👹 Lee, or El Duderino, if, you're not into the whole brevity thing’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Yes! I still need the cape. Make sure you work out those wrinkles. I might be shaking hands with the queen later today".
You might not want any part of this, but I was really disappointed by Spider-Man: Far From Home. At face value, it was fine-serviceable, but certainly not as good as it could have been. Not only does it telegraph it's already incredibly predictable plot, but it also suffers from an immense lack of pacing and focus. It's trying to bounce around a lot, which I can see being deliberate in parallel with how Peter Parker is juggling his teenage life, his budding love with MJ, the death of his mentor and father figure, the whole dusted and back again, oh...and being Spider-Man. It's undoubtedly a lot, but it felt like John Watts didn't know what he wanted to give more focus and actual credible development in. He stayed too long with the whole will they won't they and school shenanigans, that the actual dynamic between Spidey and Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) is forcibly rushed and a bit unbelievable. In its defence there is a self-awareness to how small scale Peter is trying to be in something that becomes big scale very fast. In many ways this is appropriately the Iron-Man 3 treatment given to Spidey and Peter, but I just didn't buy into how fast the actual plot falls into place. I really think that some of the highschool stuff like Martin Starr and JB Smoove could have been lowered in order to build up Mysterio much more. There's just such a weird structure to the film, especially the beginning 2 minutes that completely feel put of place. You don't have to read the comics to know where it's going, and I think that was a big miss on Watts's part, especially having pulled off The Vulture (Michael Keaton) so damn well in Homecoming.
What is handled well is the hefty transition that Peter deals with after the results of Endgame. I think that I gave Watts a pass on not building or referencing where The Avengers are during FFH, because not even Feige and the MCU know what step is next. The hints left are very much for the comic readers, and without spoilers, I can just safely say, S.W.O.R.D. There are some name drops, but the film tries to be as personal as it can be, giving primary focus not to Spider-Man, not Mysterio, not Fury, but to Peter Parker and his personal life. There's a nice message about being yourself in the film, but it's really not played up emotionally or very prevalent. One line from The Rock in Fighting with my Family sums up and gives more resonance than any of the FFH lines, "Stop trying to be the next me, and worry about being the first you". This is the exact sentiment and internal struggle that Peter is having, especially with the entire world seemingly thrusting the responsi9of becoming the next Iron-Man. There is a very heartwarming scene between Peter and Happy, that doesn't necessarily pass the torch, but absolutely shows the exact vision Tony had years ago with Peter. Easily one of my favourite scenes in the film, "I love Led Zeppelin". And one little note since we're on music, where the hell was Michael Giacchino's score? There was no use of Spidey's theme, that I could audibly make out, which could have fit in with the themes in the third act.
While I was most excited and pleased with my man, Jake Gyllenhaal playing a Loki-esque Quentin "Mysterio" Beck, the entire film relies on the emotional performance and core that Tom Holland's Peter brings on the euro trip. He has a lot to manage, and I really admire that he visibly handles all the dilemmas and hurdles that teenage Peter must deal with. It's not hard to place yourselves in his shoes, and Watts effectively manages to pull at my heartstrings with the use of Jon Favreau's returning, Happy Hogan. The lingering resonance of Tony Stark's sacrifice is still fresh in mind, as FFH seems to pick up days maybe weeks after the climactic conclusion of Endgame. We've all had that struggle between desires and responsibilities, it's a natural part of growing up and maturing into adulthood. And of course, the theme of owning up to your actions is a key element to Spider-Man, and I'm so glad that were straying away from having to use Uncle Ben over and over. You can tell that Watts really wanted to bring in plenty of fan service, but try his hardest to avoid regurgitating, "With great power comes great responsibility". In that regard, I still believe that Holland and Watts successfully pull off that highschool naivety, wonder, and learning phase to Peter Parker. Which in direct response fuels the continued dichotomy in Peter's ever-growing life. This is a big step forward for his arch, but I feel like the stakes in order to get where he needs to go were not played up nearly as intense and dramatic as they could have been. I mean, come on, going from fighting Thanos and his hordes to this seemed like a walk in the park. I don't want to risk spoiling it for those who have yet to piece it together, but I was left wanting more or expecting the stakes and consequences to be far more severe. Even the mid and end credit scenes that everyone is raving about didn't really do much. Sure, that mid credit scene was hilarious, but not for its implication, more so for who delivers it.
Jake Gyllenhaal was an enormous and pleasant surprise when casted. And regardless of being his personal designer and biggest fan, I have to admit that I could see other actors playing thr same role. It takes up till almost the third act for his character to really shine, and once it does it gets to the levels I would have wanted him to have much more of. You can tell that he wasn't really let loose from the studios, and towards the latter half where he becomes himself, it's very resemblant of his Velvet Buzzsaw character. But I very much enjoyed what Gyllenhaal brought to the table, and I appreciate the direction and effort that the film placed into fitting his character into the story. For my own personal taste, I would have dedicated much more time building up the bond that Mysterio creates with Spidey. I just think that unlike Peter and MJ, this hero bond moves far too fast wirh little to no lasting imprint on certain hasty decisions made. Regardless, I think that Mysterio has the best scenes, especially the Berlin sequence leading up to the train. That was awesome, and I wanted it to go way darker. The visual effects (teehee) truly stood out in those two sequences, but the actual CGI fights throughout the rest of the plot were very hollow and weak.
Overall, yes I was left feeling a bit empty-handed and a little bored at some scenes, but it was still a fun entry. FFH had the unfortunate responsibility of cleaning up the messy room that Endgame left before being picked up by its parents. And briefly thinking in it, I do think had this film maybe been split into two continuous entriea, it would have benefited the character development, stakes, and the (still obvious) reveals. It'd make for a perfect third redemption Spidey film, with Peter really coming into his own, and with more capability for the Sinister Six to be utilised. I will be seeing it again most likely, and maybe then I'll have more thoughts. But for now, I didn't love it as much as I expected to. But Jake in that gray motion capture suit and slicked back hair...😍.