Movie Review - 'Spider-Man: Far From Home'
"Exactly what you'd expect from the follow-up to both 'Homecoming' and 'Endgame': a funny, intense, heart-breaking, and -warming ride with one of pop culture's most beloved characters."
Obviously, any sequel or continuation of any story, especially in the movie business, is inherently pressured to live up to the original's reputation. But Marvel somehow has a very potent immunity to this "Sequel Curse," as I like to call it; it's honestly more difficult for me to review a Marvel film out of any others, because I always feel like I'm repeating the obvious; that the movie is fantastic, that it's fun, it's funny, action-packed, filled to the brim with Easter Eggs that only the hardcore comic nerds understand, everything of that ilk.
But then there's Spider-Man: Far From Home, the movie that was lucky (or unlucky, depending on who you talk to) enough to succeed Avengers: Endgame; knowing that it would come nipping at the heels of that cinematic behemoth, I'd be extremely surprised if Jon Watts (director) didn't feel the pressure while working on this film.
So, with that said, it really shows both his and his team's skill in filmmaking when I walked out of Far From Home feeling the same as I had at the end of Endgame: emotionally drained, exhausted from the thrills, and filled with the desire to immediately watch the whole thing again.
As the trailers and synopses have shown, the film follows Peter Parker (played beautifully, as always, by Tom Holland) and his high school classmates in Endgame's aftermath; after the final battle against Thanos that ended with the heart-crushing death of his mentor Tony Stark (sorry, spoilers for anyone who still hasn't seen it), Peter, quite understandably, wants a break from superhero business of any kind; all he wants to do at the moment is enjoy his summer field trip, hang out with friends, confess to his crush MJ from the first film (played again by Zendaya)—in other words, be a normal kid. But of course, because the cinematic universe can't let that happen, Peter quickly gets roped into yet another plan to save the world by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who wants him to work alongside the latest MCU newcomer, Quentin Beck AKA Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) to defeat the otherworldly monsters known as the Elementals.
But that summary doesn't do nearly enough justice to the plot; in true MCU fashion, the story goes above and beyond just what the trailers show, and the numerous twists and turns are tightly woven together so that it stayed thoroughly engaging the whole way through. I'm honestly happy to say that quite a few moments caught me completely off guard, even with those that I had inklings of suspicion about earlier; in these days of "Twist Saturation" in fiction, this is an incredible accomplishment in and of itself.
Also in standard MCU fashion, the thrills are woven between nuggets of humor that, more often that not, made my entire theater bust a gut. Much of the comedy revolves around high school shenanigans, much like Spider-Man: Homecoming, although here the majority comes from the nature of summer field trips, as well as Peter's seemingly constant struggle with the women he loves; also just like Homecoming, the jokes aren't awkward or cringeworthy in the ways you might expect from a film about high-schoolers—instead, they're actually funny, even for audiences who despised their own high school days. Whenever a movie takes that sort of "cringe comedy" as it were, and manages to get genuine laughter out of me with it, that's already an automatic win for me.
But those elements would be nothing without the film's amazing characters, and the actors that portray them. Tom Holland has quickly become one of my favorite actors of all time for good reason, and his performance in this film only strengthens his position on that list; Peter is just as adorable, emotional, and real as he's ever been, and his character progression throughout the movie feels natural and mature, even while he still displays the naivety you'd expect from a teenager. I've always admired the MCU's ability to create characters so vivid that they feel like real people, and Peter is a perfect example of this.
(Honestly, by this point I'm sure that anyone who says Tom Holland isn't their favorite Spider-Man is either in denial or lying to themselves).
The supporting cast is just as great as you'd expect, too; Ned (Jacob Batalon) is the adorkable best-friend-turned-wingman that Peter needs, MJ is as darkly hilarious and sympathetic as she was the last time we saw her, resident bully Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) and his infatuation with Spider-Man is dramatic irony at its finest, Peter's two teachers chaperoning the trip (played by Martin Starr and J.B. Smoove) are hilariously incompetent, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is taking care of Peter as best as he can, and Nick Fury is as Nick Fury as he can get. Overall, you shouldn't have any worries about the returning cast at all going into this film; just like with every Marvel film, it feels just like meeting up with old friends yet again.
But for me, I wasn't expecting to enjoy Mysterio as a character as much as I did (mostly because I've never engaged that much with the Spider-Man lore). It really shows through his performance how much Jake Gyllenhaal put everything he had into the character, as he was easily one of the most memorable parts of the whole movie. While the direction the character takes will definitely be controversial for some fans, he is still endlessly entertaining, and will definitely be one of the elements you'll remember most about the film.
In other words, Spider-Man: Far From Home is yet another masterful win for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its story, humor, and characters are as compelling and engaging as you'd expect to create a thrill ride that's enjoyable for both casual viewers and hardcore fans. Even when coming off of the heels of the biggest movie in the franchise, this film still shines on its own, and that's one of the most impressive things any sequel—especially those so highly anticipated—can do.
And before anyone asks: yes, there are post-credit scenes; yes, they are awesome; and yes, they are just as shocking as people tell you. Yes you have to stay for them—they're that important.