived and is reliant on a lot of unpredictable events having to work in his favour to succeed.
Now a first for the site, highlight the space below for a spoiler-filled paragraph about Spider-Man and Mysterio:
As said above, it's annoying that this is the second villain in a row created by Stark for Spider-Man to deal with, and Peter's reaction to Mysterio never feels that authentic. Mysterio's plan requires a lot of luck to go his way and, fortunately for him, that's how the movie's written, with the worst moments coming thanks to Spider-Man making out of character decisions, because they have to happen for the story to continue.
On the other hand, there's a Spider-Man vs Mysterio showdown before the climax that is incredible fun to watch and is the highlight of the movie, with Mysterio taking full advantage of the inexperienced hero to get what he wants. Even in these spoilers I won't spell out exactly what happens, but it's honestly great fun to watch and visually brilliant - you'll definitely know what I mean when you see it.
Spoilers end - back to normal from now on.
Another of Far From Home's issues is that - apart from the scene in the spoilers above - it doesn't really have any other truly great moments. If anything, the next most impactful scenes in the movie are the mid- and post-credits scenes, which you should absolutely stay to watch, with the mid-credits sequence feeling more like what should've been the last proper scene of the movie.
As for where this would rank against the other Spider-Man movies? I'm not sure yet, but will be seeing this again soon to help settle my opinion on Far From Home, but I don't think it is quite as good as Homecoming because a lot of this feels like a retread of what we got in that movie and doesn't feel quite as fresh as a result.
All of that might well seem like a lot criticism, but I honestly did enjoy it enough to be happy to see it again so soon after watching it for the first time. Holland and Zendaya are both amazing in their roles, there's a fair amount of very funny moments and a couple of action sequences that are better than any other big-screen version of the character.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is enjoyable enough, but feels like two movies smashed together rather than a cohesive whole. Tom Holland and Zendaya are a great screen couple with truly incredible chemistry and an honestly believable romance - there are a lot of great pieces here, but they just don't quite fit together properly.