‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Review: Fun, Peppy, and Essential to the MCU

     June 27, 2019

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The most frustrating thing about writing a review for Spider-Man: Far From Home is that the best, most interesting stuff in the film is off limits right now per Marvel’s request. Since this article is posting five days before the movie opens, it wouldn’t be right for me to disclose some of those surprises. So without that, I can simply say that Spider-Man: Far From Home is fun! It’s fun like Spider-Man: Homecoming was fun! Everything you loved about that film is amplified here with more texture added to characters like Peter and MJ while still providing a unique take on the MCU—what the world looks like at the ground level—that no other Marvel movie provides. Yet again, Peter is wrestling with great responsibility, but Far From Home gives that fight a flavor that we haven’t seen in the other Spider-Man movies. Although it can drag a bit at certain points, I can’t imagine the future of the MCU without this character.

Picking up eight months after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is eager to take a break from being Spider-Man. He just wants to go on a European vacation with his friends and tell MJ (Zendaya) that he has feelings for her. Unfortunately, the trip goes awry when “elementals” wreck the party and Peter is recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to fight the creatures alongside Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a hero from another dimension. Peter not only has to save the world, but also deal with the responsibility of being Tony Stark’s heir apparent.

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Image via Sony Pictures

In previous Spider-Man movies, Peter’s conflict with responsibility was about irresponsibility. If you neglect what you’re supposed to do and only serve yourself, Uncle Ben dies. Here, it’s not so much that Peter is irresponsible or doesn’t care as much as he wants a little room to be a teenager, and also recognizing that he’s not an adult. He’s very much a 16-year-old kid that people are expecting to be the next Iron Man. That makes the essence of Spider-Man feel fresh and new even though it’s the core theme of the character. I admire that these movies keep finding ways to say, “With great power comes great responsibility,” without anyone ever needing to say those words.

But director Jon Watts also knows how to balance that weighty theme with a fun, lightweight adventure. While some Marvel movies, such as Ant-Man and the Wasp and to a lesser extent Thor: Ragnarok, are all about the jokes to the point that they obscure pathos in favor of punchlines, Far From Home is admirably deft in how it can be completely irreverent one moment and wholeheartedly invested in Peter’s journey the next. Also, like Homecoming, there’s more to the story than just a superhero beat-em-up and there are themes that relate to the real world (I can’t tell you what those are, but look for that article next week!). Because Far From Home does the work of putting character first and has such a tremendously strong actor in Holland, there’s room to include jokes about Spider-Man going to space.

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Image via Sony Pictures

You also need these kinds of movies for the MCU. You need a character who interacts with people who aren’t in the business of saving the world and just living their lives. After the cold-open, Far From Home has an amazing scene that deals with the fallout from Endgame, and that scene is so necessary to the entire franchise! Far From Home doesn’t spend its entire runtime dwelling on the fallout beyond the death of Tony Stark, but it at least has the room to say, “Here’s what’s life is like for people who don’t have superpowers.” That’s so important to making the MCU feel fleshed-out and realized and providing real stakes by reminding us how an average person would react to these world-changing events.

The biggest drawback to Far From Home is that there are times where it seems like the story wants to move faster than the film will allow. What I mean by that is how some scenes run on just a little too long even though there’s nothing wrong with the content of the scene. It’s a movie that just needed a few nips and tucks to keep the momentum moving. There were times where I was checking my watch not because the film was bad, but because the pacing felt a little off and I was ready to get to the next story beat. It doesn’t cripple the movie, and it’s hard to argue against stuff like more MJ when the character becomes more layered and Zendaya is so good, but there are other scenes (can’t talk about ‘em!) where I was having fun but also wanted to move on.

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Image via Sony Pictures

There are so many exciting things to talk about with Far From Home, and I can’t wait to discuss them after the film has opened. In the meantime, I’d strongly recommend staying off social media or at least muting the term “Spider-Man” since there are some big surprises that shouldn’t be spoiled. What I can tell you is that there’s no drop off in quality between Homecoming and Far From Home. They’re both a lot of fun, Holland continues to kill it as Spider-Man, and Marvel Studios knows how to make the Spider-Man mythos feel original and distinct. Like the adoring crowds in Far From Home, I too hope Spider-Man is the new Iron Man. It means we’ll get over a decade’s worth of movies with him.

Rating: B+

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