“SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME” is quickly approaching its theatrical release to follow-up on the massive success of “Endgame.” Jon Watts who also directed “Homecoming” is back behind the camera and the focal cast are all reprising their roles, led by Tom Holland. This story finds Peter Parker in a lost state after the events of “Endgame.” He is still trying to find his place as a hero, he is also feeling the effects of some justifiable mental fatigue. He goes on a class trip for the summer hoping to get closer to MJ and forget the superhero world for a bit. But a new threat has emerged, and he won’t be able to put the suit in storage for the summer just yet.
This will be a spoiler-free review and given I’m in the minority of those that feel this film was not overly impressive. It will certainly be vague since filling it with inflated hyperbole isn’t really an option. I will not say I disliked the movie because I had a great time with a lot of what it delivered. But it also went some directions story-wise that I wouldn’t say I disliked but will say just didn’t grab me like I hoped. I loved “Homecoming” and think Tom Holland is the best we have seen of the character in live-action. He was great in this one again but the conveniences in the progression of things hindered me from building an emotional connection despite certainly wanting to.
I enjoyed how the film opened, how it explored the post “Endgame” world and some of the ramifications of it. I also found the foundation of Parker suffering from his own form of PTSD mixed with grief to be very compelling. Then, things take a turn and to me it showed that an exploration of the character would not be the focus as much as using these weaknesses, very conveniently, as plot-devices would be. The tone also shifted, and it honestly lost the intrigue factor. I also felt Peter’s intelligence, under the veil of vulnerability was manipulated for plot progression and while it didn’t ruin the film, it just created one that lost my curiosity at a certain point.
The visual appeal of the film was fantastic as you would expect. The action set-pieces despite giving us a lot of what we have seen already were a good time and awesome to see on the big-screen. It was able to capture Spider-Man in his action-packed glory and I think the sequences overall were more visually pleasing than what he saw in “Homecoming” even if they did feel like empty calories. I thought the design and appearance of Mysterio was awesome as well, and it was fun to see him in action for the first time in the theater and in live-action form.
The performances were fantastic across the board in particular those of Tom Holland and Zendaya. I loved their chemistry together and I wanted to see them move towards love. It was innocent, it was cute, and I think it was their performances that were able to capture the sincerity of it all. Gyllenhaal was solid in his performance as he always is. He brought charm and plenty of subtle intensity to the character. He fit the role very well at times and he also conjured glimpses of mentor-ship with Holland in a couple scenes that I thoroughly enjoyed watching. I also felt everyone did a solid job with the comedic material. The cast nailed a ton of lines with a grounded sense-of-humor that results in some genuine laughs.
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Story elements are where most of my issues with this film are found and without risking spoilers, I will not dive more into detail than I already have. It wasn’t a horrible story by any means, and it was one that was able to carry the film. I do think 10-15 minutes could have been shaved off of it to keep the pace moving but the lulls in the second-act were not a major drawback. Primarily because for me the non-hero moments turned out to be the most interesting parts of the film in some instances. And with a group of great performances I didn’t mind the length because I did enjoy the substance it provided.
It was a fun comic-book movie with some excellently crafted action. But I do feel it was limited creatively by having the Sony banner on it and not solely the Marvel Studio/Disney logo. The story felt more like filler than it felt like one that was moving the overall connected universe forward. It was an entertaining watch on the big-screen with the visual feasts and the sound all around you. I do recommend seeing it in theaters to gauge your own opinion. Because like I said, I think many liked this movie and were able to connect with it more than I was this time around.