Main cast: Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Jake Gyllenhall (Quentin Beck/Mysterio), Jacob Batalon (Ned), Zendaya (Michelle “MJ” Jones), Tony Revolori (Eugene “Flash” Thompson), JB Smoove (Julius Dell), Martin Starr (Roger Harrington), Jon Favreau (Harold “Happy” Hogan), Marisa Tomei (Aunt May), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill), and Samuel L Jackson (Nick Fury)
Director: Jon Watts
Set a few months after Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far from Home drives home one thing: Peter Parker is the new Tony Stark. Here, there are scenes of him that are designed to echo those of Tony Stark, so that the audience will go, “Oh! He’s the new you-know-who!” Happy is also here, to be Peter’s helpful concierge, valet, and in-between with Nick Fury, who is determined to use tough love to make Peter accept that Spider-Man is more than “just your neighborhood” vigilante.
Peter doesn’t want to move from the small league to Avenger league. Still shaken by Tony’s death, he is feeling a case of doubts about his place in the superhero league. He also discovers that he has a crush on MJ. When this movie opens, his class is going to Europe for a science field trip, and he has plans to get closer to her, buy her a gift, and kiss her when they are on the Eiffel Tower. It will be a straight R&R trip, and he’d even leave his suit behind. Two weeks to be just Peter Parker – that’s all he wants.
Unfortunately for him, things don’t go as planned. Zendaya seems to be into Brad Davis, and poor Peter is left playing third wheel when Ned gets a girlfriend too. Worse, powerful elemental titans are showing up at various places on Earth to wreck mayhem, and the water elemental shows up in Venice when Peter and his classmates are in town. He manages to help a bit, but in the scene is a mysterious hero who can fly and release green-colored gas that I can only hope doesn’t smell as bad as it looks, who eventually takes down the water elemental. Peter has been avoiding Nick Fury’s calls all this while, but the man catches up with Peter and drags him to meet this hero, a man named Quentin Beck.
Quentin, who decides to adopt the name Mysterio that was given to him by the locals, claims that he’s from Earth in an alternate dimension, and his world was wiped out by the fire elemental, leaving him the sole survivor. He is here now to save this Earth from meeting the fate of his own world, and he needs all the help he can get. You see, the fire elemental is the most powerful of the four types, as it can gain strength from coming into contact with metal and even tap into the Earth’s core to boost his powers. Nick wants Peter to help – mostly because the other heroes are all unavailable, heh. Peter is unsure, and Nick lets him go… only to then rig things so that Peter’s class trip begins to take the route that sends Peter into the fire elemental’s path, heh.
Now, as usual, the good things first. This is actually a better movie than the previous Spider-Man film, although I’m still unsure about the way it is structured. This is actually a more coherent story that doesn’t feel like another collection of tropes done so many times in previous Spider-Man movies, but there are some glaring inconsistencies – especially when it comes to the behavior of Nick Fury that feels odd compared to that of his appearances in previous Marvel superhero movies – that will only make sense if one stays behind to watch the second post-credit scene. Yes, the one that comes after the interminable credit scroll, and I’m really not sure as to whether we should encourage the turning of key scenes into post-credit stuff that not everyone will catch.
I like how this movie gets the usual Marvel-esque ha-ha-ha’s and the action right. Sure, there are quips galore, but they fit very well into the movie instead of coming off as lines that try too hard to be funny. Teachers Mr Harrington and Mr Dell are here for comic effect, but their screen time is just about right – enough to be funny but not too much to grate on the nerves. I’m also pleasantly surprised by how the movie takes time to add some layers to the characters of Flash and Ned as well as Aunt May and Happy. Not too many layers, of course, as the ha-ha-ha’s and the CGI overload are the main priorities here, but enough to make me think of them as something more than props.
Also, okay, I am sold now on Tom Holland as Peter Parker. I will always have a special place in my heart for the angst-filled Peter Parker as played by Andrew Garfield, and I will kind of miss that Peter as the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn’t do angst and darkness, but Mr Holland’s Peter is just the right charming balance of heroism and geeky awkwardness. That fellow has a body that only a personal trainer can whip into shape, but the tics and awkwardness are believable as that of a geek. While there is no way that people that look like Mr Holland and Zendaya will ever be considered oddballs in high school, Peter and MJ do talk and behave like geeks who overcompensate with sarcasm and standoffish antics as a defense mechanism against other people. Yes, I’m sold on the romance too – these two are quite endearing together. Zendaya’s MJ is much more likable here too, as the script allows her to poke fun at her own tendency to go all condescending and hoity-toity social justice cow at the weirdest moments.
Now, I like Jake Gyllenhaal these days when he’s more comfortable in his own style of acting and sporting that facial hair that makes him look so easy on his eyes, but just like with Cate Blanchett in Thor: Ragnarok, I feel that he’s kind of wasted here. His role could have been played by anybody. Mind you, Mr Gyllenhaal does a solid job here, but I wish that that character had been something more… interesting. Oh, and the twist in this movie will be seen coming by anyone who already knows the story of Mysterio in the comics.
Because the initial Mysterio as he was introduced is far more interesting than the dude Mysterio turns out to be in the end, I find the second half or so of Spider-Man: Far from Home to be disappointing and even dull compared to the parts of the film prior to the revelation of the twist. The later half is front-loaded with CGI like an overflowing toilet bowl, but some of the CGI screams “green screen” way too much for my liking. The more iffy CGI looks really artificial, and it’s also hard to believe that Peter will not get shot even once with all the bullets and more flying around the place. Indeed, there is a lot of destruction taking place in a localized area in the second half of the movie, but the people in the area are oddly unaffected by the chaos and destruction – sure, they look disheveled and dirty, but nobody seems to be terrified and get hurt. In many ways, this movie is way too much like a ride in Disney World – nobody gets hurt because all the “dangers” are fake. Sit tight, ooh and aah at the explosions, and oh, the ride is over, time to check out the next one that doesn’t have a ten-hour wait.
So yes, Spider-Man: Far from Home. It’s fun, flashy, and I’m sold on the main cast. I just wish it had ended up being a little bit more than that, but I guess I am probably asking too much from a Marvel Cinematic Universe film.