Spider-Man: Far From Home features a more grown-up and mature story to reflect Peter Parker’s high school grade. The comedy elements are a bit overwrought, but at its heart, is a story of someone trying to find their path after dealing with a major loss — in this case, a father figure. But not to worry, true believers, because Peter has a plan and I love it when a plan comes together.
The funny thing about Spider-Man: Far From Home, the latest adventure featuring your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, is that, at its core, it’s a story about plans being formulated and then systematically being questioned, shredded, and then reformulated. And disrupted yet again. By many different characters, with many different motivations.
Tom Holland had big shoes to fill in his first film, Spider-Man: Homecoming, as he inherited a role previously played by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, and he did so with grace. He joined the Avengers for their last two outings, Avengers: Infinity War and the recent Avengers: Endgame, which will see a theatrical re-release this upcoming weekend.
Spider-Man: Far From Home takes place shortly after the events in Avengers: Endgame, with a running gag to remind us of those events. Don’t worry, the gag plays itself out exceptionally well. With this story immediately following Endgame, Peter Parker has even bigger shoes to fill.
The creative team behind Homecoming, director Jon Watts and co-screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, all return, giving Spider-Man: Far From Home a nice sense of welcome familiarity, and more importantly, some stability following the events in Endgame.
McKenna and Sommers balance the levity of Spider-Man’s character with the danger that faces him, as a teenager fawning for MJ (Zendaya). His trusty sidekick, Ned (Jacob Batalon) is along for the ride. MJ is a bit more aloof here than the character was in Homecoming, and that distraction serves Parker’s lusty angst toward her well.
Batalon has a lot of fun as the ground cover for Parker, but his antics weren’t as unique as they were in Homecoming. McKenna and Sommers did a nice job of building out his character so that it didn’t seem as overbearing as it might have seemed.
Jake Gyllenhaal’s Quentin Beck/Mysterio was the wild card. McKenna and Sommers present him to us as an expert on the Elementals, who mysteriously threaten the earth. The performance grew on me as the story progressed, with Gyllenhaal using his low-key dramatic style to nuance the character.
The writing duo also gave our supporting cast a very meaty presence. Samuel L. Jackson returns as Nick Fury, playing the detached role of “uncle” to Peter; someone to remind him of his responsibilities as Spider-Man. Marisa Tomei, whose final moment in Homecoming is still talked about two years later, has a smaller presence here, but is no less prominent.
In fact, her motherly love and advice gets us on the right foot as Parker and his classmates take off on their grand adventure. Lastly, Jon Favreau returns as Happy Hogan.
Watts brings a grand sense of adventure as Parker and his classmates take a science trip all over Europe with stops in Venice, Prague, and London. As with Homecoming, Watts continues his grounded visual style in Spider-Man: Far From Home, giving us the look and feel of an epic MCU story with the reality of the environment.
This is an important distinction as it relates to our hero. Within Watts’s reality-driven visual style, McKenna and Sommers bring a brevity to Peter Parker. As someone who is still grieving over the loss of his mentor, Tony Stark, Parker is torn between his desires as a teenager and his responsibilities as Spider-Man. In fact, there were a couple of moments where I felt that the trio, Watts, McKenna and Sommers, channeled their inner Richard Donner.
Speaking of disruptions in well-laid plans, the film clips at a nice pace for a 129 minute film, but the trademark humor of the MCU hampers the film just a bit much. There is a point in the film where the pace picks up a bit more momentum, giving the second and third acts that extra juice.
I had one criticism about Homecoming, as it omitted the Uncle Ben character. No, it’s not because the character’s name is similar to mine, but because I didn’t feel that strong, guiding presence from Tony Stark that the Uncle Ben character gave Peter in Sam Raimi’s films. Spider-Man: Far From Home rectifies this in an exceptionally meaningful way.
Spider-Man: Far From Home demonstrates what a grown-up MCU can look like. It is still heavily dependent on the humor, which is doesn’t need to be, but both Holland and Gyllenhaal give strong performances.
Oh, and don’t forget to stay through all of the credits, as there are two scenes — both with HUGE ramifications to the future of the MCU.
Spider-Man: Far From Home was originally scheduled to open on July 5, but now opens on July 2, 2019. All images courtesy of Sony Pictures.