Review: 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' is a Spider-Fan's Dream Come True
by Adam Frazier
July 2, 2019
Serving as both an effervescent epilogue to the weighty and momentous Avengers: Endgame and a thrilling prelude to the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Spider-Man: Far From Home is an exceedingly fun, action-packed cinematic spectacle that – like its titular web-slinger – is propelled by heart, humor, and heroism. In the aftermath of Endgame, which reversed Thanos' dusting actions and brought Peter Parker (Tom Holland) – and billions of others – back to life, Peter continues to mourn the death of his mentor, whose heroic sacrifice made his return possible. When a new threat arises while on a class trip, however, Peter must set aside his grief and step up to become the hero Tony Stark always knew he could be.
Directed again by Jon Watts (of 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming), Spider-Man: Far From Home finds the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler in desperate need of a break. Luckily, the Midtown School of Science and Technology has organized a two-week summer field trip to Europe. Peter is excited to hang out abroad with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and spend some quality time with his crush, MJ (Zendaya), but his plans for rest and relaxation are scrapped when he is enlisted by S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) to battle the "Elementals" – monstrous creatures from another dimension that harness the power of the four elements on Earth.
The Elementals – Air, Water, Fire, and Earth – have emerged through a hole in the fabric of space-time – an aftershock from the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame – but they aren't here alone. Quentin Beck (Jack Gyllenhaal), an enigmatic ally from an alternate Earth (Earth-833), has pursued the Elementals across the multiverse to Earth-616 (the MCU's continuity) to stop the powerful beings before they extinguish all life on the planet. Now, Spider-Man and Beck – also known as "Mysterio" – must join forces to face the Elements in an epic battle that will test the Avenger in ways he can't yet imagine.
Written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers (of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Ant-Man and the Wasp), Far From Home is an '80s movie at heart – a hodgepodge of National Lampoon's European Vacation, Flight of the Navigator, and WarGames, blending fish out of water comedy with teenage romance and espionage action. It's also a great Spider-Man film, with everything you've come to expect from modern superhero blockbusters – amazing special effects, cleverly executed set pieces, well-drawn characters, and pitch-perfect performances. Tom Holland is Peter Parker / Spider-Man; he embodies the beloved character completely, from his nerdy enthusiasm to his sarcastic sense of humor and unwavering moral compass.
Peter's relationships with MJ, Ned, and other characters like Harold "Happy" Hogan (Jon Favreau) and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) are at the heart of Far From Home, and Holland's chemistry with such a large, diverse cast is beyond impressive. And while Tony Stark may be gone, his memory certainly looms large over the proceedings. At one point, Happy tells Peter, "I don’t think Tony would have done what he did if he didn’t know you were going to be here after he was gone." Like Uncle Ben's death, Tony Stark's sacrifice is a reminder of why Peter became Spider-Man, but the wall-crawler isn't so sure he's ready to fill Iron Man's shoes. Far From Home is about his coming to terms with the loss of his mentor and taking on the full responsibility of being an Avenger – a superhero who can save the planet.
As great as Holland's Spider-Man is, I find myself most infatuated with Gyllenhaal's Mysterio. First of all, the character's design is fantastic. Costume designer Anna B. Sheppard and costume supervisor Graham Churchyard's work stays true to comic artist Steve Ditko's iconic designs while paying subtle homage to MCU characters like Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and Thor. Similarly, the many special effects used to bring the Mysterio's otherworldly abilities to life are jaw-dropping and make for one of my favorite sequences in any Marvel movie. It's Gyllenhaal's superior performance, however, that truly brings the character to life. The actor gives gravitas to Beck's quest while finding more than a few opportunities to display humanity and humor. Mysterio sympathizes with Peter's situation – he is able to fill the void left by Stark and offer the young Avenger guidance. I really hope we get to see more of Gyllenhaal's character in the MCU because his relationship with Peter adds a different dimension – no pun intended – to the web-slinging superhero.
For me, Watts' Spider-Man: Far From Home is the best live-action Spider-Man yet, and that's saying quite a lot because I absolutely loved Homecoming. Holland and Gyllenhaal's performances are fantastic and the brilliantly staged action set pieces are some of the most creative in the MCU. The movie's first after-credits scene, of which there are two worth watching, is an absolute game-changer for the Spider-Man franchise that will have huge ramifications on the bigger Marvel universe. Everyone will be buzzing on their way out of the theater. While Avengers: Endgame may have been the culmination of 10 years and 22 films, Far From Home feels like the beginning of something new – like we're just getting started.
Adam's Rating: 4.5 out of 5
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