Movie Review: "Spider-Man: Far From Home" (2019)
I should’ve known that we didn’t need to worry about where the M.C.U. would go in the post-Endgame phase. The logical part of my brain knew that, yet I was still worried. The game, after all, has changed. The Avengers lineup is in flux, some of Earth’s mightiest heroes are quite dead, & the world will never be the same. So, how’s Spidey doing?
There’s the beauty of this story- Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man (Tom Holland; Spider-Man: Homecoming; Avengers: Infinity War) is essentially just fine. Sure, he misses the fuck out of Tony Stark. Yes, he has a responsibility to bear now that isn’t yet fully defined. But, he’s also a damn teenager. He’s in love with MJ (Zendaya; Spider-Man: Homecoming). He’s still super-tight with his best friend (and biggest fan), Ned (Jacob Batalon). His Aunt May (Marisa Tomei; My Cousin Vinny) has a thing going with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau; Swingers). He’s even getting ready to go on a class trip to Europe, and he plans on leaving Spidey back in the States. He intends to tell MJ his true feelings at the top of the Eiffel Tower. In short, he’s your typical teenager- resilient, youthful, carefree, & more than a little conflicted. All that comes crashing down when Venice is attacked by a massive water elemental and he has to save the day with the aid of Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaall; Donnie Darko), a superhero from an alternate Earth. Unfortunately for our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, Mysterio isn’t what he appears to be and he may never be able to just be a normal teenager. Is he ready to be “the new Iron Man”? Does he want to be?
The beauty of Stan Lee’s work is that he always endeavored to make his superheroes as human as possible. They’re real people with real problems, and he made damn sure that you cared as much, IF NOT MORE, about their personal lives than you did about the threat to humanity they were fighting. The superhero stuff was always secondary, and no character embodied this better than Peter Parker. By God, we may not all have gone through a fight with Thanos, but we’ve all dealt with teen angst and drama of the heart!
Oh, Tom Holland- what an unequivocal goddamn treasure this dude is! He’s the Spider-Man we all needed (sorry, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield). In a cinematic filled to the brim with brilliant casting, Holland is (arguably) the crown jewel. He can be tough in one moment, resourceful in the next, youthful throughout, and frankly kind of adorable. It’s ridiculous. I sincerely hope he plays Spidey until the friggin’ apocalypse.
The rest of the cast is not to be missed, either. Batalon continues to build that geek cred. Marisa Tomei is a national treasure (and rocks the living fuck out of those Mom jeans). Zendaya is the note-perfect mix of cute, weird, and gorgeous; this is a true breakout role for her. All of the MCU regulars (Jackson, Favreau, Smulders) are as good as ever, but Gyllenhaal continues to prove that he’s a legit badass with a layered character that he enhances even further than the already stellar material he has to work with. If you need further proof of his chops, see Nightcrawler.
When it comes to most of the things that critics go after (jokes, callbacks, story beats, writing, pacing, etc.) it’s the same old, same old for Marvel. That’s not a knock, really- if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There are properties out there in the Marvel Universe where you can go for something really different (I’m looking at you, Deadpool & Venom). It’s best not to rock the boat when it comes to one of not just Marvel’s but America’s most beloved superheroes. Sticking to the formula isn’t always a bad thing.
The scenes of Mysterio mindfucking our intrepid young hero are a VFX treat that would be great fun to watch with a little Liquid Jesus (just sayin’). It’s par for the course that a modern comic movie is going to look great, but my goodness! There’s so much fun in those protracted nightmares to legitimize Mysterio as a player.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn you to keep a tissue handy for the some heartfelt stuff between Happy and Spidey in the final act. The gut punch at the end of Infinity War came from the “death” of Spidey and how it affected Iron Man; then they killed you in reverse at the finale of Endgame. That relationship is a special one in film history, and Spider-Man: Far From Home makes what Peter Parker does going forward a key theme to the next phase for Marvel. It’s beautiful, nuanced, universally heartfelt storytelling from a studio that should be winning a ton of major awards in practically every concievable category. Sadly, the big awards give no love to comics, but do they really need it? I think not.
Spider-Man: Far From Home continues the ludicrously strong roll for Marvel Studios. It’s fun, well-told, and leaves an impression that also has some legit rewatch value. If you don’t believe me, then just tune a key ear in to your “Peter Tingle”.