Over the past several years, Tom Holland has been given the chance to do something truly special. With Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame, he has taken the character of Peter Parker, one previously adapted in two separate live-action film series since the turn of the century, and he has made his take an instant favorite with somehow seeming both fresh and familiar to comics fans. With each review linked above, you can quickly tell how much I am a fan, so I eagerly awaited Spider-Man: Far From Home. Anything’s possible with a sequel, regarding quality, so how did this one fare?
Still set in high school (as it should be), we follow Peter (Holland, further proving he is perfect for the role) and his classmates to Europe for a class trip. While you can take the wallcrawler out of his neighborhood, you can’t take away that responsibility. While there, Peter finds himself wrapped up by orders of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, who better not be considering time away from the Marvel Cinematic Universe after great turns in this and Captain Marvel) in an international conflict involving massive elemental creatures that seemingly defies reality. He is joined by a new emerging hero, Quentin Beck, also known as Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal, completely owning the role on all fronts), offering friendship and understanding to Peter when he needs it most. Juggling all of this with keeping his cover secure and spending time with his crush, MJ (Zendaya, who I am warming up to in a revisionist take) is exactly the type of difficulty we expect in the life of a friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man.
Most every film of Spider-Man has been set surrounding a 10001 zip code. Transplanting this experience to Europe, amongst other places, immediately makes this film distinct from its predecessors in a good way. While being away from home factors into the story (from that title, who knew, amirite?), the locale gives the film a different visual flavor and pulls Spidey out of the typical concrete jungle setting. The humor and high-school feel continue from Homecoming, and it continues making these films a welcome unique pocket of the MCU. Yes, there are big explosions and bombast, but at their core, these MCU Spider-Man films are pretty small-scale in their themes, and less is more.
The film is filled with visual and narrative surprises, so leaving those exactly that is imperative. It makes my biggest impressions and takeaways, however, impossible to talk about. Just know that you’re in for a treat! I never thought Mysterio could be done justice on film, and I was delightfully proven wrong. Gyllenhaal, while obviously having a great time in the role, is doing exactly what he does well and fulfills every facet of the character. His addition here brings with it some of the very best and most inventive effects sequences yet in the MCU, and I smile as I type this in recounting them. While Avengers: Endgame was thought to wrap up Phase Three of the MCU, Far From Home sweeps up the room and sets things in place for all that is to follow. It does this for Spider-Man’s story, as well as in other unexpected ways for other heroes.
Director Jon Watts has developed a way of furthering that John Hughes-feel he established in Homecoming, and here, it still doesn’t feel off-base. Quirky licensed music, small conversations, and an energetic and consistent humor all carry over and flourish here. It all just balances with the plot and effects that go to some truly incredible places. He is helped by his young cast including one of my favorites, Ned (Jacob Batalon), that makes it all feel right. I wish we could tell a multitude of stories while each looks so young, but I fear we will only get one more film with that genuine feel, and that may be pushing it before they all look college ready.
Tom Holland anchors it all, and while we’ve had so many emotions that came from the Avengers films, it’s great to see the focus on his story. He is grappling with the losses of Avengers: Endgame, and really, so are we as fans. His grief makes him want to shirk responsibility, and just focus on his own happiness. It’s an understandable reaction, and that arc gives Holland a great chance to further the character. Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), Nick Fury, and Quentin Beck all are leaders in his life with particular directions he is needing, and by film’s end, he has grown, as has the possibilities of the character going forward.
Content-wise, the film was about what one would expect, following Homecoming. There is some sexual content in dialogue and some mild cursing, but this go-around, my sensibilities weren’t as offended as I was by a particular line in that film. There are action sequences and violence, but nothing that was particularly troubling. Some sequences may be disorienting to audience members, especially in 3D. The themes of relationships, trust, responsibility, and perception all make for interesting fodder for conversations following the film.
All-in-all, I really enjoyed this film. I usually have much more I can share, but I sincerely don’t want to spoil the surprises. There are two incredible after-credit sequences for fans that you won’t want to miss, so stick around. Peter Parker’s story continues in this exciting, fun, and visually intriguing entry that is just as good as what preceded it, and you shouldn’t miss out on all it offers. By film’s end, the possibilities for Spidey and the MCU are limitless!
Also, don’t forget to download those free movie costumes for Marvel’s Spider-Man on PS4!