Spider-Man Far From Home (2019)
Directed by: Jon Watts
Written by: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Starring: Cobie Smulders, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Favereau, Marisa Tomei, Samuel L Jackson, Tom Holland, Zendaya
If Homecoming was about wanting to be as good as Iron Man, Far From Home is about dealing with a world without him and the expectation to fill the hole left behind. Even in death, Tony Stark manages to make it all about him. Throughout it feels like there’s an unnecessary amount of pressure for the young hero to step up to the plate and take over the mantle. And considering he’s still in school, it seems extremely out of character for what was SHIELD, to be putting that pressure on. In fact, Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), who aside from a couple of moments, seem like completely different people here. Perhaps its seeing them from the point of view of a teenager who just wants to have a normal holiday with his friends, or perhaps Spider-Man is being too selfish and their attitude is just, however something doesn’t sit right with these two.
The introduction of Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio was pretty bombastic, and for those already familiar with the character you will likely be trying to second guess what’s happening the entire time. He joins Fury and Hill in a bid to stop monsters from his world destroying the Earth. And he happens to know where they’re going to show up. Coincidentally, one of them happens to show up where Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is on a school trip, in Venice. Peter does his best to assist, despite being in his civvies, but this gives away his whereabouts to Fury, whom Peter has been avoiding all the while. He’s been trying to enlist Spider-Man to help out with Mysterio, and won’t take no for an answer. It’s this part where Fury comes across as a little… Off. As much as it is convenient for them that Spider-Man happens to be in town at the same time, he’s more than happy to let Mysterio deal with the problem and get on with his school trip. Not one to take things lying down, Fury ends up getting his own way of course. It’s here we find the true villain of the film and events start to take a turn for the worst.
It can’t be understated how much Gyllenhaal brings to his role as Mysterio. Every time he’s on screen he’s stealing the show, and plays the character with such conviction and humility, it would be difficult to imagine the role being filled by anyone else. Peter Parker’s charming naivety still works, but there’s only so long he’s going to get away it, as this may be the second Spider-Man movie, but this is his fifth appearance in the Marvel series now. The picking it up as he goes along worked for when he was finding his feet, but after his previous experiences you would have expected him to come across a little more prepared. But on the other side of the coin, he’s trying to balance his school and social life with being a superhero and the latter is proving to be a burden on the former, especially when it puts his friends in the firing line too.
There’s a notable absence in Far From Home, in the form of New York City. Spider-Man isn’t Spider-Man without the famous city as his playground. There is a moment where Peter mentions wanting to stay the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, and I’m in agreement with that sentiment. New York is as much of a character as anyone else in the films. Another thing that feels at odds is the humour. Just like Homecoming, there’s a much more playful tone to the film, and although there are some genuinely laugh out loud moments, it does come across like the writers were throwing mud to see what sticks. The tonal shift in some scenes is outright jarring, and although Spider-Man being one of the goofier heroes is great, it felt like gags were being shoehorned in left right and centre. Very much the same issues that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 suffered from. Far From Home is an entertaining ride, and when the jokes land it can be very funny. However it did feel like a drag in places, unlike Homecoming which zipped along at a great pace, this felt like it was a little saggy here and there. It’s by no means a bad film, but Endgame was an almost impossible act to follow. As always stay put during the credits, as we’re treated to a couple of teasers for what’s in store for the future of Spider-Man and the next stage of where the MCU might be headed.