BS: In the immortal words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Hello There!” and welcome to another one of Bill and Daniel’s Excellent Reviews! Before we get started, we think it’s important to give you a spoiler warning, not for Far From Home, but for Avengers Endgame. If you’re one of the three people who haven’t seen that film yet, you’re gonna wanna go see that movie first because it relies pretty heavily on a plot point from that movie. We’ll keep it spoiler free for this film, but we will need to talk about that plot point! I mean, it is even in the second trailer for the movie. Just wanted to relay that message before we get started. Onwards and forwards!
It’s hard to believe, but it’s been more than two months since Avengers Endgame was released and took the world by storm, breaking almost every box office milestone and taking us on an emotional roller coaster ride that I should have prepared myself more for. I cried, Daniel cried, we all cried, we’re adults we can all admit it. It was a sprawling epic that was an endeavour just to find the time to watch, at just over three hours it was a substantial commitment. That’s honestly why I was so excited for Spider-Man: Far From Home, because it looked like such a light and fun adventure continuing the consequences of Endgame, while not being the emotional gut-punch Endgame was. In a lot of ways it 100% succeeds in that, and does so while nailing everything you love about Spider-Man but never reaching those highs from the first MCU Spider-Man film, Homecoming.
DD: That is not to say that Spider-Man: Far From Home is a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination. It is still really good and it works as a perfect capstone to the Infinity Saga in the MCU. Where Endgame packed it’s runtime with content, Far From Home leaves the characters with a bit more time. It’s as much about Peter’s life outside of the costume as it is about his life wearing it. But most of all, it’s about grief. Here is the big Endgame spoiler here for the two of you who haven’t seen it but we have to rip off this bandaid to talk about what makes this movie so special: Tony Stark died. There we go. See that was relatively painless. Tony’s death fills this movie with an emotional depth that might not have been there for any other film that could have come after Endgame. Tony was like a father to Peter Parker and was also the face of the Avengers. In a world without him, Peter is left rudderless while facing pressure on all sides to step up and be the new Iron Man. It’s a lot for a 16 year-old to handle and Tom Holland delivers a performance that is complex and at times heartwrenching. He is so good at showing the subtle signs of grief for his mentor.
BS: Beyond just showing his grief for losing his father figure, Tom Holland is an excellent Spider-Man, period. In my eyes, he’s the best Spider-Man that’s ever been put to film. Don’t get me wrong, there are great things about Tobey McGuire’s and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Men, but I think he completely encapsulates that character and is actually still really close to Spider-Man’s 16 year old character. There’s something genuine about his Peter Parker and it feels like the Spider-Man that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created is jumping off the page and onto the big screen. He’s a kid dealing with the ultimate power and responsibility of an Avenger and he just wants to be a kid again. As Daniel said, he’s facing pressure from all sides to step up, and in particular, Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury, who needs him to be the next Iron Man. Fury in this film feels like the most harsh version of the character that we’ve seen, and throughout much of the film feels like the strict parent, constantly scolding Spider-Man. He’s the dad from Footloose, and Peter just wants to dance with the pretty girl that he likes.
DD: Before Bill goes on too much of a Footloose tangent, let’s swing this review back to Spider-Man. Nick Fury is doing the same kind of things he would do with Tony Stark: give him a mission to save the world and a stern talking to that in his mind might be a motivational speech and watch as he becomes the greatest hero in the world. But Peter isn’t Tony Stark. He’s just a kid and Fury has trouble connecting with him. Peter is on his own journey and feels like he is all alone on it. Or at least, that is until Jake Gyllenhaal’s Quentin Beck aka Mysterio shows up. Gyllenhaal’s performance is charismatic and charming. He makes Mysterio incredibly likable and gives Peter someone to talk to about the superhero life. All of this ties into the narrative of the story, a story about Peter’s internal struggle between his life as a superhero and his desire for a normal life with MJ the girl he likes.
BS: Speaking of MJ, Zendaya is awesome in the role. I had reservations when they revealed who she really was in Homecoming because at that point, she had only done a couple of Disney Channel shows, but man has she really expanded and gotten better. She’s definitely not your traditional MJ, but I really liked her awkward and dark humor and her chemistry throughout the movie with Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is excellent. You really feel like you’re actually watching two awkward teenagers that like each other come together, and it’s really sweet and reminds me of interactions I had as a teenager with the girl I liked. To talk a little bit more about Quentin Beck, he’s basically exactly what Peter is looking for in a mentor after Tony dies and as Daniel said, he makes it work because of his charisma and charm. There’s even a point where he puts on an important plot device in the film, and he kind of looks like Tony Stark. While I really enjoyed a lot of the action set pieces, it was those little moments of Mysterio and Spider-Man talking about being a hero and loss that really stand-out especially really early in the film.
DD: But let’s talk about those set pieces. They are fun and action packed making use of the variety of locations that Peter’s trip through Europe opens up to them. One sequence in particular is incredibly inventive and creative, making use of everything we know about Peter’s past and making use of one of the bigger twists that is in the movie. It really is a sight to behold and ties into the world of the film nicely. While we’re at it, let’s talk about that world building. Far From Home expands our understanding of the MCU in ways that help us understand a lot. They give us a look at what the Snap looked like to people who were left behind as well as giving us an understanding of what it was like when people returned post Endgame and even some of the challenges that caused. There is even backstory for characters you might not expect to have fully fleshed out backstories that tie into the theme of Tony Stark throughout the movie. The post credits scenes (there are two and you should stay for them) really expand on the MCU and set up interesting plot points for future movies in a cool and creative way.
BS: Those post credit scenes really do an effective job of making sure you walk out of that theater with an “Oh shit” look on your face and there’s one in particular where I went through every emotion except sadness because it takes a point in those set pieces and expands it and introduces some really, really interesting characters that we haven’t seen in this universe before. Now that I’ve talked at length about why I like it, let’s get into what I didn’t. I can’t exactly put my finger on what one thing it was, but in my opinion, it just never reaches those highs that the first Spider-Man did. It can be really, really slow in some parts,and it feels more like teen romantic comedy in spots. Now I’m not against that at all, and it can be really funny when it does that, but I just felt like Homecoming did a better job of conveying that original spirit of Spider-Man and how a kid living a normal life in Queens would deal with that kind of power. Far From Home feels like a Spider-Man movie that jammed in some famous European destinations and I just didn’t really like that aspect of the film.
DD: The pacing does struggle a lot, especially at the beginning. It isn’t slow but goes from high octane action to slower paced character moments without that much grace. This probably comes from trying to merge a teen romantic comedy in with your standard Marvel superhero movie as well as the emotional climax to Endgame. It’s ambitious but stumbles a little bit on the landing. The other main problem I have is that there is a moment in the movie where the plot’s resolution comes down to Peter overcoming a problem that, while slightly hinted at, isn’t really shown to be an issue throughout the film. It feels more like the movie telling you this is a problem rather than showing you why it’s a problem. It’s not a dealbreaker and you will still enjoy the movie but it makes him overcoming that obstacle feel a little hollow.
Overall, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a really fun movie that handles its source material well. It understands the emotional complexity of its characters and their motivations and treats them like real people living in a crazy world. Peter’s journey of figuring out his role as a superhero and what kind of hero he wants to be is handled incredibly well and one moment in particular triggered my nostalgia and brought back fond memories of watching the MCU kick off 11 years ago. The movie is flawed but fun and full of heart. A lot like Peter himself.