If you know me well, you know I can be quite hypercritical of superhero films, especially Spider-Man. I thought the Marc Webb films were good, but not perfect, and I was never a fan of the Sam Raimi trilogy. However, to my surprise, I really enjoyed Homecoming. Eager to see how these beloved characters learned to adapt in a post-Endgame world, I was sure Far From Home would possibly become my favorite Spider-Man movie yet. Sadly, that wasn’t what happened. Believe me when I say that it was a complete blow to the chest when I realized this just wasn’t for me.
It felt like the first half of the film was written and directed by completely different people than the second half. Maybe it’s just me, but the humor felt way off, especially in the first half. The quips didn’t really land in the same way they did in Homecoming. Jokes were predictable, on the nose, and flat. It lacks the same charm of Homecoming that had me so excited for Far From Home in the first place.
Mysterio’s monologue was some painfully cringey exposition. Combine that with more corny jokes that held on to the punchline for way too long, and I’m expecting Ashton Kutcher with a camera crew to be waiting when the lights go up.
There are many strange details that don’t necessarily add up in terms of the technology used by the villian. It’s unclear where some of it comes from and how far it can actually go based on what we learn about it. If you’ve seen it you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t yet, you’ll know when the time comes. For what seemed to be a recurring theme for this film, this area is not explored to its full potential, so it comes off completely nonsensical when thinking about the basic laws of physics.
Spider-Man has the most saturation of any superhero, and it’s apparent that Jon Watts and this team truly care for the character and all previous iterations. From all the callbacks and references, it’s clear they respect where the character has been. The problem with FFH is that there’s no story to serve the characters we love so much. It lacks depth in the majority of Peter’s scenes, and doesn’t really tell us any more about what goes on in the mind of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker.
Peter Parker goes to Europe on a science trip with his classmates, chaperoned by two obnoxiously clueless teachers. Peter needs a vacation from being Spider-Man, but Aunt May packs his suit just in case. And it’s a good thing she did, because at the first stop on their trip, the class is caught in the midst of an attack by an “elemental” water monster. Before Peter can even say “underoos,” a hero named Quentin Beck comes in to save the day. Peter finds out that Beck is from an alternate universe and is working with Nick Fury to defeat the elementals and they need Spider-Man’s help. Peter reluctantly agrees and builds a relationship with Beck along the way that seems to fill Peter’s father figure void that was left by Tony Stark’s passing. But something seems fishy because Beck is now calling himself Mysterio and sporting some heavy Princess Morbucks from The Powerpuff Girls vibes. Learning his new friend is not who he seems, Peter has to save the day. Only from there does Far From Home start to feel like a Spider-Man movie. And this is a good hour into the 129 minute runtime.
The whole “blip” exposition during the first act was a whirlwind of emotion. There's all of a sudden a disconnect to the trauma as if we're supposed to forget there was any at all. However, it's a lot of context pertaining to the world that has to be explained in a short amount of time so I'm gonna give it to them. They chose the route of strict humor for the sake of the film and I can respect that. The film is about moving forward and not dwelling on the past. I just wish it was handled a little more genuinely. The lightheartedness that is to be expected from a Spider-Man film seemed a bit too playful for me to serve as an epilogue to the much darker toned Endgame Saga. It doesn't need to take itself that seriously, but it seems like a completely different universe. It doesn’t feel like a world where the Avengers would exist at all except for the ten times Mysterio mentions them. The opening scene was too much for me. It was un-funny and an unnecessarily rough way to start this bare bones story.
Far From Home relies on it’s beats to get us to each destination on the map. The sub-plot of Peter and MJ’s budding romance is really well done and probably where the film is at its best. But the struggle of trying to balance being Spider-Man and Peter Parker is not as fleshed out as it should have been. I was waiting for Peter to hit rock bottom like in Homecoming; trapped under an entire building worth of rubble, crying for help, and overcoming his internal obstacles. Obviously not in the same way, but that never really happens at all in Far From Home. It isn’t until the end of the film, in the plane with Happy, that Peter mentions his senses/“Peter tingle” isn’t working. This could have been the story itself; something for Peter to overcome throughout the film. It’s brought up so quickly that if you blink, you’ll literally miss it. And even then, this was honestly the most genuine and important scene of the whole film. Every Happy scene brought organic comedic relief that actually landed for me. Peter and Happy’s well developed chemistry is my favorite of all his relationships in this film.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Simply put, the cast was great. I won’t get into everyone because there are just so many people and so little time. Plus, I think we all know Corbie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jon Favareau slay every single time.
I love Tom Holland so much. His Peter/Spider-Man dynamic is truly the most intertwined of the portrayals before him. He handles each with care, even when he is torn between. Spider-Man is a part of Peter now and it’s about time he came around to realizing it.
Zendaya as MJ has my whole heart. She has always been such a strong performer, even from her early days on Disney Channel. The wit and charm she brings to MJ fits the comedic atmosphere these films strive for. It’s warming to see MJ and Peter’s relationship evolve on this trip. They’re both really awkward but in a very believable and relatable way.
Jake Gyllenhaal is BAE. I didn't mind him as Quentin/Mysterio, even though he had some CORNY moments. It’s refreshing to see him in a role like this. I also just discovered that he almost replaced Toby Maguire in Spider-Man 2 way back when. Could. You. Imagine.
The thing about this cast is that everyone fits the tone these new Spider-Man films embody. From Jacob Batalon as the brilliant and lovable Ned to sweet but sassy Aunt May played by Marisa Tomei. Everyone is always in tune and their personalities complement each other in a refreshing way that we haven’t really seen in the previous Spider-Man adaptations.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score by Michael Giacchio was pretty fun. It had a lot of whimsical epicness that helped it really feel like a Spider-Man film when I really needed it to, especially in the action scenes. It kept me intrigued and flowed really well throughout.
The soundtrack has some really great choices, with a lot of well known songs in cinema, some that hold sentimental meaning to the characters and their situations. I also appreciated some obscure European tracks that match each destination’s setting.
The sound design was honestly some of the best parts of the more intense action sequences. I give the sound and editing departments a ton of credit because at times that felt like pure visual chaos, the sound really tied certain scenes together.
The effects were STELLAR. I’m really not too picky about SFX except for a certain recent film that failed to create a developed look for a particular angry green character. However, I was just watching The Amazing Spider-Man not too long ago, and oh boy. That CG does not age well seven years later. To see how far the visuals have been mastered since then is relieving to say the least. They really went all out, and while the film as a whole didn’t totally win me over, this was the most impressive piece.
Another really great part is the end credits sequence. The song (I won’t say what song to preserve the dramatic effect) with the graphics were creative and enjoyable to watch. They were playful and matched the end of the film perfectly. I have a serious thing for when credits, especially end credits in films, are super tacky or just boring. This brought a lot of life to the screen even after the film was over. I know this is a thing Marvel does but this might be my fav. I noticed the people in my theater really enjoying them while we waited for the post credit scenes.
So far, it’s been winning the hearts of so many people and I’m really glad. I’m sad it didn’t steal mine, but perhaps on a second viewing it will grow on me. For now though, I will stand by what I think from this initial watch. I think it’s really important to talk about what didn’t work, what didn’t make sense, and why I was left unsatisfied. Far From Home acts like a taste of what’s to come rather than a full fledged sequel. Even if it’s a nice taste, it’s lacking enough substance to hold me over. The mid-credit scene cliffhanger has me so excited for what’s to come, and it’s apparent that this new Spider-Man is just getting started.