As the world begins to recover from the ramifications of "Avengers: Endgame," Peter Parker struggles with finding his place in a world where superheroes are more publicly demanded than ever before, so he throws himself into the fantasy escape of his school-sponsored European field trips in hopes that the chaos of the universe won't come knocking at his door. Ironically, that could just as easily summarize Tom Holland's tenure as Peter Parker depicting "Spider-Man's" adolescent endeavors.
I've made little effort to hide that Spider-Man is easily my favorite character in the history of fiction and even less effort to hide that despite an infectiously chipper performance by the talented Tom Holland, who is undoubtedly the best executed casting pick for the role thus far, Spider-Man's presence in the MCU thus far has left me with rather tepid results.
I tried to be fair with "Spider-Man: Homecoming;" given that it was the third cinematic incarnation of the franchise in less than 10 years, it only made sense that the ideas that they tried to scrape together for a new teenaged interpretation were going to be mildly unpolished. Unfortunately, "Far From Home" stops just shy of doubling down on the downplaying of Peter Parker's tragic origin in favor of amping up the high school hijinks.
To the credit of the cast and crew, Holland and Zendaya as the MCU's MJ share an electrifying chemistry and a charming back and forth budding relationship dynamic that's easily the highlight of superhero romance that doesn't involve Captain America and Agent Carter. Sadly, the remainder of the talented supporting cast doesn't quite fair as well, as the first half of the movie unfolds as a messy mismash of occasionally chuckle worthy gags loosely strung together by a film so concerned with going out of its way to be more of a coming-of-age comedy than a superhero drama, that it forgets to be a particularly good coming-of-age comedy.
The empty feeling and inconsequential nature of the first half of the movie ultimately makes for something of a dull sit-through, even when the superhero antics inject themselves into the flow of the movie. it's never remarkable, yet is too competently executed to be outright bad, while further contradicting the entire purpose of the film's predecessor, as Peter's realization that being an Avenger may not be his destiny takes a backseat to a manufactured (both figuratively and literally) Avengers-level threat requiring the assistance of an A-list globetrotting superhero.
Whatever decisions went into "Spider-Man: Far From Home" that sabotaged it’s front half aside, I would be lying if I didn't say that the back half of the film doesn't outright blow the rest of the movie out of the water.
Jake Gyllenhaal's take on Mysterio shows off a multitude of unexpected layers, and while anybody capable of running a simple Google search of Quentin Beck's name will be easily tipped off on the direction his character is sure to be moving in, the reveal of his hand marks a noticeable uptick in the film's trajectory.
The motives of Quentin Beck unveil a web of clever franchise-spanning easter eggs that enhance the grander narrative of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and provide Gyllenhaal with a plethora of magnificent material to portray one of the settings most memorable masked figures to date, while further grounding the plot in the drama that the film should have more faith in via an unexpected brotherly relationship that crops up between him and Peter, equally endearing and tragic.
When these gears really get turning, it snaps the entire movie together into something far more than the sum of its parts, similarly to the third act of "Homecoming," in which the stakes, drama, and action setpieces all collide together into the best "Spider-Man" short film ever made.
Unlike "Homecoming" however, which managed to avoid the lows that this film can occasionally sink to, "Far From Home's" gambit of superb superhero filmmaking lasts the entire second hour of the film's 2-hour and 10 minute run time, packed to the brim with a bright but impulsive boy learning how to step up and be a resourceful man to save and elevate the loved ones that he is surrounded by, culminating in three of the most visually inventive blockbuster setpieces of the year and sealing the deal on two of the most jaw dropping post credit stingers of the entire MCU.
I'll acquiesce to the fact that the younger, hipper, and fluffier take on the world's favorite wall crawling web slinger just isn't my cup of tea. Fortunately, for all of its many uncomfortable hiccups, "Spider-Man: Far From Home" massively improves upon its predecessor by displaying such a degree of imaginative craftsmanship and impact in filmmaking and storytelling that I had a blast despite my mildly irritating disposition towards the series itself.
3 out of 5
Graduating from Texas A&M University—Commerce with a bachelor's degree in News and Editorial Journalism, Jordan Wright has lived most of his adult life professionally critiquing films, from major blockbusters to indie dramas, and has no intentions of stopping.