Before your tears had time to dry from AVENGERS: ENDGAME, SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME is swinging into theaters. And off the bat, the film sets a tongue-in-cheek tone with a “touching” tribute to our fallen heroes, a surprisingly nice break from the depressing final scenes of ENDGAME. I, for one, got a little teary-eyed that this was seemingly the first movie without a Stan Lee cameo.
Just like other Marvel films, spoilers abound, which makes it very difficult to talk about all of the things I enjoyed in the movie. But overall I think the clear highlight of FAR FROM HOME is the relationship between Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio and Peter Parker (Tom Holland). Although different than Parker’s rapport with Tony Stark, I loved the connection that developed between the two characters, especially as Parker struggled with grief and sought a new mentor in his life. Other elements of the movie were overhyped and not as enjoyable, especially the relationship between Mary Jane (Zendaya) and Parker. At times, these negatives outweighed the positives, but Mysterio alone will make FAR FROM HOME a memorable entry into the franchise and I imagine we will be talking about him for a long time.
Taking place after ENDGAME, Peter Parker and his friends are dealing with the aftermath of “the blip,” or the five years people on Earth disappeared. When the blippers reappeared on Earth, they realized life hadn’t stopped without them. The weirdest consequence was that the people who stayed on Earth had aged 5 years and the blippers were still the same age as when they disappeared. Worst of all? The blipped students at the Midtown School of Science and Technology still had to finish high school. Womp womp.
But don’t start feeling too badly for them. At the end of the year, Peter and his classmates go to Europe for a school-sponsored, educational vacation. Although Peter’s goal is to use this time to decompress, be normal, and tell Mary Jane (Zendaya) he loves her, the villains of the world (and Nick Fury) have other ideas. A group of menacing new villains called “the Elementals” start popping up all over the world and are able to use earth, air, fire and water to wreak major havoc on Earth. With the Avengers unavailable, it is up to Spidey and his new superhero friend Mysterio to ensure the Elementals don’t destroy this world like they did Mysterio’s. (Yes, there is a multi-verse).
Once again, Tom Holland shines in the lead role, enhancing Spidey’s energetic playfulness with his natural charisma and enthusiasm. But the real stand-out of the movie is Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays one of the most memorable new characters that I have seen on-screen in any superhero film. He is perfectly cast in the role and steals pretty much every scene he is in. It’s about time we were able to see Gyllenhaal in a superhero movie and I’m glad he waited for this one in a role that really showcases his range. Oh and :ahem: yes, he looks amazing in that suit…
I know I am going to get hate for this, but the huge part of the film I didn’t care for was the relationship between Mary Jane and Peter Parker. I have always loved the characters’ relationship in the comics and on-screen, but the way Mary Jane is written in FAR FROM HOME is sooo negative (bordering on Debbie Downer). I can’t imagine Peter (or anyone) wanting to be her friend, much less her boyfriend. This is not a knock to Zendaya, who I enjoyed in THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, but more to how her character is written. I totally agree that it gets stale to have the typical girl-next-door iteration of Mary Jane, and maybe that is what they are going for here, but the writers have over-corrected too far. She didn’t even like web-slinging, despite the picture below! Come on!
Despite some annoying moments and characters, I think you will still be entertained by SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME. Whatever you do, stay for two end credit scenes, which are actually incredibly important to the story; so much so, I am surprised they weren’t included in the movie. They will have serious repercussions on the events to come… (did that intrigue you enough?)
My Review: B