Spider-Man: Far From Home

Far From Home is goofy fun with lot more screen time for Peter Parker and why Spider-Man could be the next big thing in the MCU.

Remember what superhero films were like many years ago? Eleven years ago, there was no such thing as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It wasn’t until 2008 when Robert Downey Jr (in the mother of all comebacks) set the ball rolling in Iron Man. And even then, we had no clue that that film would pilot an entire franchise to its grand finale a few months ago. Avengers: End Game, though epic in proportion and conclusion, did leave some lingering questions about the fate of many of the Avengers and the franchise itself. But now that the battle smoke has settled and along with it, the hype and anticipation too, Marvel fans can sit back and enjoy a superhero film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. You could also call Spider-Man: Far From Home a Marvel Lite film, because that’s all it is and tries to be.

Like Superhero films years ago, Far From Home isn’t about an elaborate plan to save the world. You won’t have to keep track of a superhero ensemble trying to collectively outwit an evil mastermind or why said mastermind wants to wipe out humanity in the first place. At its purest level, Far From Home is about a boy who likes a girl, but doesn’t know how to profess his feelings for her. That’s a highly relatable predicament for anyone who has been a high school teenager, which is the case with Peter when he learns that his crush MJ (Zendaya) is on the summer field trip to Europe. Also onboard is Peter’s best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), who like the other kids in his class, is still 16-years-old. Why they are not 21 (after Bruce Banner snapped everyone back to the ‘present day’ storyline in End Game) is cleverly explained within the first ten minutes of the film. In fact, a lot happens in the first ten minutes of this film, including a spoof farewell to the slain Avengers in End Game (looking at you, Academy Awards). As expected, one of them is Tony Stark, who lives on as Peter’s mentor in memory. But Stark didn’t die without leaving something behind for Peter – a pair of sunglasses with UV protection, and, tactical support. This little device will prove more than handy during the whirlwind tour through Venice, Prague, Berlin and London where Peter encounters a new friend and mentor – Mysterio.

Jake Gyllenhaal as Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio, is a new and terrific addition to the MCU’s ever increasing list of superhero characters. There is unaffected charisma and noble determination that Gyllenhaal gives in Mysterio, but it’s his brotherly fondness for Peter that makes us believe the latter is in good hands after the demise of Tony Stark. Where Far From Home excels is not in the expensive CGI built action scenes, which in my opinion has become tiresomely explosive and repetitive, but in the character dynamics that are equally goofy and down-to-earth candid. Sure, every superhero must battle worthy supervillains, and all that, but Peter’s greatest nemesis is his own every-day life. The peer-group pressure arising from several awkward situations Peter and his friends find themselves in significantly dials up the humour quotation in this film, while keeping the story rooted to the reality of kids being naïve, curious, expressive, and yet fragile at the same time. Tom Holland has a nuanced awareness of this which gives his Peter Parker a steep learning curve in even the very mundane aspects of being a teenager. Such is his delivery in this film that holistically, you could say Holland is the best actor to dawn the Spidey suit, even surpassing his own role in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming.

At its core, Far From Home is a teen romantic comedy resonant of the turbulence of adolescence but also the rewards that come with it. But as a superhero film, we get a lot of screen time to focus on the character development of just one superhero, and just like the good old days. Yet Arguably, the film’s release is in close proximity to End Game. This also means the film is either the final chapter to the Infinity Saga, or the beginning of a new era which could see Spider-Man as a significant character in the continuously evolving MCU. Either way, what happens during the film is well worth the price of admittance, but stay seated for the two head-smacking end credits scenes and you might just walk out with the notion that you got more than you paid for.

Rating: ★★★★☆

About Lloyd Bayer

Besides his passion for travelling, photography and scuba diving, Lloyd is a prolific film critic having contributed hundreds of film reviews to web and print journals, including IMDb and local daily Khaleej Times.