“Spider-Man: Far From Home” is the end of Marvel’s Phase 3 and the second solo outing for the wall-crawler in the MCU. Peter finds himself trying to deal with (SPOILER from Avenger: Endgame) the death of Iron Man and whether or not he can live up to Tony’s legacy. He’s also trying to take a vacation and just focus on being Peter but, as luck would have it, he finds himself forced to don the mask and save the day.
On paper, “Far From Home” should be enjoyable. Bringing back the team behind “Homecoming”, I was fully expecting to love this film. Walking out of the theater I was dismayed by how disappointed I felt. Some aspects of the film were very good but the overall product left me dissatisfied.
Tom Holland once again knocks it out of the park as Peter Parker and his costumed alter ego. Any time we get to see him on screen is a delight but I feel the people around him aren’t as enjoyable. This series of Spider-Man films focus on Peter still being in high school and I don’t know what happened between this and the last film but I can’t stand the rest of Peter’s class. Zendaya as MJ is the only saving grace for the student body. The rest of the characters just feel like dead weight and serve only to deliver a joke here and there.
Another issue I have with this is the shoehorning in of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, a character I admittedly don’t enjoy to begin with. I just feel that when the movie has “Spider-Man” in the title, he should be at the forefront. However, once Fury and his crew show up at the end of the first act, Peter almost feels sidelined. Not to knock Jake Gyllenahl, who is phenomenal as Quentin Beck/Mysterio, but Tom Holland just seems to be shifted to the side whenever these characters show up on the screen.
Regarding Gyllenhal, I feel he does such a good job playing Mysterio. One of my favorite parts of this film is the costume they designed for him. It looks like it belongs in the MCU but still has the trademark identifiers from the comics. Who would have thought we’d actually get to see a live action version of a man with a fishbowl for a head? What a world.
Fishbowls aside, I found the story felt incoherent. It had elements that could have held an entire movie in their own right, such as Peter grieving for Tony Stark, but instead that gets mashed together with a bunch of other nonsense. Tom Holland is very capable at selling the anguish Peter is going through and his ability is underutilized.
One of my favorite scenes is him breaking down at the end of the second act, just beating himself up for all the things that he feels responsible for. Which, as we all know, is what Spider-Man is all about; with great power comes great responsibility. Add onto that the enormous legacy Peter feels Iron Man has bestowed onto him and we could have had a really good deconstruction of what makes Peter Parker tick. The constant struggle he has of trying to just be a normal kid but also dealing with the enormous power he yields when he puts on the mask everyday is rife with possibilities for at least one whole feature.
Instead, we get a tiny glimpse of that pathos intercut with CGI villainy and goofy class antics. I mean, I already stated I don’t care for Peter’s classmates but we spend way too much time with them. Aside from breaking up the storyline and serving as something for Peter to save, they don’t feel fleshed out enough to merit their inclusion. The time spent on them could have been better spent on fleshing out the Big Bad’s plan or giving Spider-Man more time to shine on his own.
Muddled action also proved detrimental to the film. I found myself simultaneously elated in some action scenes when Spider-Man does something clever and then immediately disappointed when a mass of CGI nonsense follows shortly thereafter. Certain scenes in the film also drag on for far too long, including some of the aforementioned CGI sequences. At a little over two hours, it would have benefitted from some editing.
After the enormity of “Endgame” I understand that Marvel wanted to close out Phase 3 with something a little more lighthearted and fun. I just felt “Spider-Man: Far From Home” could’ve done better. As it stands, it feels more like a tacked on addition to the larger MCU narrative and as setup for “Spider-Man 3” while failing to establish itself as its own film.
Tom Holland is pretty great, though. Without him, this movie would’ve been garbage.
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” is currently in theaters. It is rated PG-13.
2 out of 5 stars
Oscar Chavez Castaneda is the Montrose Daily Press’ film critic. Find out more about him on his website, oscarchavezcastaneda.com. He will review a movie new to theaters or a new DVD release every other week.