Dir: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jon Favreau, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, and Jake Gyllenhaal
Growing up is complicated. It involves shifting attitudes and desires, becoming comfortable and capable with new responsibilities, and often times the destruction and development through awkward phases where self-confidence and self-awareness builds and crumbles with every encounter within every situation. If that sounds terrible, it is!!
Think about all these multifaceted aspects of emotional and physical development and add to all of this an extra special ability, something not provided to the rest of your peers. With this great power comes the great responsibility of having the abilities to save a life, to end a life. Suddenly the algebra test, the big dance, the pep rally, don’t have the same level of importance.
Director Jon Watts returns to further the adventures of Peter Parker with “Spider-Man: Far from Home”. Taking the story to new territory, this time away from the school hallways and into foreign countries on a class trip, the journeys of the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man grow more dangerous with added hero duties but also more personal as Peter’s two lives converge with greater risks. For a film coming off the heels of a pop culture event like “Avengers: Endgame”, “Spider-Man: Far from Home” succeeds by looking towards the future and offering a glimpse of what the continued Marvel Universe might have in store.
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) continues to go through the trials and tribulations of adolescence, however, the world isn’t the same anymore after the near cataclysmic “snap” from Thanos that altered lives and caused a 5-year pause of life for millions of people…including Peter Parker and many of his classmates.
Now, the world is trying to return to some state of normalcy, but for Peter, the world will never be the same. Spider-Man is an Avenger, went to another planet in space, helped save the world from Thanos, and, most affecting, lost a mentor/father figure in the process of it all; for Peter, life continues to grow vastly complicated. And, just when things seem to settle down, when Peter has a moment to plan his pursuit of MJ (Zendaya) during his class trip abroad, another terror arrives destroying cities across the globe while a new ally named Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) enters Earth from a parallel dimension. Complications abound.
Screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers do a nice job of tying together the major events that have passed since “Avengers: Endgame”, utilizing Peter’s interactions, like a touching discussion with Happy Hogan (John Favreau) or humorous banter with bestie Ned (Jacob Batalon), and general world interruptions, like a funny school news report or foreign television correspondence, to move the story forward. However, amongst all of these world establishing elements is something much stronger, an emotional component that directly addresses the missing piece of Tony Stark whose memorialized visage is a constant reminder for Peter of the responsibility and ultimate sacrifice heroes must make. Most of these reminders are subtle designs, like graffitied walls or physical objects like a pair of sunglasses left for Peter from Tony.
While these components all push the story in some really interesting directions, it does take some overly deliberate time to get these pieces into operational places. For the first 45 minutes of the film, the pacing is a complete mess. Side stories like a romance between Ned and classmate Betty (Angourie Rice) and encounters between Happy and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) are introduced quickly without much consequence towards the primary focus of everything. Amongst the complications that have overtaken Peter’s life, some of the side stories seem inconsequential in perspective of everything that has happened. Perhaps that’s the purpose, however, that the minor distractions in Peter’s life are easier to handle than the burden of the greater components. That focusing on minor issues that Peter understands how to grasp is better than trying to figure out why threats are constantly trying to tear the world to pieces. It feels like this was the direction being proposed in the early moments of everything in the film, but it’s not so clear.
When Mysterio, a really charming yet offbeat Jake Gyllenhaal, enters the equation, “Far from Home” finds exceptional traction because of some inventive narrative choices but also because it focuses specifically on Peter Parker and the enormous emotional swings that have been affecting his life. In the second part of the film, it becomes obvious that Peter Parker can no longer just be the “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man”, that the world has changed so much for Peter that his motivation and identity will forever be connected to a red mask of a superhero.
“Spider-Man: Far from Home” is connecting a wealth of story ideas to make its ultimate point. In the process, the film struggles initially to find its balance of all these themes, but by the end, the different storylines, whether delicately or forcefully placed, work in establishing a new world and direction for Spider-Man to venture.
3.00 out of 5.00