'Spider-Man: Far From Home' (2019) Review: You Can Take The Spider Out of New York...
It might seem unbelievable, but back in the days of the early 2000s, superhero films were a rare breed. Good ones, even rarer. Mostly they were a collection of films that were graded on a curve rather than outright successes. Yet even at a time when the best that we got was a “good try”, a few stood out as truly excellent. One of which, was ‘Spider-Man 2’. A film that proved you could have a film about super people and still feel like they were grounded in the real world. Nothing was more relatable than watching Spider-Man struggle with paying his rent, taking care of his elderly aunt, and failing at love all at the same time.
These days, that kind of storytelling is more or less old spandex. The very best of the genre exceed the basic benchmark of relatability. Now, it’s not enough to relate to your heroes, their films must also be inspiring, with groundbreaking special effects, and state of the art fight choreography. With so many of them coming out, standing out is harder than ever. Especially if you’re a follow up to one of the biggest and best superhero films of all time, that featured every single hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After a film like that, who cares about a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man?
Well after his stint fighting Thanos, dying, then coming back to life, Peter Parker is back in his friendly neighbourhood. A place he’d like to stay for as long as possible. From a character whose entire motivation for the last 4 films has been ‘become an Avenger’, it’s a refreshing change of pace to see his perspective shift so drastically. Right now, he only wants to focus on getting closer to a girl he likes on a class trip. One that is quickly upended by the appearance of a magic man with a fish bowl on his head, monsters made out of elements, and Samuel Jackson’s upteenth appearance as Nick Fury.
It’s a perfect premise for a Spider-Man movie. One that the film explores with the tone and pacing we’ve come to expect from Marvel Studios. It’s a mostly light hearted comedy with moments of dramatic tension, and real stakes. Everything is tied together rather neatly and synchronises well with Peter Parker’s personal plight. With scenes where its painfully apparent how much he’s struggling with being a hero, Tom Holland gives his best performance yet.
In fact, the drama is the best part of the movie. It’s the humour that seems to fall by the wayside. There are several laugh out loud moments in the film, and the film does an excellent job of coming up with new and creative ways to make you laugh, mostly using Peter’s classmates. That is until it doesn’t. At a certain point these characters are less entertaining and more grating than I would have liked. So much so that their presence in the film actively worked against it, and made it feel woefully uneven.
The problems don’t end their I’m afraid. Scenes in the film fall flat, especially with a story that is at times overly simple. The movie didn’t have to be a complex and sophisticated study of the human condition, but it felt like it was following an extremely basic formula throughout. One that it flirted with subverting but never quite got there.
Ultimately, ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ is a fun, energetic, and entertaining blockbuster, and far better than what’s been in cinemas these last two months. It also has one of the best visual effects sequences when Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio ratchets his abilities up to 11. Still, as much as I wanted to love the film, too many things stood out as problems rather than nit picks. You should still see it in the cinemas, but maybe at a discount.
Rating: Half Price
Thanks for reading. For more spidey talk, here’s the most recent episode of Late to the Party, where Brittany and I discussed the Spider-Man films starring Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and even Tom Holland. Give it a listen at the link below: