Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Locationally-diverse with a better + more-accurate (independent) Spidey, stunning VFX, personal-growth arcs, romance with a softer MJ, & brilliant Gyllenhaal Mysterio, FFH corrects most of Homecoming’s flaws for fresh Euro-adventure. 8.2/10.

Plot Synopsis: Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

Review: Far From Home. When the title first leaked after a dust-filled Infinity War cliffhanger, theories flooded the internet of the meaning behind the esoteric name choice (and a possible dusky, orange-hued Thanos-ian backdrop for our web-slinging hero). The MCU decided to go a different route tipping his return in a light-hearted trip to Europe, complete with a new suit and one of Peter’s most famous rogues: Mysterio. After the disappointment of Homecoming (cringy-humored Iron Man’s lackey, a *far*-cry from comics Spider-Man. 4.2/10) to true Spidey fans, I was intrigued to see this dramatically-different direction they were taking one of my favorite heroes (and easily favorite Marvel hero). They did not disappoint in this fresh, different take on the character: Locationally-diverse with a better + more-accurate (independent) Spidey, stunning VFX, personal-growth arcs, romance with a softer MJ, & brilliant Gyllenhaal Mysterio, FFH corrects most of Homecoming’s flaws for a fresh web-slinging European adventure.

Far From the cringy tone of the first with a stronger, more-accurate Spider-Man. Perhaps the thing I appreciated most of all is that Holland and the crew clearly listened to fan criticism to correct most of Homecoming’s grating flaws. Spider-Man is actually (*gasp*) independent and able to do things on his own, with spectacular acrobatics and powerful ability sorely lacking in the aforementioned original. Gone is RDJ’s Iron Man talking down to Marvel’s true greatest hero like he’s his own personal donkey, and smartly-twisted is his presence to that of inspiration and aspiration more in-tune with the character we all know from the comics as almost a makeshift Uncle Ben (still have no idea where he’s been without even mention two films in btw… but I digress). The tone is also far improved to become more mature, keeping the light-heartedness awkwardness that made Holland such a hit in Civil War but with less cringy/eye-rolling jokes like “P*nis Parker” for a much smoother time – a step in the right direction growing just as its titular hero is.

Romance-centric with personal-growth and a softer MJ. Another smart decision taking into account fan backlash was MJ. Zendaya is still a questionable choice for MJ looking absolutely *nothing* like the redhead version of the character sacred to the lore of Spider-Man, but at least she’s less offending and dark/sarcastic spouting conspiracy theorist and feminist tropes looking visibly angry every frame this time. She exudes a much calmer and gentler air in FFH, even actually (*gasp*) smiling every once in a while for an MJ that (although still not remotely comic-accurate) is at least rootable for in romance with Peter that gains some happy traction towards the end as they swing through the city together (+ Ralph and Aunt May’s flings too). Peter’s personal growth arc is great too having to face that time-honored hero’s parable of choosing between heroics and happiness in personal life more pronouncedly than the first for a bit of skull-smacking weight to all the airy tonal mixings.

Locationally-diverse with an innovative plot choice. Perhaps FFH’s biggest selling point is its innovative decision to base all the (thrilling) action in a place we’re not used to: Europe. It was extremely refreshing to see the spectacular landscapes of the Venetian Canals or London Bridge or Netherlands tulip gardens instead of the same old NYC or Atlanta buildings-backdrop used for almost all superhero movies and blockbusters. Perhaps this will fuel interest for more diverse filming locations outside of the U.S. as Hollywood finally comes the *breathtaking* realization: ‘Hey, there are other spectacular (more like far-more-spectacular) visual landscapes and an entire world outside of the U.S. too! The plot choice and screenwriting motif of a superhero going on vacation is also smart being an angle not often explored in the genre and making for some hilarious gags like the 8-hour plane ride and tourist-y Instagram Stories while also invoking nostalgic times of school field trips and vacations you went on as a kid. Sensational.

Finally, Mysterio. Oh boy, what a twist. I came in ready to hate this version of Mysterio for the anti-villain/actual-hero rewrite evident from all the trailers, but I’m so happy to be wrong. They got Mysterio, one of Spider-Man’s greatest rogues – PERFECTLY. The plot twist when his true motives are revealed and theatricality reality-distortion VFX shown is absolutely jaw-dropping. This villain sends Spider-Man through the darkest recesses of his own psyche and imagination to psychoanalyze and mentally torture/twist him so many times he doesn’t even know what’s real, and it’s damn entertaining. Gyllenhaal gives a perfect performance even more dastardly in his fake-charade backstory that also boasts wildly innovative camerawork and special FX making all the imaginative dystopia come to life, plus gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse into film direction it’s intriguing to see fourth-wall while also calling-back to multiple MCU films from Civil War all the way back to Iron Man 1.

Flaws in Far From Home include some minor MCU humor-fails, major plot holes, comic-accuracy, and strange post-credits scene again failing to capitalize on the finality of ending an entire phase of 23 films. Although the humor is thankfully toned down and more serious with the jokes it does place more-hitting on non-silly themes, a couple of cracks show through like the infamous “peter-tingle” mentioned about 1,000x for giggles (because funny words are funny) it does not succeed in getting from anyone over the age of four. The film creates some massive plot holes as well (just like Endgame’s time-travel problematic/lazy writing) like the whole ‘Blip’ situation and where exactly they were all that time while the rest of the world aged, plus why when Peter gets E.D.I.T.H. back (if what it seems like they may be hinting at in Spider-Man becoming the new face of the MCU after Iron Man, I will retract everything negative I’ve ever said about HC/FFH since Marvel would finally be giving their best character his due) from Beck she obeys his commands even though to transfer control earlier there was an entire initiation/transfer ritual requiring confirmation by the old master?

Finally, that post-credits scene (referring to 2nd one, first one was wild and sets up an interesting trilogy closing arc for Spidey) was weird and makes little sense being somewhat Secret Wars-reminiscent (thought Captain Marvel’s awful Skrulls-take broke that possibility), somewhat space-armadaish, somewhat-um..? They failed to close the chapter with finality or a concrete look at what’s coming in Phase 2 again after Endgame – give us an X-Men or (true) Eternals glimpse already, it’s so easy. WTF! – and just makes for a messier and more unsatisfying close to the Infinity saga than just ending with (END)game as the veritable zenith of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that could’ve not only worked as a phase-closing, but even a franchise-ending.

Overall, Far From Home is a strong summer blockbuster far from the comparative mess that was Homecoming. Locationally-diverse with a better + more-accurate (independent) Spidey, stunning VFX, personal-growth arcs, romance with a softer MJ, same spot-on Tom Holland Peter, & brilliant Gyllenhaal Mysterio, FFH corrects most of Homecoming’s flaws for a fresh web-slinging European adventure that feels much more like a Spider-Man film – and is amongst the best of them to date (after ITSV and Raimi’s SM2, of course).

Official CLC Score: 8.2/10