Spider-Man: Far from Home

Spider-Man: Far from Home ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Far From Home (aka Spider-Man v Fake News) is far from Homecoming.

Let's talk about comedy for a second. The not-so-secret-ingredient of the MCU is it's comedic timing, the improvisation-light approach to banter that works because it feels organic and consistent to the well-established personalities of the characters. Most above-the-line creators from Spider-Man: Homecoming have returned, but the formula, the youthful chemistry of the first film feels off here. Personally, I would chalk this up to the film losing Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley as credited screenwriters, leaving only Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers (whose other previous Marvel credit is Ant-Man and the Wasp. Ugh.). This sequel is also trying to balance too much in terms of exposition and that impacts the natural rhythms of the cast; multiple jokes feel like McKenna and Sommers wrote the narrative beat first (update on "The Blip," Mysterio's backstory, May's charity work, etc.), then grafted a laugh-line onto that.

Aside from the arhythmic cadence of the comedy, early scenes have a patchwork feel, like the cast members could not all make it to set or to the reshoots, so Watts shot them in singles against green screen and cut them in later. Or maybe it's Sommers and McKenna again, as Ned and MJ's personalities have been retconned (another character feels "off," too, but that's given a clumsy post-credits explanation). MJ, especially, goes from being a stone-cold, confident cynic in Homecoming - always more aloof and unshakeable compared to Peter - to being an awkward, nerdy girl. That would not be so much of a problem, if it didn't make her a mirror of Peter, which kills the dynamics of their romance.

Two elements work, though: Peter's arc and Mysterio after the midpoint. To the former, it's an inherently Spider-Man kind of conflict for Peter to feel guilty about balancing his personal and superhero lives in the shadow of Tony Stark; having the mise-en-scène constantly surround him with images and memorials to Tony puts the viewer in Peter's headspace. And, to the latter, while I think the "reveal" is clumsy in terms of exposition (what the hell are those flashbacks doing in there?!), Mysterio's motivation and incorporation into the MCU mythos is quite clever. His reality-distorting fight with Spider-Man in the second act is visually brilliant (and akin to the "mind trip" sequence in Doctor Strange)!

Okay, maybe there's a third thing, too. I literally pumped my fist in the air during the first post-credits scene. Even though the humor and chemistry may be off, that final revelation is peak MCU; using a surprise cameo to set up an audacious cliffhanger that will keep fan speculation alive until Spider-Man: Homeward Bound comes out in 2023.

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