#REVIEW: “SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, everyone returning from being “blipped” out of existence is trying to find their place in the world. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is still reeling from the death of Iron Man and decides the best medicine is take a break and go on a European summer vacation with his science class. But when mysterious beings called Elementals begin attacking, Parker finds himself thrust back into action.
From the very beginning, Spider-Man: Far from Home has a lot riding on it. It has to successfully followup and address the seismic shift Avengers: Endgame laid out, while also propelling the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the future.
And for the majority of the first half, Far from Home seems ill-equipped for the job. Writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers (who wrote Spider-Man: Homecoming and Ant-Man and the Wasp) throw everything they can at the screen, filling in every minute chock full of dense material, far too many characters and a plethora of questions. There is no silence, only noise. And this kitchen sink approach threatens to send the Film careening off the rails at any moment. Some of these details are entertaining and intriguing (like the budding romance between Peter and MJ (Zendaya) and the intense feelings Peter has of living-up to Iron Man’s legacy), but far too much of it is ridiculously chaotic and sloppy.
Then something happens. Something that is best left unspoiled and freshly experienced.
Once that web flips the Film around, Far from Home rather suddenly becomes laser-focused and completely aware of itself. It stops meandering and starts moving with precision, quickly becoming as wildly entertaining and heart-stopping as you could have hoped. Yes, it still frustratingly plays within the narrative confines of the Marvel formula, but it also makes a few daring and serious turns that will surprise even the most hardened cynics. Much like Homecoming, the way Far from Home mixes-in John Hughesian high school comedy archetypes alongside coming-of-age melodrama is actually quite wonderful and rather thankfully, significantly more mature this time around. And the way it addresses some of our nagging questions about the Blip is rather entertaining (but sadly nothing addresses why it is no longer called “The Snap”).
Yet again, Holland puts in another terrific turn as Parker and Spider-Man. He gets to have a lot of fun with the role and really comes into his own. He still gets to play up the laughs, but Holland truly soars in the quiet seriousness he brings to the character. The way he deals with trauma is exceptional and genuinely affecting. You can really feel the push and pull here between his wanting to be a normal high schooler and his higher calling of being a hero. Holland truly is the best live-action rendition of the character we have seen thus far, and I cannot wait to see what he is going to do with the character next.
The supporting work from returning favourites and MCU staples are all well done. Zendaya is great as MJ, really playing into the character’s inquisitive and investigative side. Her awkward chemistry with Holland is electric, natural and captivating. But the best supporting player undoubtedly is Jake Gyllenhaal, playing legendary Spider-Man character Quentin Beck/Mysterio. From his first moment until his last, Gyllenhaal gives the character a propulsive energy that never dissipates and goes unmatched by practically everyone. He jumps into every scene with a recklessly unhinged swagger, taking charge and commanding the screen with every breath. His work here just continues to prove what a brilliant and unique talent he is.
Spider-Man: Far from Home is a bit of a mess in some areas, but spectacular in others. It follows up Avengers: Endgame in ways that will surprise, annoy and fascinate casual fans and diehards alike. Holland’s Spider-Man continues to be the best among the live-action renditions, and his Supporting Cast is an embarrassment of riches. And if you are anything like me, then prepare to cheer through the mid-credits scene.
Sony Pictures Canada release SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME on Tuesday, July 2, 2019.