Spider-Man: Far from Home ★★★½

Can’t believe the latest Spider-Man is basically just the Lizzie McGuire Movie on a higher budget, with a lot of inspiration from The Incredibles. Basically what I’m trying to say is that Mysterio in this movie is Syndrome if Syndrome was Paolo.

In all seriousness, this was a fun, light hearted romp that unfortunately continues the MCU trend of limiting Spider-Man’s dramatic potential. Amongst other things, the gaping hole that is Tom Holland’s Spider-Man’s relationship with Uncle Ben continues to frustrate - how does Tony’s death refract Peter’s trauma over Ben? Especially with Aunt May’s new romantic relationship? A movie supposedly tackling Peter Parker’s grief over the loss of a recent father figure that has no time to even subtextually reference Uncle Ben (unless one tries to read subtext into this movie very charitably) is maddening. Civil War implies Uncle Ben’s death did happen in this universe, but without any follow through or contextualization since, this Spider-Man and his motivations remain enigmatic, and not in a fun way.

Tom Holland and Zendaya develop a wonderful chemistry in this movie, with Zendaya’s aloof and snarky MJ peeling away to reveal a more endearing adolescent awkwardness and getting us to truly believe in this relationship. The high school elements of the movie are very entertaining and fun to watch, even if they quickly stretch any sort of credibility and sense. Jake Gyllenhaal is a delight, and the Mysterio story generally plays out fine, with some truly spectacular fight scenes that play off Peter’s insecurities and character journey in interesting and unexpected ways. However, the fact that the most gripping moments in this movie occur in its end credits seems to highlight and betray the MCU’s lack of confidence and investment in its standalone films, treating them as stepping stones to other movies, constantly deferring tantalizing hooks and stories to the future. It reinforces how pointlessly safe these movies can be, a sterile, antiseptic incarnation of Spider-Man that dodges the tricky, risky stories the character can bring forth. Stop hinting at these stories and tell them!!! 

As Lizzie McGuire’s doppelgänger, Isabella, once said, 

Sing to me, Paolo! 

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