Monday, July 8, 2019

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Directed by Jon Watts.
2019. Rated PG-13, 129 minutes.
Tom Holland
Jake Gyllenhaal
Samuel L. Jackson
Marisa Tomei
Jon Favreau
Cobie Smulders
Jacob Batalon
J. B. Smoove
Tony Revolori
Angourie Rice
Hemky Madera

If you’re familiar with the MCU then you know all about the Snap, the event that took away half of all living things in fell swoop. The instantaneous return of all those same living things five years later is now known as the Blip. Spider-Man: Far From Home picks up after the Blip, and of course, the events of Avengers: Endgame when everyone is trying to come to terms with everything that went down. That includes our hero Peter Parker (Holland). After being snapped away, blipped back, and all the other things that happened to him over the course of the last two Avengers movies, it’s understandable that he feels like he needs a vacation from being a superhero. The stars seem aligned for that to happen because his class is taking a trip to Europe. He’s so intent on just being a regular teenager and professing his love for and to MJ (Zendaya) that he doesn’t even pack his Spidey suit. Luckily for him, Aunt May (Tomei) snuck it in his luggage. Once in Europe, all that regular teen stuff goes out the window because a giant water monster shows up and starts destroying things. Our hero tries to stop him, but most of the heavy lifting is done by a guy people start calling Mysterio (Gyllenhaal). Nick Fury (Jackson) gets involved and “gently” forces Spider-Man to work with Mysterio on future missions against more monster attacks.

The one thing the MCU has understood right from the very beginning is how to cast its heroes. Apart from Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, giving the role of Spider-Man to Tom Holland is their most perfect choice. Once again, he fully embodies the character. A few of his predecessors did a good job with the role of Peter Parker. Holland seems to be Peter Parker. Throughout the course of Far From Home Holland makes us believe he’s a kid for whom the pressure to be so many things piles up on. He just wants to be an ordinary kid but knows deep down he can’t. We recognize his desire to be as normal as possible and understand him making decisions that we know will come back to bite him. It helps us empathize with him rather than chastise him for his choices. This empathy goes a long way in informing our feelings on the film.

What also helps us get on Peter’s side is the budding relationship between he and MJ. It starts with the way MJ is written. She’s whip smart, funny, inquisitive, tough, and quirky without being annoying. Most important of all, she is no damsel in distress. We like her, and root for her, even when she puts herself in dangerous situations. Similar to our feelings for Peter, we understand her questionable decisions, not bash her for them. Zendaya brings all this bursting to life. Her chemistry with Holland is not quite on that Maguire-Dunst level, but that appears to be by design. MJ was a secondary character in Homecoming. Here, she is elevated to the first team as the seeds of her relationship with Peter are just being sewn. It’s already good but we feel like we’re building towards something that could be tremendous.

Of course, a Spider-Man is nothing without lots of swinging and wall-crawling antics. Far from Home handles that stuff with ease. The characters endless roster of baddies helps because Marvel is forced to give him a villain with abilities far different from his own. This keeps us from a generic final battle with two guys who do the same thing. Watching the villain and the hero match wits, as well as brawn, and the special fx to display this make it a fun watch. It extends to giant monsters and all the property destruction. It all looks great and is executed with a sense of fun.

Since this is Marvel, however, there are some problems with the villain. I’ll try to tip-toe around this because it could be a spoiler to those not familiar with pre-MCU Spidey lore. Our bad guy falls somewhere between the weak antagonists of early MCU films and the great ones of recent vintage. The performance of the character is good. That almost can’t be helped because we have a talented performer in the role. As I’ve just mentioned, their battles with Spidey work, too. The problem is the character comes off as a combination of two lesser villains, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) and Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) from Iron Man 2. The result is passable, but not thrilling. The execution of this person’s abilities is problematic from a logic standpoint. It’s great visually and is entertaining but falls apart if you give it a moment’s thought.

The other lapse in logic is how the idea of the Blip is handled. It’s a major event in the MCU but only gets mentioned in the beginning, brushed aside, and ignored. If there was ever a movie to examine the collective psyche after such an event, it’s one about a bunch of teenagers. We skate around that completely. It’s also murky who blipped and who didn’t. I can only assume that Peter’s entire class, and possibly his entire school blipped. Again, it’s never addressed. We really get very little interaction between students at all, aside from the few moments Peter can get near MJ and the out-of-nowhere romance between Ned (Batalon) and Betty (Rice). The plot works to keep the former pair apart as long as possible, makes the latter irresistible but in a way that would be stomach churning for their friends. Other than that, it’s all about another guy trying to woo MJ and a few comic relief moments with Flash (Revolori), the teachers along on the trip, or the mystery of whether Aunt May has something going on with Happy (Favreau). It keeps the movie bouncing along; I just can’t help but wish there was more substance because the opportunity for deeper exploration is there.

Sans the reflection that the very best Marvel movies gives us, this one is mostly focused on giving us a fun ride. It sticks to the tried and true elements of Spider-Man’s story to do this. To be fair, it’s not totally void of depth. It does kick around the question of how much responsibility is too much for a kid and who gets to decide when it is thrust upon them. Specifically, we get plenty of focus on whether Spider-Man is ready to be the next leader of the Avengers. Analyzing this issue never bogs down the film, allowing it to remain a free-flowing adventure. That’s a good thing. Any questions we have about Far From Home are tempered by the fact that it does the one thing we really go to a Spider-Man movie for. It lets us have a blast.


  1. I already have a review prepped in case I see the film later this month as I'm going to take a hiatus for now. Still, I really want to see this.

    1. It's definitely worth seeing. Enjoy your time away!

  2. I think it's not good like before, i hope for next part it's get in better.
    Thank you

  3. Marvel do really seem to struggle with their baddies, don't they? Mind you, like you say, we know what to expect from a Spidey movie and it was a lot of fun!

    1. DC ain't doin' so well with villains either 🤷🏻‍♂️

    2. DC is doing even worse. Sigh.

  4. I like Holland in the role and I liked the visuals too but this movie was just so clumsy and overstuffed. It was even more boring for me than Homecoming which was even worse that it was following stellar Endgame

    1. It definitely has its issues. No arguing that.