Movie Review: “Spider-Man: Far From Home”
Spider-Man: Far from Home
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is still struggling after having suffered a loss during a battle with Thanos and his forces. However, with the snap having been reversed, Peter must try to go back to his normal life. That being said, Peter's normal life is far from normal. He has to try to go back to balancing his life as a high school student with his life as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Unfortunately, with everything that he has been through, he is unsure if he wants to live the life of a full-time superhero.
Instead, Peter is focused on telling MJ (Zendaya) that he likes her, but he wants to do it in the perfect way. Despite Peter's intentions, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) needs a hero. During a school trip to Europe, a few dangerous elemental monsters begin wreaking havoc, coincidentally, in Europe. With these monsters risking the lives of so many civilians, and with the absence of Tony Stark, Nick Fury is more desperate than ever for Peter's help. Fortunately, a new and mysterious hero (Jake Gyllenhaal) has emerged. He brings valuable intelligence about the monsters and where they came from, is gifted with abilities of his own, and is absolutely devoted to taking down these monsters.
The Pros & Cons
Spider-Man & Peter Parker (+8pts)
High School (-3pts)
Mysterio & The Visual Effects (+8pts)
Happy Hogan & The Action (+5pts)
Nick Fury (-2pts)
Pro: Spider-Man & Peter Parker (+8pts)
I really enjoyed what the filmmakers did with this character in this movie. Peter Parker went through a lot during the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Understandably, it would be difficult to go back to a normal life after such events. However, I enjoyed seeing how the tragedy affected Peter and I enjoyed seeing his struggle with whether or not he wants to live the life of a superhero with the scale and fame of being an Avenger.
Previous Spider-Man movies have tackled the idea of what it means to be "Spider-Man" and what it means to be a hero, but this movie had the unique benefit of taking place after two massive movies. As a result, Peter's motivation toward being Spider-Man is more challenged than it has ever been. Peter dealt with a lot of varying emotions in this movie. This story was a compelling, and complex, character story for Peter Parker, and I thought Tom Holland did a really good job of balancing all this in an a way that was both entertaining and dramatic.
Con: High School (-3pts)
This was an area that I felt like the filmmakers struggled with. After the scale of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, it must have been difficult to write a smaller-scale story about Peter Parker in high school that still felt important. I thought the filmmakers had a decent enough idea with, which was to get Peter back in high school only to find out that Thanos' snap essentially opened a door for incredibly powerful elemental monsters to come to earth. On paper, I feel like this should have worked better than it did.
I was completely invested in the elemental monsters, Peter Parker, and Mysterio, but I had a tough time caring about the high school characters. The exception to this rule was MJ (although I will get into more detail regarding this particular character later). The rest of the characters did not seem to offer anything to Peter’s story, and felt like a distraction from the main plot of the movie. Fortunately, these other characters were, for the most part, effective as comedic relief characters, so their presence did not hurt the movie much (in my opinion). They just did not feel very relevant to Peter’s story.
Pro: Mysterio & The Visual Effects (+8pts)
I am going to keep this brief, as I do not want to spoil anything about the character. I can say that I really enjoyed both this character’s story and the performance from Jake Gyllenhaal. Mysterio had the kind of story that kept me engaged when the character was on screen, and it kept me curiously waiting to see how the story would go. Jake Gyllenhaal also did a great job at playing this complicated character in a way that gave the character a captivating screen presence that always left me wanting more.
The character is also involved in a lot of great visual effects, but there was one visual effect sequence, in particular, that was really awesome. If you know anything about this character, then you know to expect some crazy visual effect sequences, and this movie delivered. Mysterio was a unique, interesting, and well-written character that had the benefit of being played by a talented actor. Together, this combination made Mysterio a memorable and captivating character.
Con: MJ (-2pts)
I think Tom Holland and Zendaya had good chemistry together, and I like Zendaya’s version of MJ, but I thought this character could have been done better in this movie. I was fine with the awkward teen romance, and I am fine with the attitude that the character has. I just did not think these two mixed together very well. It also felt like the filmmakers forced this romance into the movie.
I did not buy, based on the way the last movie ended, that the romance between the two would progress so quickly. I mean, the entire last movie was about Peter obsessing over another girl. It just felt like the romance was squeezed into the story for the sake of having an MJ romance in the movie, even though it did not make sense for either character at this point. Again, I like Zendaya’s version of the character, and think Zendaya had good chemistry with Tom Holland. I just thought this romance storyline felt unnecessarily rushed.
Pro: Happy Hogan & The Action (+5pts)
Okay, so these two things are completely unrelated, but I enjoyed both of them enough to make them worth mentioning. Happy Hogan has been a consistently effective comedic character throughout a number of Marvel movies. Sure, the character has had some dramatic moments in previous movies as well, but I really enjoyed what the filmmakers did with Happy Hogan here. He served as Peter’s connection to Tony Stark, but also served as a parental figure. He gave this movie plenty of comedy, and a lot of heart. I do not want to say much more, because I do not want to spoil anything, but know that I liked what the filmmakers did with the character.
The action in Spider-Man: Far from Home was also pretty great. I do not recall any specific, jaw-dropping moments. That being said, the action was pretty darn entertaining, had great visual effects to support it, and Spider-Man definitely got to do some cool things. There was not any "mind-blowing" action sequences, although the scenes where Spider-Man faced off against the primary antagonist was pretty awesome, but the action was consistently entertaining and helped glue me to the edge of my seat.
Con: Nick Fury (-2pts)
This is another character that I cannot say too much about without spoiling the movie. Basically, I thought the way Nick Fury was portrayed in this movie felt wildly inconsistent with the character that we have seen over the course of so many movies. Nick Fury, starting with Iron Man 2, has been the wisest, most informed guy in the room. He has also been fairly effective at motivating heroes into action.
In Spider-Man: Far from Home, that was not the case and it felt pretty inconsistent for the character. He was overly harsh with Peter, did not seem to have any idea what was going on, and seemed oddly desperate for Peter's help (when I did not buy why he would have been so desperate). It just did not fit with the Nick Fury that we have seen in all of the previous movies. Did the filmmakers have an explanation for this? Yes, but the payoff was not significant enough to justify taking the character in this direction. It basically felt like the writers wrote a unnecessarily inconsistent version of this character, then came up with an excuse to throw into the movie at the end (in an attempt to justify the inconsistency). It was not a huge deal, but the character did not work for me in this movie.
Grade: B+ (89pts)
Set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker is in a very different place, mentally, than he was in Spider-Man: Homecoming. He is struggling after a devastating loss, and is struggling with whether or not he wants to live the life of a superhero (with all of the fame and responsibility that comes with being an Avenger). I really enjoyed what the filmmakers did with this character, but I also enjoyed what they did with Mysterio. Without giving anything away, Mysterio has an interesting story, and Jake Gyllenhaal gave the character a captivating screen presence.
In addition to the two primary characters of this story being so great, the movie had plenty of great action, excellent visual effects, and I enjoyed (as always) Happy Hogan’s presence in this movie. I did, however, have a few minor issues, although they were so minor that it may be unfair to refer to them as “issues”. Basically, there were just a bunch of side characters that I thought could have used some more work, as I did not think they fit into this story naturally. Despite these very minor issues, I had a really good time in this movie. It had great main characters, great stories, awesome action, great visual effects, and plenty of humor. It was, simply put, a great time at the movies.