Every now and again, I walk out of a movie theater, relatively pleased with what I just watched, only as I dwell on the movie driving home, I realize that it was, in fact, a garbage film. (A good example is Suicide Squad). Much less often, I leave the theater thinking a movie was just fine, but thinking about it afterward, I realize that I just watched a really good film.
Spiderman: Far from Home is in that second category, movies I like more the more I think about them.
Spiderman: Far from Home picks up where Avengers: Endgame left off, with Peter Parker (Tom Holland) grappling with the death of Tony Stark and where that leaves him as Spiderman. Exhausted by the grind and the responsibility put upon him by Stark’s death. Peter is looking forward to a school trip to Europe, where he can leave his Spidey-suit at home, hang out with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), and get with the girl he likes, MJ (Zendaya). Except when he gets to Venice, his vacation is hijacked by Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), who drafts the reluctant Peter into a fight against a couple immensely powerful creatures called elementals. To fight the elementals, Peter joins forces with Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), who presents himself as an interdimensional superhero whose world was destroyed by these creatures. Yet Beck is a man of mystery, and not all is as it appears.
Before I get into the review, I will preface this by saying I don’t have a strong attachment to Spiderman. I know many people grew up watching the Spiderman cartoon, the Tobey Maguire movie trilogy, reading the comics, and playing Spiderman video games. As such, Spiderman is one of their favorite superheroes. I just didn’t, and my first real experience with the character was when I first saw The Amazing Spiderman in 2013. So if it sounds like I am an amateur Spiderman fan, it’s because I am.
That being said, Spiderman has grown on me over the last couple years, and movies like Far From Home are a big reason why. It’s well acted, it’s well-executed, it’s clever, and it’s legitimately funny. There was a lot of ways a movie with Beck, aka Mysterio, as the main villain could’ve gone wrong, but Far from Home, helped by a great actor in Gyllenhaal, pulls it off while making it fit really nicely into the MCU. There’s a scene in the middle of the movie where Mysterio is messing with Spiderman’s head, and it might be the best scene I’m seen in any movie this year.
As for the rest of the cast, Tom Holland is excellent as Spiderman (like usual), and it was great to see a full-grown Nick Fury back in action really for the first time since Captain America: The Winter Soldier. While none of Peter’s friends steal the show, they all hit their notes, and Zendaya in particular rises above the generic superhero love interest in a way that doesn’t seem forced. Another standout is surprisingly Jon Favreau, who took time off from directing The Lion King to reprise his role as Happy Hogan for the sixth time.
Far from Home is a personal story about Peter Parker dealing with being Spiderman after the death of Tony Stark. This means it’s not going to be quite as epic as Endgame or even Captain Marvel. Because of this, I was a little worried of how Marvel would manage downsizing the stakes from having to respawn half the life in the universe to Spiderman having to keep some guy named Brad away from the girl he likes. However, the movie quieted those worries, and I walked out of the theater feeling touched.
In fact, I only have two complaints about the movie. The first is that everything involving Peter’s school trip around Europe starts to drag by the movie’s end. The trip is the movie’s main source of humor, most (but not all) of which hit, but by the third act most of the jokes have overstayed their welcome. My second complaint is that there is a scene where Mysterio is designing an illusion in which the villain hints at plans for world domination and threatens to shoot his companions in the face. It’s a bad scene, and it’s not necessary for his character or the movie. All it does is take the air out of an otherwise compelling villain, mostly because Marvel doesn’t like morally grey villains, and feels a need to remind you that the villain is in fact a terrible person. Neither of these flaws compromise the movie in any meaningful way, and better movies have had worse flaws, but it does keep Far from Home from swinging as high as it otherwise might.
Spiderman: Far from Home, is what a superhero summer blockbuster ought to be – enjoyable, funny, and a great time at the movies. It’s not quite as good as Spiderman: Homecoming, but it is the second best movie I’ve seen this year, and it’s the best Marvel sequel since Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s summer blockbuster season, treat yourself to a movie, and go see Spiderman: Far from Home.
Final Rating: 8/10. Swinging into the top tiers of the genre, Far from Home lands on its feet.