Spider-Man: Far From Home Review
by H. Creasey
*** 3 Stars
‘Far From Home is more of a placeholder than an action spectacular, even as it explores how a young man learns to leave naivety behind to become an Avenger.’
Director: Jon Watts
Actors: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jacob Batalon and Samuel L. Jackson
Life without Tony Stark isn’t easy for Peter Parker, and similarly Spider-Man: Far From Home struggles as the first Marvel blockbuster after the climactic events of Avengers: Endgame. This film has a breezy spirit and, with Tom Holland’s brilliant portrayal as the beloved web-slinger, this new film is adequately rousing and jokey. Unfortunately, it ends up feeling more like a transitional chapter from Endgame into the new phase of the MCU. As a result, Far From Home is more of a placeholder than an action spectacular, even as it explores how a young man learns to leave naivety behind to become an Avenger.
One of Far From Home’s pleasures is its depiction of how the world has commemorated Iron Man’s noble sacrifice. That melancholic spirit is juxtaposed with what is often a teen-comedy/European-road-trip narrative in which Peter has to keep his classmates from learning his secret identity while saving the day and trying to win over MJ, his love interest. Adolescent hormones and nefarious forces compete for Peter’s attention, and Holland’s sweet, self-deprecating portrayal is lighthearted and empathetic.
Although the filmmakers know Peter’s thematic arc — he will come to understand that he can’t be so trusting — the plot requires him to make a few mistakes that come across as painfully predictable. In Far From Home, Spider-Man will be betrayed by those close to him, but Watts doesn’t do a good job of hiding those surprises. And unlike Michael Keaton’s dynamic, emotional Vulture from Homecoming, Far From Home’s nemesis is a more standard villain. (That said, a few of the set pieces, which bend the fabric of reality, have a trippy quality rarely seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe).
Familiar faces, such as Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, are welcome even if the parts are uninspired, while Homecoming’s Zendaya and Batalon have amusing moments without being particularly compelling figures. Peter’s excursions with his classmates — which include trips to Venice, London and Prague — tend to lead to strained comedic interludes that lack the easy playfulness of the previous Spider-Man instalment. Thankfully, Gyllenhaal is an enjoyable addition as a kindly superhero who alone can relate to Peter’s discomfort at having the weight of the world on his shoulders.
It’s natural that Far From Home would feel somewhat insubstantial after Endgame, which promised nothing less than the grand conclusion to years of Avengers adventures. By comparison, Peter Parker’s latest escapade is a fun, scaled-down piece. But even if Spider-Man is ‘far from home’, he hasn’t entirely escaped the familiarity of a typical Marvel saga.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is currently available on Sky and was rated 12 by the BBFC.