Directed by: Jon Watts
Premise: Following the events of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) travels to Europe on a high school class trip. He’s enlisted to help Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) defend the earth against a new threat.
What Works: 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming was distinguished by its playful tone. That picture’s namesake was a teenager and the movie had an adolescent energy and a bouncy tone that set Homecoming apart from other superhero films. Far From Home retains the light touch of its predecessor. Like the 2017 movie, many of the best moments of Far From Home aren’t really the superheroics but rather the humor and the slices of teenage life. Peter Parker has a crush on MJ and he plans to make his move while on their trip. Actors Tom Holland and Zendaya have an appealingly awkward romantic chemistry. Meanwhile, Peter’s best friend has a trip romance with another student and actors Jacob Batalon and Angourie Rice throw themselves into the teenage puppy love. When Far From Home is in high school mode it recalls the pictures of John Hughes and his authentic feel for adolescence. On the action and adventure side of things, Far From Home has a clever twist involving Mysterio. Comic book aficionados who know who Mysterio is might not be surprised by the reversal but it’s well executed. The action scenes deliver the superhero thrills, in particular a set piece in which Mysterio bends Spider-Man’s reality. It’s an impressively crafted sequence that is surrealistic and unlike anything we’ve seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
What Doesn’t: There have been a lot of Spider-Man films, a few of them good and some that were terrible. Far From Home is competently made and satisfyingly fun but there’s very little distinguishing it. This film doesn’t have the style of Into the Spider-Verse or the depth of storytelling of 2004’s Spider-Man 2 nor is it as funny or as character-driven as Homecoming. The 2017 movie was about a teenager drafted into the service of grown-up super-heroism and how Peter Parker reconciles his abilities with his place in the world. In Far From Home he is still a teenager and still mulling the same themes; Peter grows very little as a character and subplots like his romance with MJ are devoid of stakes. The film also falls short in dealing with the events of Avengers: Endgame. Peter grieves the loss of his mentor but that grief doesn’t lead anywhere. On the whole, Far From Home provides very little that we haven’t seen before. In a marketplace that is saturated with superhero movies, this film comes across as an average affair. It does everything well enough but it is unlikely that anyone will remember this movie in six months.
Bottom Line: Spider-Man: Far From Home is a mostly average superhero adventure. It is fun and full of likable characters and well executed set pieces but it never quite escapes the feeling that we’ve seen this all before.
Episode: #758 (July 21, 2019)