Director: Jon Watts
Writers: Chris McKenna (written by), Stan Lee (based on the Marvel comic book by), Steve Ditko (based on the Marvel comic book by), Erik Sommers (screenplay by)
Starring: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal
Runtime: 129 mins
MPAA Rating: PG-13
After successfully wrapping up over a decade of work with the momentous Infinity War movies, Marvel now moves into MCU Phase 4 of their master operation to extract as much money as possible from the pockets of general audiences for the Mouse. The biggest issue Marvel now faces is creating compelling conflicts now that the Infinity War, which raised the stakes to the universal scale, has happened. They smartly choose to kick the new era off by putting everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood Spider-Man into the spotlight once again, proving that the MCU is not losing vitality anytime soon.
The story starts off by addressing how “The Snap” affected school-aged children and the temporal consequences of the event. I appreciate that the writers address the fact that some kids would have aged five years after “The Snap” while others would still be the same age after being brought back in what they term “The Blip.” Peter Parker (Tom Holland), honest and diffident as always, is all in on gaining the affection of the sardonic yet morbidly humorous MJ (Zendaya) and plans to make his feelings known during an international school trip to Europe. Lo and behold, crazy stuff starts happening as soon as they arrive in Venice. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), and Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), the latest superhero to appear on Earth, all show up to stop the imposing threat and rope Peter into helping out. From there, Peter must face the struggle of stepping up to face dangerous challenges despite not feeling capable and desperately wanting to live out the normal parts of his childhood.
The first half of the movie drags on because the characters are too busy cracking jokes. The two teachers leading the trip (Martin Starr and J.B. Smoove), Peter’s friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), and the obnoxious Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) are simply there to make a non-stop barrage of comedy. Per usual with MCU humor, about two-thirds of the comedy falls flat for me while the other third is genuinely funny. Additionally, all the romantic elements are really cheesy and teen-sitcom-y and also contribute to the plot dragging at certain points. It is not that the supporting characters are unlikable, but there is really nothing to most of them past surface-level; it was just annoying when they were on screen too long. For how ridiculous this movie gets, I do appreciate that it never takes itself too seriously. However, the story significantly improves after its midpoint when it reveals a neat little plot twist that is not obvious, and I do not want to spoil it.
There are plenty of elements to enjoy in this movie. In particular, I really liked Jake Gyllenhaal’s natural performance as Mysterio, especially in the scenes where he and Peter are interacting; they have a believable dynamic, and it makes sense why Peter confides in him. Tom Holland once again does a superb job playing this awkward teenage version of Spider-Man (which I have been informed is more in the spirit of the comics); he is extremely likable and the struggle he faces is understandable. The character development is adequate and the lessons to be drawn are wholesome ones for children. Far From Home really only has typical MCU movie issues, some of which I have already mentioned. More Socratic viewers need to check logic and reasoning at the door of the theater. The story heavily relies on futuristic technology, and none of it makes any practical sense. While I did not understand how any of the technology could possibly work, I did not really care too much due to the content and tone of the rest of the movie. As far as CG spectacles go, this is pretty par for the course and is exciting enough. The action scenes are easily decipherable visually, but are overly-reliant on CGI and feel very fake. Other than that, I do not have a whole lot to say about the movie. It really is just another entry in the MCU. I do feel as though the maturity of this entry compared to a few of the past films has noticeably decreased and appears to be catering to a younger demographic. That being said, it is encouraging to see that the writing is not completely stale at this point in the MCU. Don’t forget to stay for the two stingers (one mid-credits, one post-credits) if you really like cliff-hangers and not being confused in subsequent MCU movies.
If you like the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you are going to see and enjoy this movie. If you are not into superheroes, this is not the movie to change your preference. Tom Holland is definitely the most likable version of Spider-Man (though not the most cinematically iconic), and I look forward to seeing this character in the future. So I really hope Marvel makes back their budget for this movie…they have to feed the Mouse somehow.
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