This is an easy to watch film. It hits all the notes we want it to and has something for everyone: action, emotion and humor – it is worth the trip.
In “Spider-Man: Far From Home”, Peter Parker deals with the death of his mentor and father figure, awkwardly chases after his high school crush and saves the world, albeit reluctantly.
As with “Homecoming”, the Tom Holland era of Spider-Man is light, funny and good entertainment. It is closer to the more comedic and down to earth character portrayed in the original Marvel comic books.
In this one, Peter is back in high school and goes on a trip to Europe with his fellow classmates and bumbling idiot teachers.
It is very clear he wants to get some breathing space from superhero duties and just be a normal kid. An anti: “With great power comes great responsibility” if you will.
Instead, he is focused on THE PLAN.
THE PLAN = getting the girl he likes to notice him, read: MJ (played sharply by Zendaya). This plays out as a sweet an innocent unfolding of two teenagers who are still learning how to process their feelings and each want to communicate but can’t quite get there. The characters are treated with respect and their emotions and limitations are not played for laughs – as is sometimes the case when dealing with teenage romance.
Peter has no intentions of saving the day in this edition. He just wants to enjoy some down-time in picturesque cities and finds himself somehow roped into saving the day.
There is a twist in the movie for those who haven’t read the comics or know that much about the canon of Spider-Man, so if plot points are important to you, don’t read any more!!
The twist is Mysterio. Good ol’ Mysterio, one of the CLASSIC Spider-Man villains and most iconic of the whole œuvre.
As a master manipulator and illusionist, Mysterio makes Nick Fury, Spider-Man and the whole world believe that the Elementals (a group of 4 ravaging monsters based on the elements of fire, water, earth and air) are out to destroy the world, and only he can destroy them, with a little help of Spider-Man of course. His explanation includes a multiverse where his earth was destroyed by the Elementals so he travels to this one to stop them in time.
But even though he projects himself as the hero in the beginning of the movie, all the comic book fans knew it was for nefarious purposes, to manipulate the masses into believing he could be the next great big thing. He has patiently waited to fill the vacuum that Iron Man left with his death and sets to become the hero of the world. All from the comfort of a VR headset.
Since he operates drones that project a simulated reality, Mysterio choreographs quite stunning fight sequences ripe with insults, overwhelming villainy power, and starring him as a swashbuckling savior in the middle of it all.
One thing that is lacking is the motive for Mysterio’s take over of the world. It seems rushed in the movie and condensed into a melodramatic Black & White flashback and a throwaway line of: “I want the world to know the truth”. It does not feel strong enough and is the only part of the movie that seems underdeveloped.
The fight sequences, however, are very well done. The cinematography is active but not dizzying, jumping along with Spider-man and changing POVs quickly, but with ease.
The VR (virtual reality) illusion is timely and is used quite well, which also brings us to the emotional aspects of the film.
Though the tone is light, “Far From Home” tackles some poignant issues. A major one is the death of Iron Man in “Endgame”. Peter struggles with losing his faux father and questions whether the world depends on his shoulders now.
This is addressed quite frankly and directly throughout the film where we see Tony Stark’s legacy (on murals and statues) and his memory (with EDITH, the powerful glasses that can do almost anything), but also his absence and the psychological implications it has on Peter. No moment might be more disturbing in the movie than when Peter sees a zombie version of Iron Man creeping towards him in the dreamlike sequence Mysterio concocted to toy with Peter’s fears — and make him question what is real. Chilling and visually impressive, the dreamlike sequences serve as fight scenes but also internal struggle scenes.
A sweet moment occurs when Happy comes to rescue Peter in a Stark Industries plane and Peter builds a new suit in the back. Seeing Peter tinker with the machinery and get passionate serves as a reminder that Iron Man lives on forever and his ingenuity will continue to inspire the next generation of superheroes.
Finally, the comedy! This movie is packed with jokes, from Ned’s incredulity to all the cool things that come with being a superhero, and to Peter’s classmates for looking up to Spider-Man and not giving a second thought to Peter. But none might be as effective as MJ’s deadpan delivery and smart-aleck personality. Zendaya toes the line perfectly and plays off of Tom Holland’s discomfort beautifully. Well written and well executed.
“Peter Parker: You look really pretty.
MJ: Therefore I have value?
Peter Parker: No…that’s not what…
MJ: I’m just messing with you. You look pretty too.”
It was weird to see a Spider-Man movie not take place in New York, but it worked and we were able to get a taste of it in the satisfying final scene. A bookending to an entertaining ride backed with a punchy 80s post-punk end credits song.
Fun, exciting and packed with jokes. The blockbuster of the summer – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ½