Morgan DeAtley’s review published on Letterboxd:
No film should have the responsibility of following up Avengers: Endgame.
There’s absolutely nothing like it. It is the culmination of ten years of storytelling, and, in my eyes at least, it pulls it all together in a way none of us had ever really seen. It is an absolute landmark in blockbuster storytelling.
This is doubly challenging for Spider-Man: Far From Home, because, regardless of franchise connections or lack thereof, it also has to follow up Into the Spider-Verse, an arguably more important landmark in blockbuster storytelling. It managed to bring a new, mesmerizing and gorgeous kind of animation to the forefront of the American idiom, as well as giving us what is easily the best silver screen Spider-Man story. It’s simultaneously a brilliant character study of both Peter Parker and Miles Morales, and a multiverse spanning love letter to the concept of Spider-Man itself.
So, this leaves Far From Home in a place reminiscent of where Peter Parker begins in the film. Caught in the massive expectations left in the wake of Tony Stark, he’s expected to perfectly fill in his shoes. In many ways, it’s a brilliant extratextual device, using the context of where Endgame and Spider-Verse have left the creative team behind Far From Home to tell its story of overcoming, stepping into the shoes of the next generation, and embracing it for what it is, something different, something new, but hopefully, just as engaging. The only problem is, Peter Parker does a much better job of filling Stark’s shoes than Far From Home does of filling in the dawn of the new MCU’s shoes.
As a film viewed in a vacuum, Far From Home is perfectly acceptable. It has some truly excellent moments, Tom Holland is still the only live-action Peter Parker to ever be worth a damn, his relationship with MJ does a fantastic job of investing you in their budding romance, the supporting cast provide a lot of laughs, and Jon Watts has very much stepped up his game when it comes to helming a film. But it makes some deeply confusing choices. Ones that evoked thoughts of 90s superhero comics (the dark ages, for those unversed), ones that threaten to derail the film entirely, and ones that just serve absolutely no purpose to the film we’re given. It’s a mixed bag, one so non-commital and distracted that it just fails to leave much of an impression. Gyllenhaal is good as Mysterio, but he’s given so little to do and such a backwards and odd motivation that all it ever amounts to is wasted potential. It’s so frustrating, because so much of its 2 hour and 9 minute runtime is spent on EuroTrip-esque (no, that is not a joke) antics and bizarre side character tidbits (seriously, what is going on with Flash Thompson here?) that it feels like it’s running from having anything to say in terms of its characters, old or new.
It’s simply not enough. It’s a decent film, thoroughly watchable, but it needed to be more than just another passable MCU movie. It needed to step up to the plate and knock it out of the park.
No film should have to live in the shadow of the two films that came before it, but Far From Home is such a half-measure that all I could really think about during my screening is how much I want to watch Spider-Verse on a 4K television.