Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home

*WARNING: SPOILERS*

Spider-Man: Far From Home is in an unenviable position: having to follow Avengers: Endgame, now the highest grossing film ever. Endgame was essentially a monumental conclusion to the Infinity Saga that said goodbye to characters we’ve loved for over a decade. It was soul crushing. For anything directly afterwards, it’s tricky not to fall flat.

However, choosing Spider-Man was wise. It narrows the scale, allowing audiences to see how the Blip (the five years post-snap) actually affected people. This transition works well for the franchise, with the student “in memoriam” video for Stark, Rogers, and Romanoff (don’t – I’m still devastated) shifting it in a more light-hearted direction.

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Understandably, after being snapped and fighting Thanos’ army, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) could do with a break. Far From Home explores a Peter who wants one summer where he doesn’t have to save the world and can do normal teenager stuff, like going on a cool trip abroad and asking out the girl he likes. Spoiler: that can’t happen when you’re a superhero! Dragged into battling the Elementals by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) alongside new ‘hero’ Quentin Beck aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), director Jon Watts showcases Parker’s conflict between wanting, and needing, a break from the craziness, and his desire to help.

Grieving the loss of Tony Stark, his mentor and third father figure (bless this kid), Far From Home’s Parker is in a rough place, hence wishing to have a vacation. This film makes one thing undoubtedly clear: Tom Holland is the perfect Spider-Man/Peter Parker. He strikes the right balance in a way which reminds the audience that despite being an Avenger, Parker is a teenager. The strongest scene is between him and Happy (Jon Favreau) on a plane in a tulip field, with Happy taking care of an injured Peter. His reactions are raw, exceptionally portraying a kid that’s struggling, feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders – the pressure of being “the next Iron Man”. He snaps at Happy, then instantly apologises. It’s emotional to watch because Peter is broken, in so much pain that it’s undeniably believable.

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Here, Peter admits that “everywhere I go, I see his [Tony Stark’s] face”. During the film, Stark appears in graffiti, paintings, and billboards, with the world remembering and honouring his sacrifice. Tony Stark’s presence reverberates throughout, fitting for the ‘official’ end of Phase 3, as it shows his legacy – and I’m not just talking about that Stark-brand sass with the EDITH acronym: Stark’s legacy is also his love and belief in Peter Parker. When Peter makes his new Spidey suit on the plane (told you it’s the best part), it echoes Stark’s own creation of the Iron Man suit: the beginning of the Infinity Saga versus the end.

On the flip side to the sad hero stuff, there’s the awkward romance with MJ (Zendaya). Here awkward is a great thing. It’s realistic for two relatively shy nerds, also making them identifiable – because who hasn’t embarrassingly flailed in front of their crush? This, complete with the remarkable talent of the core student cast (Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, and Tony Revolori), gave it a real high school feeling, a nice breather post-Endgame (I’m sorry, it still hurts). However, there were times when comedy felt forced and ranked a bit high on the cheese-ometer, but it wasn’t without golden one-liners (Nick Fury is a GIFT).

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Mysterio is an iconic Spider-Man villain, and firstly I just want to give giant kudos to Marvel for keeping the fishbowl head. I’m down. Gyllenhaal is super in the role, portraying Beck’s evolving unhinged behaviour well. I wasn’t as big a fan of how his motive presents Stark as I was of the fishbowl, with it feeling contrived in places. But, as that’s from a villain’s perspective, the seemingly out-of-character behaviour doesn’t dramatically tarnish Stark from beyond the grave. Also, Mysterio’s illusion ‘powers’ provided great visual effects scenes. Thankfully, the Iron Man illusion wasn’t as traumatic as fans expected before release, but it was insanely creepy. The problem is that a lot of fans already knew of Mysterio as a villain, so when initially presented as a new hero there’s a lack of trust, meaning the impact isn’t as big or as successful as Homecoming’s twist.

Overall, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a good time. It’s not perfection or the home-run of Homecoming, but thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless. And the mid-credits scene? Marvel pulled a shocking, bold move that leaves us questioning the future in a big way. In the background, a construction site barrier says “we are so excited to show you what comes next”, and I, for one, am extremely excited to see it.

Katie Burdon

 

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