"Spider-Man: Far From Home" reignites Marvel-Sony property battle
Even with its odd and foreseeable narrative, "Spider-Man: Far From Home" is still the most enjoyable Spidey flick to ever grace the silver screen.
Do you ever stop and think about how rich therapists must be in the MCU? Terrorism, maniacal robots, evil sorcerers, purple people with wrinkly chins - the threats never stop! And after the events of 'Infinity War' and 'Endgame,' I can only imagine the stress of the everyday person has reached an all-time high.
Or maybe they've all just numbed it out at this point. Oh, another alien invasion? I hope I get work off this time.
Anyhow, the point is, our good pal Peter Parker (Tom Holland) isn't doing so hot. After watching his mentor fall, and the Avengers dismantle, he's going through a whirlwind of emotions. (Aren't we all?) While keeping up with neighborhood heroics, Peter's high school does something super awesome and takes his class on a European adventure. Why? Who cares! But while on this trip, he is swept away by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) for some top secret hero stuff, putting him in a tough situation: turn down the director of SHEILD and hangout with his friends, or once again save the world?
After the last few MCU films, present threats on Earth all seem like child's play. But when the Elementals show up (evil beings made of Water, Fire, and Earth), they may be too much for Spidey to fend off on his own. Luckily, handsome Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) is here to lend a hand, using his cosmic green lasers and rock show fog to stylistically defend Europe. As the threats only get bigger, however, one question screams louder than the scared citizens: Can this powerful hero be the new Ironman? Or is Spider-Man destined to take up the mantle?
Now, if you're a Marvel fan, and more specifically, an outspoken Spider-Man fanatic (such as myself), you already know the answer to this question. In fact, even though 'Far From Home' tries to trick you into thinking something different, in your heart of hearts, you know exactly what is going on here. Does that make the movie predictable? Somewhat, yes. And that's all right.
What works so well for "Far From Home" is Tom Holland, who, once again, absolutely kills it as the titular character. He's got the charisma, the awkward teenager mannerisms, and by golly, this boy packs an emotional punch. His care and respect for the beloved character are clear, always maintaining a sense of duality between over-the-top charm and personality, and melodrama. No matter what the plot is, or how the narrative unfolds, if Tom Holland is in the scene, it's going to be a good scene.
Gyllenhaal, on the other hand, seesaws with his performance. The second and third acts are tremendous, and he gives a memorable and unique life to the classic comic book character of Mysterio. I must say, he depicts insanity quite well.
However, the first act doesn't do Mysterio any justice. The script lags, becoming overly elucidating, and Gyllenhaal just isn't given fresh enough dialogue to make his character all that interesting. The reason this switches in the final acts is because Marvel and Sony stop trying to misdirect the audience, and instead, give us a story (and a character!) worth watching.
Speaking of Sony, their annoyingly expositional hands can be seen more in this film than in 'Homecoming.' Much of the early narrative feels forced upon the viewer, as it is constantly explaining minute details and character motives that, realistically, need far less clarification. This leads to one dreadful villain monologue, a boatload of cliches, and unfortunately, this over-explanation hurts the character development. It's clear that Sony was hanging out in the writer's room for far too long. Give Marvel a chance to breathe!
It's when Marvel is at the reins that 'Far From Home' propels in quality. Everything clicks into place, even the mediocre plot points that made the first act not as strong. See, Marvel knows how to give Spider-Man a true cinematic experience, and their twenty-two film resume is proof of this. Sony, on the other hand, leaves a path of destruction in their wake. But since they're unwilling to sell the character (the buttheads), a partnership such as this is the best possible scenario. At least for now.
Don't get me wrong, all of this negative talk about Sony doesn't mean that 'Far From Home' is a disaster. On the contrary, it's a total blast that packs just as much heart and reflexivity as it does high-octane action. Not only this, the visual elements are truly spectacular. Mysterio's powers are given a spotlight as bright as the sun, making his on-screen appearance the coolest and most stylistic of any other Spider-Man character to date. Believe me when I say these spectacles need to be seen on the big screen.
The international filming locations also give Spider-Man a new playground to fight baddies. Sure, the majority of these fights are steaming in CGI, but they still look awesome when placed in real-world locations. Water monsters in Venice? Molten beasts in Prague? Yeah, I'm all in.
When you bring everything together, 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' is just what fans need to cleanse their pallet after 'Endgame'. It provides fans with an intermission experience - while the dust settles from the ending of the Infinity Saga, and we await the next big chapter, we get to indulge our superhero cravings with this unique and high-spirited jaunt. It trips over its footing at times, but hey, don't we all?
- Final Thoughts -
While at the times the power struggle between Sony and Marvel can be seen in the uneven plot and odd character progression, 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' is one of the most loyal comic book films to date. Mixing raw emotion with spectacular visuals, it is some of the most fun you'll have at the movies all summer.
("Far From Home" image courtesy of Empire)