Spider-Man: Far from Home

Spider-Man: Far from Home ★★★★

SYNOPSIS: It slips in a few areas, but Far From Home is a thoroughly investing experience and easily the best that this version of Spider-Man has ever been. 8.0/10 B+


Spoiler-free! Though obviously spoilers for Avengers: Endgame are present.

Going in to this movie, I had relatively low expectations. Not only did Endgame leave a bad taste in my mouth regarding my opinions on this Peter Parker (which I've already talked about in a review of it), but it was being hyped up as a fun, "breezy" little time that I feel, at this moment, it shouldn't be.

And I'll just get that out of the way right now: I dislike how much it just glosses over what happened to the world. I get that the day was saved and everything, but you still have billions of people thought dead for five years suddenly appearing back, and society now has to readjust itself again for them. Plus, those resurrected are probably reeling from having missed five years of life. But this movie for the most part treats it as just another thing that happened, and now everything's fine despite the changes. Worse, the characters treat it that way! I'm sorry, but this still bothers me. It makes no sense, it's wasted potential, and it really lessens the blow of everything that's happened. Even what they end up calling the event feels like a joke.

However, that being said, I will give it some slack because it takes place many months after the resurrection. I'm willing to believe that they've gone through all of the recovering, emotional reunions, all that stuff already, and have settled back into somewhat of their routines again. So you know what? Okay. I'll accept that this whole thing has blown over and that we're mostly done with it. I may not fully agree with that approach, but for the sake of enjoyment I'm willing to finally just put these complaints away, take the missed opportunities on the chin, and move on.

And I'm glad I'm able to do that, because it means that I can appreciate Far From Home for the surprisingly really strong, really satisfying movie that it is. This was way better than I had anticipated, and really does a lot where I felt Homecoming was lacking.

For as much as I just said that I'm moving on from the whole Snap thing, I have to give the movie a ton of credit for how quickly it allowed me to do so. That's because there is just an effortless charm and charisma injected into every scene, character, and interaction. This was one of Homecoming's biggest strengths, and it's one of the better examples of the MCU being able to make their comedy feel natural and properly-placed. There was no moment where I was cringing or face-palming over an out-of-place joke - outside of my above grievances, but that's more in relation to the other movies. Within this movie's story, it works beautifully, and humor adds to the characters and never compromises the emotion. Jon Watts has proven twice now that he knows how to do it right.

But more importantly, despite having just as many quirky, comedic beats as Homecoming, Far From Home felt far more impactful and meaningful. For one, Peter has a very understandable and relatable major dilemma going on. You've got the smaller stuff regarding MJ (more on that later), but then there's how he copes with the new responsibility placed upon him in the wake of Tony Stark's death. At first it seems like the conflict and his reasons for his mindset are just him wanting to take it easy, but then as you go further you realize the true thing that's been holding him back. And it not only is interesting on its own, but the movie has a few wide-reaching ways of presenting how this ties into the larger themes of the expectation, worship, and perception of our heroes, themes that I feel are very appropriate to look at for the fresh, young face that's meant to carry the torch. The primary conflict of the movie revolves around this, and it made what appears to just be a high-school romp on the surface feel like it had something to say and something deep for Peter to realize. And I love how it resolves, both script-wise and in the way it's presented.

Peter himself is the most interesting and likeable he's ever been in the MCU. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are great writers, but in every movie they write that features Spider-Man, they turn him into the Jar Jar Binks of the MCU. But in his solo outings, he's far better. Especially here, where you feel his excitement, confusion, embarrassment, happiness, shame, and everything in between, and it all comes across so naturally. And Tom Holland finds the perfect balance between it all with a script that allows him to do so much more properly.

But there's also the more down-to-earth storyline going on, the budding relationship between Peter and MJ. I've stated that I absolutely loved what little we saw of this MJ in Homecoming. I thought that every word she said was really funny, she had a cool demeanor to her, and I genuinely wanted to know more about her. So imagine my joy when she was revealed as ... well, MJ. And this movie absolutely did it not disappoint there. Just on her own, she remains the same lovable character as before, except this time given more time to shine in many ways. Both Zendaya and Watts did an excellent job of keeping that wry, cynical side to her while also making her still feel engaging with her added screen time. And when she and Peter interact, it's the definition of adorable and constantly puts a huge grin on my face. I could just have these moments be the entire movie and be satisfied with it. They're both just so precious, and makes for my favorite romance in the MCU to date. 

And partially because I love these two and want to see them together, him being torn between his wants and responsibilities results in me feeling bad for him in a way I haven't felt since Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2. In fact, I feel that the movie as a whole is the most emotionally resonant since Spider-Man 2 due to how it carries itself and what's at stake for Peter. 

There's a great unpredictability to it all as well. Though this is likely because I didn't watch a single trailer for the movie. I had no clue what the threat would be, what the arc would be, anything that would happen, none of it. And this is definitely a movie where you want to go in like that, because it throws you for several great loops. It's also one of the most second-viewing-friendly MCU movies for how much you can glean from a rewatch, and I loved how it kept me on my toes.

And Jake Gyllenhaul ... yup. Just yup. I'm not gonna say a word about his character, or how or why he works so well. I'll definitely go more in-depth if I do a spoiler review, but Jake G is so, so perfect here. He's one of my favorite actors, and he reminds me why once again.

Even the action felt more intense and engaging. It's shot decently, has some memorable visuals, and in a great surprise, you can see a certain aspect of it change as Peter does, leading to an absolutely glorious payoff. And speaking of visuals ... wow, I was really not expecting some of the sequences that we get. The movie gets surprisingly wild in a couple of scenes. And once again, it all ties into Peter's emotional state and journey. All in all, this just feels like a much more proper, fully-realized, fulfilling movie than what we've gotten for this character in a long time.

Unfortunately, while the action is well-thought-out, the effects are just really not up to the task. If you thought the effects in Black Panther were off, this movie makes them look groundbreaking. There might have been an excuse if this only applied to a few of the specific scenes, but it persists through the whole movie. Normally I'd say that it must be a budget thing, but this is Disney! And it's an MCU Spider-Man movie, so there's almost no chance that they fail to get returns on their investment, so why can't they give this movie the money it needs?! I usually don't harp on this so much, but it's bothering me now how it seems like CG technology seems to take two steps back for every one step forward it takes. As well as how much more intense the action here would be if they just cleaned it up some more.

Finally, the credits scenes? Stay for them, stay for them, stay for them! That's all I'll say.

How ironic that this year the MCU movie I went into with the lowest hopes for turned out to be my hands-down favorite. Spider-Man: Far From Home was a huge surprise to me. There are some things I wish it had done differently, primarily the aftermath of Thanos's actions and the visual effects. But even with those problems, this the first Spider-Man movie to come out since Spider-Man 2 that I can say I love. It's also the best MCU film to come out this year, and is the first time I felt that Tom Holland's version of Peter Parker was truly done justice from start to finish. Just when I feel like I'm ready to write off this character, he comes back swinging for a damn good time.


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