Peter Parker swings into the Summer break with a European tour filled with web-slinging, an amazing villain, and an answer to the question of who will fill the gigantic shoes left behind by the late Tony Stark.
Some of our most beloved superheroes are synonymous with the very city they protect. Batman and Gotham City. Superman and Metropolis. This geographical connection gives the hero a sense of belonging, and it raises the stakes when their city is in peril. And while the Marvel Universe tends to use New York as the hub for many of its big names, it’s Spider-Man that gets the honour of calling it “home”. So what happens when you take our favourite web-head out of the city that never sleeps and onto a scenic European tour? The result is a fun, comedy-ridden ride with a side of Summer love and your usual world-threatening villain. Serving as a lighthearted epilogue to the enormous epic Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far From Home caps off Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe elegantly while managing to somehow leave us frothing at the mouth for what could possibly come next in this incredible universe.
Going into this film, I was just the tiniest bit worried that this film would be underwhelming after the experience that was Endgame with it’s massive setpieces and emotional payoff. How can a Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man compare to the Avengers? Could this film address the consequences set in place by Thanos? Fortunately, that was the exact message this film was aiming for. The story starts off a full school year after Thanos was defeated, and the hole left by our fallen heroes like Steve Rogers and Tony Stark immediately hits in the form of another hilarious showcase of high school video editing. Half of the students aged five years, though fortunately for Peter, all of his friends got “Blipped” with him. The other half was forced to repeat the year. I wasn’t expecting The Blip to be played off as jokes, but they integrated well with the natural, comedic nature that is a Spider-Man story. Peter Parker, played by the charming, young Tom Holland, is frantically putting together a plan to confess to his crush, MJ, played by Zendaya. His European science trip was going to be his backdrop to this plan, but as usual, his luck turns sour at nearly every turn. The chemistry these two share is captivating. They each portray the awkward phase of every teenager’s life where romance is the centerpiece to their existence, and the trials that come with it. Bumbling your words, crafting that perfect sentence to confess your feelings, and the depressing failure that comes when your plan doesn’t go exactly the way you wanted. The rest of the cast gets more time to shine in this Spider-Man sequel, with Betty Brandt and Flash Thompson become more like actual characters in their own right. The high school drama is relatable, and that’s enough to carry this film through it’s first hour before events really set off.
Peter’s trip is quickly hijacked by a seemingly world-ending threat. When giant monsters called The Elementals appear to be too much for him to handle, in comes Mysterio, in all his cape and fishbowl glory, to save the day and be the hero. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the cool, calm, and collected Quentin Beck. A magnetizing charm radiates off this man in a way that just makes you want to be his friend. Nick Fury recruits, or kidnap, depending on your point of view, Peter on this mission as Peter has unwillingly inherited Tony Stark’s legacy. Who is the next Iron Man? That is a question that is asked to Peter, and perhaps is an extension of the fans’ as well. Iron Man has been the face of the MCU for over 10 years. With his noble sacrifice, can Spider-Man carry the torch? Peter himself feels the pressure to step up, and is unsure if he can sacrifice his life as a teenage boy to become the next Iron Man. It’s a question that needs an answer, and by the end, I say we have a satisfying one. As he and Mysterio join forces to fight The Elementals, he starts to wonder if this flying, green man can take the mantle. Anyone that is familiar with Spider-Man lore knows Mysterio is a classic villain in his rogues gallery. Without spoiling anything, I will say that part of comic history is paid great respect and turns this film on its heels towards a direction that makes it one of my favourite MCU films. The film is packed with hard-hitting jokes. There are a couple of standout sequences that may go down as the best in the franchise. Plenty of heart and uninterrupted moments of self-doubt which is a core feature of Spider-Man. Tom Holland nails the awkward persona of Peter Parker and the emotional weight due to the great responsibility he bears on his shoulders. By the end, he has matured into the web-slinger we all know and love from the comics and cartoons. He’s come a long way from that kid in Queens that was afraid of climbing the Washington Monument. I can’t wait for the inevitable third film where hopefully he’ll be swinging around Manhattan in his full red-and-black glory. And be sure to stay for the two post-credit scenes which had my jaw on the floor from how absolutely mindblowing they were.
The Illusion of Film
Mysterio is a master of making you see what’s not really there, so there’s this promise that we’re going to see some spectacular visuals. There are sequences that rival the absurdity that was in Doctor Strange in terms of reality-bending imagery. Jon Watts, the director of this film and Spider-Man: Homecoming, has addressed the lacklustre action scenes of the first film in a big way. Spider-Man is nimble, acrobatic, and has really come into his own as a solo crimefighter that doesn’t need all the tech and fancy gadgets. Peter Parker is a genius that uses his intelligence to aid him in the web-slinging. Thanks to that, we’re treated to a couple very creative applications that leave me wanting more of what he can offer in the years to come. Moments where the CGI is present where I wished it weren’t were when they used it as a Spider-Man stand-in. Marvel seems to have an issue with using a practical suit for full-body shots. When the pace slowed down, it became painfully obvious that it’s not Tom Holland standing there in a suit, but a full CG replica. The lack of crinkles in the fabric and the almost too-smooth movements make it dip into uncanny valley. How The Elementals are portrayed look serviceable for now, but may age poorly when this film is looked back on. Thankfully, The Elementals themselves don’t take up too much screen time. The European scenery is beautiful and well-displayed. It’s always appreciated when films shoot on location. Capturing the canals of Venice for example added to the authenticity and helped to make this film feel like a real trip through a foreign land.
A small worry I had was whether if they were going to keep the Spider-Man theme they had in Homecoming. With Michael Giacchino returning to score, that worry was alleviated in the first few minutes of the film. Multiple renditions of the tune is played. Some of my favourite versions are on that uses a shredding guitar riff, and one that is a triumphant, orchestral arrangement. Nothing can replace the classic Spidey theme embedded into our childhoods, but this one certainly makes a hard-fought attempt at cementing itself as synonymous with Spider-Man. Overall, the music is very well utilized, and the soundtrack is nothing to scoff at either. In fact, there’s one poignant song that brings the entirety of the Infinity Saga full circle.
Whereas Avengers: Endgame is the hearty, filling main course, Spider-Man: Far From Home is that sweet, rich dessert that leaves us with a wide grin. It perfectly pays homage to the universe we have all fell in love with while also standing on its own as perhaps the best live action Spider-Man film to date. It has the adolescent charm, perfectly paced humour, and heart that is almost required of one. Although it takes an hour to really ramp up, if you’re sold on a classic Spidey vibe, you’re in for a great two hours. And seriously, stay after the credits.