Spider-Man: Far From Home
Jacob Richardson | 29/06/2019
In a post-Endgame world, Spider-Man: Far From Home balances necessary pathos with the humor we loved in the original.
After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker is feeling the pressure to fill Tony Stark’s shoes. He is excited, however, to hang the suit up for a couple of weeks as his class goes to Europe for an educational vacation; a vacation during which Peter plans to tell MJ (Zendaya) how he feels. When he gets to Venice, however, he comes across an Elemental; a water monster ravaging the canal city. He won’t have to face this beast alone though. Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) flies in, shooting green beams at the monster and partnering with Spider-Man to take it down. It turns out that Mysterio is working with Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) to take down a series of these Elementals as they pop up across Earth, and they want Spider-Man to help them to do so. Alas, this throws a spanner in the works of Peter’s plans, because all he wants to do is be a normal kid for a little bit.
Tom Holland’s incarnation of the red and blue spandex clad spider boy is as consistently entertaining as it is beloved. This is fundamentally because Holland understands the character in a way, frankly, no other incarnation has before, and he plays him with all the boyish enthusiasm and excitement of the comics. That is why he has been a star of not only his own films, but also a standout in the broader Avengers movies. With Far From Home, director Jon Watts again successfully taps into this energy to create a movie that will have you consistently laughing, while also thoroughly enjoying the action.
Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio is the perfect companion piece to Holland’s Spider-Man. Filling a more kind and caring role than the pseudo-father figure Stark was, Mysterio straddles the line between authority and friend for Peter. Gyllenhaal’s performance is key to making this work; ensuring this isn’t a rehash of Tony Stark, but instead a much different figure in Peter’s life. That performance is coupled with other great turns from Zendaya and Jacob Batalon.
The action is also once again stunning. In particular, later world bending elements a la Doctor Strange create not only an incredibly different visual action sequence, but also finally find a good use in action for Peter’s spidey-sense. That is coupled with a series of late stage twists that keep ratcheting up the tension for our young hero, seemingly to an unbearable level.
Far From Home is, however, a very different film to Homecoming given its place in the MCU timeline. The first post-Endgame film, Far From Home desperately needed to deal with much of the fallout from that huge movie. In many ways it tackles this with aplomb, honing the sense of loss into Peter’s relationship with the deceased Tony Stark into a frequently emotionally effective barb, and explaining away many of the plot strands (like the classroom combination of those who weren’t snapped and those who were) in humorous asides. That being said, at times Far From Home can feel flippant. This is primarily down to the new Spider-Man franchises’ take on the character, which is defiantly humorous and upbeat. Watts tries to cram as much dramatic stakes into the film as he can, but he is limited by the bounds he set himself on Homecoming. Holland does great work conveying the emotionality of his loss, but one imagines how potentially distressing and affecting this material might have been in the hands of Sam Raimi (or indeed another director willing to push the tight Marvel boundaries). It wouldn’t have been as fun a film, but it might have been a more effective and compelling one.
While you might wish for something with a little more meat on the bones, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a hugely enjoyable, funny and engaging return to the MCU.