This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Muscala’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Regardless of how you feel about Marvel's dominance you have to recognize when they get it right and Far from Home falls firmly on the successful side of things. With a handful of notable exceptions (Ragnarok, Winter Soldier, Guardians 1) I don't generally love the standalone entries in the MCU but dug Homecoming largely due to Keaton's Vulture. Far from Home introduces another really great villain in Mysterio, played by Jake Gyllenhaal.
It's spot on casting that taps into the artificiality of Nightcrawler and the unhinged over the top Jake we all know and love. Mysterio's "powers" provide some of my favorite scenes in the entire MCU in the form of nightmarish illusions that collapse in on themselves to wonderfully disorienting effect. When a spider crawls out of a zombified Stark's eye socket and its eyes turn into duplicated Mysterio helmets I decided right there that the film would have to do a lot to undo the good will built up from that sequence. The successful action sequences continue with a battle against the drone army and a final hallucinatory showdown that keeps you guessing until the very end.
The non-super hero half of the story tracks Peter's class field trip to Europe and his budding romance with MJ. Exotic locations and a solid soundtrack are able to keep things interesting even when this thread dips a bit. It's hard to pay much attention to a supposed threat to Peter in the creepily over aged classmate which unfortunately gets a lot of attention. The humor during these stretches is surprisingly effective, the distressed chaperones and of course Ned are highlights. In fact it's full of really funny scenes throughout such as Fury getting constantly interrupted in his meeting with Peter or Happy trying to throw a shield. Emotional story beats are occasionally a little ham-fisted but it's hard to be too upset with scenes like Happy seeing Tony in Peter on the jet.
My main complaint early in the film is the stakes of the world-threatening elementals which felt especially exhausting after Endgame. Thankfully not only were those fake threats the film even takes on a meta tone with Mysterio commenting on the "Avengers level threat" that the elementals pose. An issue that did not improve by the end of the film is this iteration of MJ which I find largely irritating. It's the latest in the April Ludgate Rosa Diaz lineage of edgy random pessimists, characters that I do like, but it's a lot harder to balance a side character in a film the same way you can across multiple television seasons. I also think Zendaya is partly to blame and just not quite a strong enough actress to make the character work.
Thankfully Holland, Gyllenhaal, Jackson, Favreau, and others do more than enough to pick up the slack. I also loved seeing Angourie Rice get an expanded role who was excellent in The Nice Guys and a promising young talent. I understand the superhero fatigue but after two strong entries in Endgame and Far from Home I'm personally optimistic that they haven't quite squeezed the life out of the genre yet.