NOTE: This review will contain spoilers for Avengers: Endgame. Sorry, not sorry. I mean, even the trailer did.
Tom Holland has proven over four movies – two Avengers films, a Captain America film which might as well have been an Avengers film, and his own solo Homecoming – that he’s the best Peter Parker and Spider-Man, at least in a live-action form.
For the fifth time suiting up as the web-swinger, Far From Home places our hero in a unique situation. He’s back to a (somewhat) normal life, wrapping up his school year despite his out of class crimefighting, and the world has moved on after “The Blip” (the five-years-lost to those who were Snapped by Thanos). What better way to deal with the strangeness of 50% of the people you knew growing old over the past five years while the other 50% deal with being alive again and also, in the case of Peter, having to live in the shadow of his fallen fellow Avengers, including his ersatz father figure Tony Stark than….getting away to Europe for the Summer?!
Thats right, we’re going full National Lampoon’s Vacation and making our sequel European.
But what’s the fun in a Spider-Man movie if there isn’t crimefighting hijinks?
In turn – strange things are afoot, as there are a series of giant elemental creatures wrecking havoc across the world, and the only people who Nick Fury (no longer of SHIELD but always of saving the world) can turn to are Spider-Man…and a new hero named Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) who claims to be from an alternate Earth, one destroyed by these very same elementals!
That’s a lot to get into, and I’ll be honest – the first act sags a bit under the pressure of setting up so many elements (pardon the pun), but thankfully, the film is grounded by the great chemistry of Holland’s Parker and his classmates (including Jacob Batalon’s Ned, Zendaya’s MJ, and Tony Revolori’s Flash Thompson), and an absolutely charismatic performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, who continues the meta-casting of Spider-Man characters, following Michael Keaton’s Vulture in Homecoming.
Once we finally get to Europe, the script by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers begins to sing, mixing a story of young teenage romance with the larger-than-life super-heroics you’d expect from a Spider-Man film.
The action is, as always, awe-inspiring, including the gorgeous effects of each of the Elementals (loosely based on a combination of classic Marvel characters and Spider-Man rogues gallery members Hydro Man and Molten Man), but the really wonderful stuff comes when the film does what the Marvel Studios films have done best – tying the universe together in clever ways and paying off character concepts on the big screen in new, inventive ways.
If you’re a long time Spider-Man fan, you’re going to love the Easter Eggs and callbacks. For the Homecoming fans, there’s more of what you love. For those who just love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, don’t worry, this movie really does do a great job of closing off the world we knew and kicking things off for the next series of films. As is literally said in the movie, it’s time for a new phase, and I cannot wait to see what comes next…especially after two incredibly tantalizing post-credits scenes.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t make one additional mention, that of Michael Giacchino’s score. I loved his work with Homecoming, but he does even greater work on Far From Home, building off of his ear worm of a Spider-Man theme, and making a very cool synth based refrain for Mysterio. I loved it.
Let’s be honest – based on the box office so far this extended Fourth of July weekend, you’re probably already seeing Spider-Man: Far From Home, so you don’t need my endorsement. But if you are on the fence – don’t fret: this is another great superhero film with a heart, which somehow makes the Marvel Studios formula appear fresh and effortless, 23 films in. I could watch Holland as Spidey for years to come – and in the meantime, I know I’ll be watching (and rewatching) Far From Home again and again.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is in theaters now.