Seth Andal’s review published on Letterboxd:
With a lot on its shoulders, Far from Home almost appears as the ultimate anti Spider-Man film. Instead of Uncle Ben we have Tony Stark, instead of New York we have Europe’s Venice, Prague, and London, and instead of being your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man - Marvel says it’s time for an Avengers level threat. It doesn’t just stop at the increasing relation to the Iron Man films and Tony Stark himself, as how the narrative forms around the MCU so closely has both hurt and helped the film. Besides the fact that “Far from Home” is such an annoying title to me, the film runs through various struggles but is able to stick the rocky landing.
Instead of keeping the word home in the titles for what I’m assuming will be referred to as the Homecoming trilogy, Spider-Man: Field Trip or Spider-Man: Abroad sounds way cleaner while still tying in with the school theme. If I were Fiege I’d make that change, but if I were actually Fiege I’d make a few other changes to this film too.
Far from Home has a very tough task to handle and is hoped to accomplish so much all in one stroke. In a simpler world all the film has to do is follow-up Homecoming, but it also has to dance with the magnitude of Endgame. FFH attempts to say goodbye to Tony Stark after his death, close the Infinity Saga after “the blip,” pass the torch to Spider-Man as the new face of the Avengers, and tackle numerous subjects in between as a sequel to Homecoming. The film shoots in so many different directions that I can’t help but enjoy the contained consequences of the original film much more.
With the increased stakes from Homecoming’s heavily grounded nature, it still tries to keep the charming high school dramedy lens underneath. The familiarly awkward humor (which feels kind of redundant) and romance is amplified into the vacation across Europe, and even though it keeps the likeability it also drags down the film for me. All the side threads simply feel so unnecessary, and it doesn’t balance between its smaller problems and larger stakes. I don’t care about Happy and May, I don’t care about Ned and Betty, and somehow the biggest villain at this point of the film appears to be Brad. Keep in mind that the first thing Peter does with EDITH is accidentally order a missile strike on this guy - who happens to walk in on him switching into his Night Monkey suit.
Yeah, I like how laidback this film is, but it’s so silly and naive that it’s hard to take seriously. FFH has to pick what kind of film it wants to be, and unfortunately both the high school antics including Peter’s budding relationship with MJ and the increased responsibilities in Peter having to step-up drag each other down as they fight for being the main conflict of the movie. It’s messy and unfocused. Then all that time spent, and MJ, Ned, Flash, and least of all Brad aren’t any closer to becoming characters with more depth.
Peter wants to go back on vacation, wants to get with MJ, has to become the next Iron Man, defeat Mysterio after giving him EDITH (what a dumbass), and I just think that there’s too much going on for FFH to really take the next step as an actually ambitious Spider-Man film. I hope that the next film finally lets the character come into his own, as even though I fully understand their intent with Spider-Man fighting what Tony left behind in Mysterio, FFH really feels less like a Spider-Man solo film and more of Marvel checking off its list of open-ends (like the logistics of the blip and setting up Iron Man’s successor) sometimes.
The action is the one thing I can confidently say is improved from Homecoming though. The Mysterio illusion sequences are absolutely off the charts and were incredibly creative. It was visually insane. The web-slinging choreography feels more fluid and lively as well. Jake Gyllenhaal’s over-the-top performance is on point, and I sincerely hope we get more of him in the future.
I’m glad the MCU’s Infinity Saga can close on a solid note, however Far from Home ends what I believe was another mediocre 2019 year in the franchise.
“Can Marvel expand on the room they’ve left Spider-Man to grow?”
It’s a question that won’t be answered any time soon, but the jaw-dropping post-credit scenes will only leave me wondering if there is something truly impressive lying ahead.