thericvalentine’s review published on Letterboxd:
How do you follow something as bombastic as Endgame? That’s a genuine question because the residue of such a, let’s face it, over the top superhero extravaganza is felt heavily in Far Far Home, almost to the point of expectation.
Let’s break this down, because it’s something that’s been in multiple reviews. The key critique is that Far From Home doesn’t do enough, or isn’t as dark, or is just not quite to the level of Endgame and Captain Marvel, of course it isn’t, for one it’s not the culmination of a long arching story, that is bombastic in nature itself, and Spider-Man was never a character who deals with Avenger level antics. Far From Home was the perfect parachute to come back down to earth with. Here’s why: The MCU is at the peak of bombastic comic book movies to the point where they’re trying to one up the next couple. Captain Marvel tries to outdo Infinity War, and Endgame tries to outdo all the previous 22 movies combined, with here do you go from here? Black Panther? Doctor Strange? Guardians? Then what do you do with Spider-Man who’s notoriously more down to earth and realistic than every other hero in the MCU. You can’t throw him in the middle of the pack, so you start the next phase with the most grounded and simple character and story to follow, Peter Parker and Spider-Man. For me, it worked and reminded me a little bit of Shazam in that manner. It told a simple story with a well loved character. As audiences we Peter is one of the biggest characters we are invested in, from Homecoming and the dusting, and his revival in Endgame was one of the most satisfying returns out of the lot. So we develop Peter more who will be leading the charge in the next generation, the plot doesn’t need to be complicated, the story doesn’t have to be overarching to some grand design, it’s simple, Peter wants a holiday, Peter wants to tell MJ his feelings, the screenwriters throw the spanner in the works to stop that from happening. That’s the illusion here, that’s the suspense of disbelief, not whether Peter will die facing Mysterio but that he won’t get his moment with MJ. It’s simple, it’s effective and critics should lighten up, it’s Spider-Man for Christ’s sake! What the hell were you actually expecting????
I will say this though (POTENTIAL FUTURE SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!) MJ, it seems, is set up in this universe as the amalgamation of both Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacey so if the Green Goblin kills her, it will literally crush me, which is sad to say for someone who will probably be in their mid to late 30s by that time.
To the movie itself, I LOVE this cast. I think Tom Holland has firmly done a Mads Mikkelson on us and taken the mantle of a beloved character and firmly established it for himself. He is the perfect Peter Parker and whilst I prefer the classical look of Raimi’s Spidey, Holland is Spider-Man now. Zendaya is really cute as MJ and her chemistry with Holland is just adorable. Maybe because I’m at an age now where I find young love adorable or because I’m a hopeless romantic, but I could empathise with Peter’s story, we’ve all chased after that one girl and overplanned everything to the minor detail only for it to be derailed tragically. Ned is the best supporting character created in the Spider-Man series, period, across all media. He’s Spidey’s Jimmy Olsen and he’s a great presence. Likewise, Flash Thompson is great as usual.
The main event, Mysterio. How do you portray a former stuntman and special effects coordinator as a legitimate threat to Peter’s plans, and I guess the world? Well you write him like this. Is it a spoiler to say he’s the villain? Has everyone lived under a rock for 55 years that we don’t know Mysterio is one of Spider-Man’s biggest villains or is it like Norman Osbourne and the Goblin at this stage? I hope it’s the latter because I ain’t putting a spoiler banner on such a trivial and obvious character. Nonetheless, Gyllenhaal knocks the character out the park. He is weird, charismatic and plays with such a theatrical gusto that you kind of want him to succeed in some minor way.
“Universe 616 baby!” He doesn’t say that but I did pop at the reference.
What next for Spider-Man? Do they introduce Norman and start the Sinister Six saga as teased in Homecoming? Or do they throw Tom Hardy’s Venom and the Carnage Story in to the mix already? My hope, Kraven’s Last Kill.
Finally, I really dug Far From Home. It made me laugh, and kept me entertained for two hours.