I have mixed feelings about Spider-Man: Far from Home. On one hand, it’s a fine popcorn flick. On the other hand, it’s weighted down by having to cram too much story in too little runtime. And juggling between both hands are choices that make the movie sillier than it needs to be. At times, it made me flashback to watching a Michael Bay Transformer film, which is not a compliment. Far from Home isn’t bad, but it’s on the low end of mediocre.
Spider-Man: Far from Home takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame, and Peter Parker (Tom Holland) adjusts to living a normal life as a teenager while grappling with the void left by Tony Stark. The disappearance and return of half the Earth’s population after five years is explained as “The Blip”, and those caught in the Blip didn’t age. Fortunately for Peter, all of his friends were affected by the Blip, keeping their age progression in sync and their high school careers on the same track.
His class plans a trip to Europe, where Peter hopes to take a break from his Spider-Man responsibilities and confess his feelings for MJ (Zendaya). Unfortunately, a new threat to the planet in the form of elemental monsters forces Peter back into working with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and a mysterious new superhero named, appropriately, Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal).
I didn’t see Spider-Man: Homecoming when it was first released, so I watched it the night before catching Far from Home. I enjoyed the continuity between the two films, but the burden of trying to tell too many stories definitely makes this sequel less interesting to watch. There just isn’t enough time to develop everything into something compelling.
First, there’s Peter’s infatuation with MJ, which seems to have come from nowhere. I racked my brain to mentally sift through the Avengers films to recall any mention of this. Perhaps he developed his feelings while in the Blip? Furthermore, it’s difficult to understand his attraction to her. She comes off emotionless, abrasive, and unfriendly. If the film had taken time to develop their relationship, then maybe I could care about the success of their romance. As it’s presented here, it’s just something forced on the audience to accept.
Second, there’s this overarching theme of making Spider-Man the “next Tony Stark”. It’s unclear what that meant. Is Spider-Man supposed to be the new de facto leader of whatever the Avengers turns into? Is he tapped to be the next great inventor, creating new Spider-Man suits in the vein of the many Iron Man suits? Who knows? However, it seems silly that Tony would leave a very lethal defense platform in the hands of an untrained teenager, which almost results in the death of Peter’s classmate.
Third, there’s Mysterio and his abrupt appearance. He’s introduced early on to establish the threat in the film, but then he disappears for 30 minutes while the movie focuses on young adult romance troubles. There’s a distinct high school romcom vibe throughout the film filled with made-up obstacles that are easily resolved with just a little bit of honest communication. For example, Peter seems to have a big problem with revealing his identity to the public, which means dancing around certain peculiarities about his behavior. Yet, the identities of most of the other superheroes are well known, and they don’t seem to have any issues. In any event, the fact that the Mysterio plot takes a backseat to the romcom will probably disappoint fans looking for something more action oriented.
That’s not to say that Spider-Man: Far from Home is bereft of action. There are a handful of good set pieces that look great and are cleverly handled. Although, they do make less sense once the Mysterio plot progresses, but that won’t matter while you’re watching the beautiful acrobatics and explosions on screen.
Finally, interspersed throughout the movie is awkward comedy that isn’t up to the level audiences have come to expect from the MCU. In other films, the humor was typically couched in ironic behavior from superheroes reacting to mundane aspects of life. In Far from Home, the comedy comes from normal people we don’t particularly care about. For example, one of Peter’s teacher chaperones has a small bladder and is always searching for a restroom. There’s also misplaced relationship humor between Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). It all smacks of humor that pre-teens might enjoy instead of being something for everyone.
I can’t say that I was not entertained by Spider-Man: Far from Home, but it’s certainly towards the bottom of the MCU films. This film feels disjointed and pulled in too many directions in terms of theme and plot. The one saving grace is Tom Holland. He’s got the “awkward teen” schtick down pat. And if Hollywood ever remakes the Back to the Future series, then Holland should be a shoo-in as Marty. But the fact that I was thinking about those films while watching Far from Home probably says a lot about this movie.