Spider-Man: Far from Home

Spider-Man: Far from Home ★★★

This is a film of two halves, much akin to it's predecessor, but unfortunately the divide feels more troubled here than the aforementioned example.

The two halves at show are that of a teenage comedy, and a superhero action flick. Homecoming had this too, and was probably.it's best feature. It really captured what it was like to be a nervous high schooler dealing with being a superhero in secret. Far From Home doesn't do as great a job of striking a balance between the two, and each half holds the other back as opposed to elevating it unfortuantely.

What might be surprising is that the stronger half is undoubtedly the teenage comedy. The ensemble cast is all fantastic, the characters use their limited screentime to great effect, Mr. Harrison probably being the best out of the bunch. Additionally the romance subplots between Ned and Betty, Peter and MJ, along with Brad and at times Flash being comedic foils, those bits of the film are well executed and surprisingly endearing.

Additionally having more grounded characters deliver a perspective on the insane universal scale of the recent Avengers films allows for a lot of clever moments and some light house keeping of loose ends. The Spider-man films have been the most connected films to date which makes them really fun for invested fans. FFH being no exception as the myriad of connections to other characters and plot points arguably outdoes aspects of past Avengers films.

Unfortunately this is also where a fair amount of things fall apart. The superhero stuff in the film feels a lot weaker than the teen drama character work, so much so at times it feels like an afterthought.

The best example here comes at the turning point midway through the film. Right after Peter turns over Edith to Mysterio and Beck then goes ahead and monologues him and his groups whole backstory, complete with flashbacks and person by person explanations of every bit of information hidden from the audience was just unbearable. Lazy, unfulfilling, and downright insulting, I honestly felt bad that an actor of Gyllenhaal's caliber had to take on such an abysmal bit of script work. This is then followed by Peter and MJ almost immediately figuring this out themselves in what seem like leaps in logic that come a little too fast really weighed down a lot of the strengths the film had around it. Sure it speeds up the plot to get it to the exciting parts sooner but at what cost?

An aspect that underwhelmed on both sides was the use of location. Far From Home was marketed pretty largely on it's use of European locations and putting Spider-Man, a hero as NYC as can be, in these new environments. But really aside from the general set ups for some of the school trip jokes, and a few recognizable landmarks, overall the vibe of the foreign atmosphere never came across all too strongly.

Those bits of messiness aside the script is still pretty sharp, a lot of throwaway lines or what would be assumed to be one off jokes work their way back in to be more significant which is a real positive.

Talking more on the villain, Mysterio is pretty legitimately fantastic. From the beginning (like when a Thor movie was announced that long ago) I was also concerned with how Marvel would tackle some of the fantastical elements of their universe in a believable way and mysterio might be their best take on it yet. The illusion tech was both visually captivating and technologically believable given what this universe has set up.

The illusion scenes were really creative and visually effective, should have loved to see more of that. The Zombie Iron Man transitioning to the spider jumping at the screen whose eyes then become a flank of mysterio helmets is one of my favorite shots of the year no doubt. The fight choreography is consistently visually stunning, some of the most graceful Spider-Man swinging and web slinging I've seen yet, it didn't play with the high level techiness of the suit as the previous film did which was a little dissapointing but also gave a more grounded feel to the fights and elevated Peter's own intelligence as a combatant which was good.

I think Far From Home just had too much on it's plate to really be able to provide a balanced meal. The good stuff is great, the bad stuff is really only undercooked, and overall I'm not gonna turn down that much food. This is a weird metaphor I enjoyed the film but think it could have used another pass or two to be something really special.