This movie follows the emotional climatic epic that was Endgame. The heroes have lost battles, won wars and have the battle scars to show for it. It’s now down to Spider-man Far From Home, the final instalment in an epic 23-movie run,to deal with the fallout from the battle. How will Spider-Man cope with the after effects of the war, going forward?
To some extent, Marvel pulled off such a momentous challenge. This film had a lot of work to do, and it did some of it very well. Let us start by discussing the parts of this movie that succeeded.
As a huge Spider-Man fan, I cannot deny that I enjoyed watching this film. The main reason for this is how often the film made me smile with its comic-accurate references and Easter eggs. Seeing Holland present Peter as having truly terrible stage presence and being an appalling public speaker lives up to the comic books. Similarly, he nailed the social awkwardness when put on the spot, and was relatably shy when addressing a large crowd. Watching Peter as he dodged Nick Fury’s phone calls was also true to the comic-books, where Peter is notorious for being impossible to get hold of. Not only does he not answer his phone when he has the opportunity, but he is flaky and unreliable to his friends. Besides, as the comic writers like to point out, he can’t access his phone easily as his spidey-suit doesn’t have pockets!
Visually, this film is simply amazing. There is a sequence where we see Mysterio fully attack Spider-Man using his classic illusions and manipulative visions. It is spectacular viewing as the impossible becomes real. We watch with awe as nightmares and shock-inducing images stop both Spider-Man and his audience from working out what is real and what is pretend. Marvel continue to flex their CGI chops here, and show that they truly understand their own characters. The scenes are straight out of the comic-book, sucking the audience in and ramping up the excitement. It’s decidedly a comic-book film that gives great moments for comic fans.
In the comics, Mysterio is a retired stage effects worker in the theatre turned supervillain. Marvel managed to create a new compelling backstory for the character, while (somewhat) grounding his capabilities in a new light. It becomes tricky to tell the difference between his illusions and what is happening in real life, and that’s exactly as it should be.
The movie also expands upon some key characters that, up to now, have received neither the screen time or character development they deserve. Most notably, MJ as a character becomes more fleshed-out, and Zendaya gives her the confidence and charisma of her origin. The post-credit scene where MJ is screaming and hates being swung around by Peter is directly from the comics, where she absolutely hates being carried by Spider-Man. None of this elegant or overly-stylized romantic swinging that featured in the original Spider-Man or Amazing Spider-Man movies but more comic-accurate portrayal of the Mary Jane character and a more believable and accurate portrayal of their trouble-attracting romance.
Speaking of this type of unrealistic romance, the teenage love stories in Far From Home are both believable and anecdotal on real life as well as funny. Their school teachers are reminiscent of real teachers I have encountered in the wider world, the real-life observations captured and noticed, not to mention parodied. It’s wonderfully accurate, whilst subtle and endearing, and serves to make viewers reminisce about their own teenage years.
However, there are definite downsides to watching this film as an avid comic-book reader and Spider-Man fan.
First, and perhaps the most egregious, is their attempted bait and switch of Mysterio. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Spider-Man knows about Mysterio. He is a classic villain. Quentin Beck’s comic-book mojo is that he conjures up fake threats for Spidey to face and psychologically damages Peter, so the main twist of the movie comes as no surprise to those familiar with any of the main characters of the movie.
These twists also fail to prevent the movie from being extremely predictable. This is unaided by the fact that viewers saw a lot of the big scenes within the trailers themselves. We knew the plot and a number of key moments before setting foot in the cinema, and when compared to the unpredictability of Endgame, it ends up feeling a little obvious.
Worse still, the twists seem to split the movie in half, making the genre extremely confused. The opening of the movie seems intent on being a feel-good comedy, with cheap gags and comedic gimmicks a-plenty. Not all of these jokes land well and can often feel quite cheesy or forced.
In the first half of the movie, the film tries way too hard to be ironic and focuses too much on referencing existing movies. For example, when Betty and Ned are trapped in a ferris wheel, it seems reminiscent of teen horror movies or even Final Destination. When Betty delivers a word-art cringe-worthy powerpoint presentation during her newsreel, it is meant to be ironic and take us back to our own teenage experiences. However in actuality, it comes across as awkward and forced. Then the movie tries to be a cheesy rom-com, which feels insincere. It makes the movie feel lacklustre in its first half, as though it can’t quite decide what genre it wants to be.
The second half of the film takes a sudden change in tone entirely. The movie changes from being a teenage chick flick and prom-horror parody into a classic superhero action adventure movie. The film has tried to do too much, and tonally it is pulled it too many directions. It needed to pick one genre, and stick to it.
Far From Home concluded with two very important post credit scenes. These two scenes provide a glimpse into the MCU’s plans for Phase Four, and are sure to get audience members excited. These two scenes actually trump the entire movie, providing an excitement that outweighs the film and leaves fans begging for more. Fans were already eagerly awaiting Phase Four, but now the anticipation is heightened significantly. The end credits scene set up the future of the MCU and we cannot wait to see what’s in store.
As for Far From Home itself? It’s a perfectly fine film, but it’s hard not to question if something has gone awry if post-credit scenes do more for the audience than the film that preceded them...