SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME review by Mark Walters – Spidey moves on after Endgame’s tragedy

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME review by Mark Walters – Spidey moves on after Endgame’s tragedy

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If you’re one of the handful of people who haven’t seen AVENGERS: ENDGAME yet, first, why? And second, you might want to skip this review and skip seeing SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME this weekend, as it definitely spoils some pretty major moments in the aforementioned Marvel blockbuster. If you have seen it, by all means, read on. After Tony Stark’s heroic demise at the end of ENDGAME, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) must find a way to live on in a world without Iron Man. Tony was his mentor, his benefactor, and his inspiration to become a superhero. With Stark no longer around, can Spider-Man still make a difference? And what about the after effects of the 5-year gap in which half the world’s civilization just disappeared? Now that they’re suddenly back (explained in the new movie as “The Blip”), what is it like re-acclimating to life? These are all themes covered repeatedly in SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME, making it not only an enjoyable Spidey adventure, but also a rather perfect epilogue of sorts to ENDGAME.

Peter’s high school class goes on a field trip overseas to Paris, where Parker hopes to profess his infatuation to MJ (Zendaya) and take a moment to just enjoy not having to save the day. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) are dealing with some mysterious new elemental-based threats popping up around the world, and an unknown superhero who has appeared to fight them. Nick wants to enlist Spider-Man’s help, but Peter is scared to take the call. Eventually, while with his class overseas, Nick insists on a chat, and Peter is introduced to Nick’s new buddy Quentin Beck / Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). Beck claims to be from another universe separate from Peter’s world, and he’s traveled here to fight these elementals who killed his family. While Peter knows the world needs a new Iron Man, he’s still reluctant to step up as he just wants some time for himself. It soon becomes clear that Fury isn’t going to let him back down that easily, and Parker’s potential relationship with MJ is forcibly sidelined. Eventually Parker and Beck join forces to stop the most dangerous of the elemental creatures, and Peter starts to wonder if Mysterio is a better candidate to pick up where Tony left off than even he is.

While some might think on the surface SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME is just another big screen Spidey adventure, what makes it something more is it coming during the wake of AVENGERS: ENDGAME, which was such a monumental event for the Marvel Cinematic Universe that it almost demands some sort of follow-up for resolution. So while this new movie is primarily about Peter Parker’s budding love with MJ, and about him meeting a new and mysterious superhero, it’s also very much about how the characters (and we the audience) can all move forward now that things have changed so drastically. It’s also about how the world moves on after the loss of Tony Stark and Iron Man, and whether or not any other hero could truly hope to fill those shoes. The opening scene is a crudely put together “In Memoriam” video montage played for the high school that recaps who perished in the ENDGAME events, set rather ridiculously to Whitney Houston’s “And I Will Always Love You”… it’s a brilliant way that the film lets us know it’s okay to move forward, and okay to laugh a little as things are about to get fun again. It’s also a fun callback to the selfie video shown at the beginning of SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING that sets the tone for this John Hughes-esque high school adventure. Where HOMECOMING felt like Marvel Studios was finally taking the reins of the Spidey franchise, FAR FROM HOME feels truly like this is part of the same storyline we’ve been keeping up with through all of the entries of the last decade.

Tom Holland is really funny and endearing as Peter, capturing the essence of an awkward high school kid we can all relate to, and the heroics necessary to be a character we strongly root for. In HOMECOMING he was quite good but here he’s perfect. And it’s really fun to watch his courting attempts toward MJ, no matter what stage they’re in. It reminded me a lot of what it’s like to fall in love with someone and not know how to express it, even when you think you know exactly what to say and do. Zendaya is also much more likable in this outing as her character loosens up and becomes more fleshed out. There’s a new character added in this time to create a love triangle for MJ and Peter, and it makes for some funny scenes throughout. Jacob Batalon is also terrific once again playing Peter’s friend Ned, who knows he’s Spider-Man, but also doesn’t want Peter to attempt rushing things with MJ, yet he himself falls into an unexpected romance as Peter fumbles him own agenda. Jake Gyllenhaal comes very close to stealing the show here, playing a complex and layered character in Quentin Beck / Mysterio, and becoming an unexpectedly strong influence on Peter’s actions in the story. For those who have read the comics, you may know what’s coming, but it’s still played rather brilliantly and about as perfect as we could hope for this character. Beck / Mysterio also helps this movie surprisingly tie into some of the previous Marvel films quite brilliantly, even tracing back to events in the original IRON MAN movie, sort of bringing things full circle for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A nod of the hat must also go to Martin Starr and J.B. Smoove as Peter’s two comically different teachers joining the field trip. And adding to the enjoyable nature of this outing are Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan (Tony Stark’s right hand man) and Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, who seem to be developing a bit of a surprise romance. You could say this is a film about unexpected relationships, and the important of knowing who to trust.

I’m not sure I think SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME is a better movie as a whole than SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING was, but man oh man is it a fun ride, and a perfect dessert after the heavy meal that was AVENGERS: ENDGAME. That’s where this movie truly excels, as it’s a perfect follow up to what we last saw, and now more than ever these Marvel movies are really feeling intimately connected. Director Jon Watts has found a nice balance with his storytelling in keeping the superhero moments reined in when needed, and allowing the dialogue and the characters to carry the piece. While this is very much a Marvel movie, it doesn’t feel like just another Marvel movie, and that’s a good thing. Michael Giacchino’s excellent score is powerful and energetic, but also knows when to accentuate the gentle bits just right. At two hours and 9 minutes, the movie feels a tad bloated toward the end, but it’s still very entertaining so it’s forgivable. Make sure to stick around for two credit scenes, one of which is very meta and quite brilliant, and one which ties into yet another recent Marvel movie in a way that’s very unexpected and interesting. I was also quite happy to see this Spidey film go out of its way to honor both Stan Lee AND Steve Ditko, especially since there’s a lot of Ditko-esque visuals in this film. If you’re a Spider-Man fan, and especially if you like Mysterio, you’re gonna love what they do here.

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME opens July 2, 2019

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started Bigfanboy.com, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and Bigfanboy.com regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.