Movie Review: ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’

Director: Jon Watts

Cast: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, J.B. Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, Angourie Rice

Plot: Peter Parker is still the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man but feels pressured to take up Tony Stark’s mantle. He hopes a school trip to Europe will give him room to breathe but he only finds new challenges.

Review: Here to cap off the the 3rd Phase of the MCU and add a bit of brevity following Endgame is a fresh new adventure with the beloved web-slinger. With a bold new hero called Mysterio making their mark on the world, Peter (Holland) looking to make a romantic connection with classmate MJ (Zendaya) and a tour of Europe interrupted by giant elemental monsters there’s certainly plenty to see. Whether it manages to give us as tightly written and performed experience as Homecoming…well, it comes close.

Taking place in the world post-Thanos there are a number of characters – including Peter and his most notable classmates – who vanished in The Snap only to return to life five years later. Wait, sorry, it’s not ‘The Snap’…it’s officially in universe known as ‘The Blip’. Right off the bat this phenomenon is addressed and we get a cross-section of the how this has impacted the world. In contrast to the emotional experience we got previously this movie provides a bit of light comedy, moving quickly away from how devastating and confusing these past few years were. It’s almost weird how quickly people seem to have taken it all in stride. But I guess we’re here to ruminate on the past, but develop Peter Parker further, so we don’t begrudge this being swept under the rug after the first act.

Peter is still helping out around the neighbourhood and raising money to support those who were displaced by the Blip. He is, however, looking to avoid taking on new superhero responsibility now that a number of major Avengers are no more and instead wants to enjoy his youth and a trip to Europe. Most notably he wants the chance to tell MJ how he feels about her and has to contend with a romantic rival named Brad and his bestie Ned (Batalon) insisting that they be ‘bachelor’s in Europe’. During all this Peter is ducking calls from Nick Fury, who is desperate to recruit heroes to battle giant Elementals who are threatening to destroy the world.

With this we get our central conflict and our new character, Quentin Beck (Gyllenhaal), who soon gets dubbed Mysterio. When a giant water creature attacks Venice, Mysterio and Spider-Man cross paths, with the latter being well impressed by the formers ability to fly and blast green lasers and smoke and go toe-to-toe with this immense menace. Mysterio, along with Fury (Jackson) and Hill (Smulders), explain that he is from an alternate version of Earth that had been destroyed by these ancient creatures and wants to prevent it from happening again.

Now to any Spider-Man fan what happens next is not going to be any surprise, and for those people you will get the character you’re familiar with. I’ll keep things vague for those who are unaware. As someone who has been hoping to see Mysterio on the big screen for some time it’s hard to imagine this being done better. It’s given an update to reflect the modern world and fit it in with the established MCU world. There’s one battle in particular where Mysterio is completely let loose with his abilities and it’s delightfully mind-bending. Ultimately Mysterio is pretty two dimensional, but his motivation unfolds in an amusing manner.

All that aside, this is a movie primarily about Peter Parker facing down his potential future. Surprisingly this is handled a bit clumsily where Nick Fury is concerned, with Fury turning up here and there to bark at Peter about needing to be a super-hero. The way he puts a high-schooler on the spot and in such a dangerous situation is downright dickish. It works out much better when Parker is interacting with Happy Hogan (Favreau), who represents a link to his lost mentor and carries one of the film’s most genuinely emotional movements.

Taking Spider-Man to Europe makes for some cool set-pieces but it does feel like something is missing. Spider-Man without New York feels a bit strange, like Captain America without his shield. Given that this is a story about Peter finding his feet after life-altering changes it may have worked better on his home-turf.

At the end of the day this is a damn fun new entry in the MCU. Tom Holland is an excellent web-slinger, and we really like Zendaya’s MJ. She plays a much bigger role in this film and she gets the chance to flesh out her character beyond being snarky at people. Mysterio is a unique new aspect to Peter’s story. We’re not bored with this series, not by a long shot.

Rating: EIGHT out of TEN