Mishal Is Afraid’s review published on Letterboxd:
Spider-Man: Far From Home is many things. It's a big, bloated summer blockubuster that never shys away from knowing its own scale & it's the (supposed) closing chapter of over a decade of filmmaking & storytelling. At least before another one kicks in. And another. And another. More than anything though, Far From Home is about legacy. And I can't think of a theme more appropriate for a movie that is positioned as this one is & the event it carries on its back.
I ended up liking this movie a lot considering how it completely subverted my expectations. More than its expectations, I still can't believe that Spider-Man is now officially locked into the MCU. This entire film was a firm reminder that Spider-Man is no longer lost in the shuffle as a character, hopping around between studios. He's here to stay for the long-haul and I couldn't be happier with what the folks at Marvel Studios are doing with him so far.
All of this made me appreciate what this latest entry means not just to Marvel, but to the character of Spider-Man.
In all honesty I'm not the biggest fan of Homecoming back in 2017. I absolutely adored the experience upon first viewing but it ended up growing worse upon each rewatch, with each subsequent viewing displaying more & more gripes I had especially on a technical level. Not bad by any stretch of the imagination, just a far cry from what I remember it being. Far From Home however seems to correct many of the issues I had with its predecessor, like not featuring Jake Gyllenhaals god-like face as a start. The MCU's latest entry retains its most prominent qualities from its initial entry, namely the stellar cast, brilliant performance (once again) from Tom Holland & another villain that is a blast to see go up against Spider-Man. A welcome change from a studio that has long been famous for their one-dimensional antagonists. In true sequel-fashion however, Jon Watts didn't just go big, he took Spider-Man around the freakin' world.
Quite literally actually.
Far From Home is big, really big, sometimes even so big you get lost within its scope. But in this case, the larger scale was actually a solid aid. All of the action sequences are more creative, bombastic & interesting to look at instead of the dark, gloopy mess its predecessor dished out. The score actually had tidbits that I can recall rather than simply acting as background noise, the cast has basically trippled in size for better or worse, the MCU's past factors in in ways you wouldn't believe & there are countless more character dynamics for Spider-Man/Peter Parker to play around with on this occassion. Most of which manage to work, some however really struggle to stand out properly. Everything I just mentioned adds a unique dynamic to the story, characters, stakes & really did help me get further drawn into the story, as well as build on what's already been established.
Shifting the resident hero of New York City outside his usual environment might also be the films greatest strength, while also providing something completely unseen in the MCU before. Seeing our resident web-head travel across various destinations was both completely new to the character on a cinema screen & really emphasized the role that he plays within the MCU after the events of Endgame. The world we knew back in 2017 is no longer unaware of the dangers lurking beyond earth, its felt the effects of forces greater than the ones they establish & it takes Peter Parker on quite the journey of self-discovery. The character himself feels bigger & more mature, which is all I can really ask a sequel like this to do to meet my most basic expectations. It carries everything that's been built to this point wonderfully while leaving you with even more to potentially sink your teeth into down the line, as well as suprisingly shake-up the state of the MCU as a whole.
That being said, the movies strengths is ironically in some ways its own weakness.
Overwhelmingly, its weakness lies within the first act which really never quite found its footing as the story tried to piece itself together. An overreliance on traditional MCU-level humour, a clunky setup for the films emotional archs & some odd pacing issues really did make the first 25-35 minutes difficult to get through as Peter Parker embarks on an adventure without Tony Stark in his life. Nothing really gels together really well and bounces all over the place at points, coming across as more of a slideshow than a sequence of scenes with their own individual purpose. It's a jarring feeling that is thankfully saved the minute Jake Gyllenhaal arrives on-screen in the 2nd act, which couldn't have come at a better time.
I should also note that Jake Gyllenhaal will not be discussed in any form here, because his character is almost impossible to talk about in any real depth without spoiling. So I'll leave it at this, he's beautiful and kills it as Mysterio when the film kicks into high gear.
Spider-Man: Far From Home however, is another resounding success for Marvel that I'm glad ended up as good as it is considering what it had the task of following. It isn't without its flaws, but manages to correct the many issues I had with its predecessor and send the MCU & Spider-Man into territory I am so excited to see explored, whether now or in the next 800 phases of this cinematic universe. Tom Holland has grown to probably become my favourite take on the character & assuming Jon Watts is returning to direct the 3rd entry, I can't wait to see what he has in store for us!