In a world where Avengers: Endgame and its record-breaking success exists, especially with the upcoming “rerelease” this weekend, placing Spider-Man: Far from Home directly after such a phenomenon is risky, to say the least. Not only are fans and viewers still mourning and admittedly worn out by all the discussion of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, cutting that conversation short with a new installment from an established light-hearted, funny, and joyous character could unravel what Endgame achieved. Fortunately, fans and critics alike should be pleased with the latest outing from Marvel Studios. It’s not a home run by any stretch of the imagination, oftentimes falling short of its 2017 predecessor Spider-Man: Homecoming, but director Jon Watts and company introduce enough likable characters, intriguing plot elements, and genuine humor to make the film a bite-sized joy ride. The film isn’t a must-see and admittedly works best under the knowledge of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it’s still proficient enough even in a post-Avengers: Endgame world.
“Competent Enough in a Post-Endgame World”
Directed by Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Jon Watts, Far From Home starts off boisterous and rarely ever lets up. Its first few moments fly by quickly and with little hiccups along the way, tossing the audience immediately into its raveled plot. As such, certain important details are left out, mostly out of the assurance that the audience is versed in the MCU’s lore. And while this may be true for hardcore fans, new audiences may struggle to keep up with Far From Home’s dodgy and uneven first act. It doesn’t help that key story details are mentioned with a quick line, one that immediately follows a crowd-roaring joke. Consequently, such details are often missed. It’s an oddly structured screenplay for sure, with the screenwriters complacent with and at times even ignorant of basic pacing lessons. Additionally, Watts and company are clearly still riding the spirit of Homecoming, bringing back many returning characters and jokes that don’t always pan out. Indeed, Far From Home is more of a sequel to that of Avengers: Endgame than its 2017 predecessor, and if that is the direction Kevin Feige insisted on, then so be it. Going all-in for that direction would have helped Marvel Studios justify capping their unquestionably strongest phase of films with Far From Home, but Watts seems as confused as his characters are in whether this is the proper Phase 3 finale or a bridge between Avengers: Endgame and what’s to come.
But despite some glaring issues, Watts’ underappreciated flair for blockbuster filmmaking is still apparent, now bigger than ever with massive, sprawling set-pieces. These sequences do often fall prey to repetitive environments and scenarios that don’t add many variances or nuances. However, it’s in the trademark big and loud third act that Watts really shines. A shocking revelation on part of Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio is a massive contributing factor, turning the entire film on its head and essentially fracturing the very future of the beloved Web-slinger. Stylistic fashion and inventive moments help create some of the best action sequences Spider-Man has ever seen as a character on both the page and screen.
Of course, these sequences wouldn’t be what they were without the production team and the visual effects artists and the all-star cast. Needless to say, Far From Home undoubtedly has a massive budget riding behind it. Its effects are bright, vivid, and lively, and it has some fantastic tracks from the original score up its sleeve as well. Concerns over the questionable visual effects shots from the early trailers will quickly be silenced as it’s all deliberately intentional and deliberately brilliant at that. But regarding the cast, Tom Holland is once again fantastic as Peter Parker, showing a more reserved side of the character especially after the heartbreaking events of Endgame. The character goes down a darker path, oftentimes faced in preposterous situations. The horizons have been clearly pulled wide open for the countless directions and scenarios that Marvel could take him down.
Additionally, Jake Gyllenhaal handles his role with ease, proving to be a fantastic pick for the role and the direction that Watts wanted to take Mysterio. It isn’t the predictable character from the comics that some fans do admittedly love, but rather a more matured and modern take, something that Mysterio was in desperate need of. As for the romances, they do play a rather large role in the film, with Peter Parker’s and MJ’s relationship in the main spotlight, rightfully so, as their relationship is the only one that feels earned. Both Zendaya and Holland have clear, fully blossomed chemistry, making their awkward moments seem like nuanced moments instead.
In the end, Spider-Man: Far From Home isn’t what Phase 3 should have ended on, a title that should have been handed to Avengers: Endgame. Even so, it’s not as if it isn’t a proficiently constructed film, far from it. It’s just unclear about where it will end up in the minds of audiences once the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is complete and the dust settles once more. But for now? Stay until the credits. The importance of both sequences in the context of the MCU cannot be expressed properly.