It is not secret among my fellow film fans that I am not the biggest of “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, I wouldn’t go far to say that it is a bad film per say (unlike some friends of mine who has gone out of their way to call it the worse Spider-Man to date), just not a film that I can really see what the hype behind it is all about. I’ve tried to watch that film quite a few more times ever since buying the DVD and I just get the same sense of indifference towards the film as I did back when I saw it in cinemas despite some of the high praise some friends of mine (mainly one with a name that rhymes with Ham Lane) as some sort of intimated story due to how pedestrian the film comes off as to me and simply works as decent white noise as I am cleaning my room. So I will say that my expectations for “Spider-Man: Far From Home” were not exactly high, but I certainly wasn’t dreading the film either since the film was going to have Mysterio who is one of my favourite Spider-Man characters as a part of the film and I am willing to give it a shot. So read this non-spoiler review for “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and fine out what my thoughts on it are:
Some may be asking the question on whether I like this film more than “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and I honestly don’t really know how to answer that question in such a straight forward manner. I will say that it is a film in which I had a slightly easier time having a more emotional attachment towards Peter in this one (sort of) and it felt more like a film rather than a TV pilot with a film budget that “Spider-Man: Homecoming” sort of was in the end. But at the same time, I felt like this is one of those MCU films that at times feels too much like a manufactured checklist of a film that is too afraid to really take risks with its premise and ideas (despite some nice visual flare here and there) and a lot of the times even if some of those stuff I am somewhat enjoying on a surface level even if a lot of doesn’t really do anywhere.
As the film presents itself in terms of its themes and character arcs, there are instances and hints that seem to have a lot of potential on what the idea could been, but just like say a James Bond film from the Brosnan era or even most of the Phase 3 MCU films in general, the script just feels like one of those emasculated men who is too much of a “mummies boy” and never quite grew up mentally not allow himself to meet such potential to truly be himself and forge his own identity with any real meaning. When it comes to story structure rather than coopting the conflict within the main hero and allowing the planted plot points and idea to truly develop or grow like a well fed child, they insert them and forget about it like your average house plant that you give to your grandmother. Switching the chance to tell a potentially relatable story about dealing inner struggle and guilt in the wake of the greatest travesty in human history (or MCU history) and ultimate triumph in the face of pure evil, to tell a story about …whatever this movie ended up being since the almost borders onto similar territory to that of “Man of Steel” with its themes as it simply throws everything except the kitchen sink at you. For a film that serves as an epilogue to that of both “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” (similar to how “Ant-Man” sort of was to “Avengers: Age of Ultron” during the Phase 2 days) and instantly references the dire consequences of “Avengers: Infinity War” has had on those who have lost their loved ones and the eventual triumph of “Avengers: Endgame” with their eventual return, it seems to approach it with a misguided sense of humour that simply comes off as rather tone death with such heavy or layered ideas that reflects on the human condition. Playing the dramatic return of snapped individuals as a High School joke with deadpan humor. Rather than taking the opportunity to explore the significance of such a monumental event, we are thrust into a world that seems like it’s barely changed at all which simply makes the 5 year time skip in “Avengers: Endgame” even worse due to the number of huge implications that it simply couldn’t ignore and simply treats it like your average high school banter that you used to think were clever jokes until you think back about them and realise just how juvenile they were. Some subsidiary, uninteresting characters represent a change over the course of five years, but it’s once more played for cheap laughs and eventual undercooked drama between the hero and his desires. I am not saying that a film with interesting themes and ideas cannot possibly have comedic potential as films like most of the Monty Pyhton films, Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy and “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” are primary example of how that can work, but the jokes and humour should be organically be interwoven into the story and should at least say something about the ideas that you are saying that simply compliments the bigger picture rather than just cheap distraction for the audience. If you really don’t want to be too heavy with your dramatic ideas, then at least do what “Aquaman” did with its ideas and similar go all the way at being an insane romp with character arcs and a plot that is easy to understand as you are watching it.
It’s a world that could be so uniquely interesting after such a devastating event and a film could use such an event as a visual metaphor to reflect on Peter’s growth as a character in terms of finding his own identity and place in the world, but it plays without any distinctive strokes or roads to follow itself up on. In regards to Peter’s and his hero’s journey throughout the film, I think the general idea of abandoning Spider-Man for an easy-going trip is promising in making a Spider-Man that makes it somewhat different and yet kind of familiar to that of “Spider-Man 2”, but it’s a story that doesn’t really develop at all as the plot and story start to become at odds with each other similar to that of “Avengers: Infinity War”. For the first 45 minutes to an hour, this movie struggles to find any real pace or have anything that resembles a proper narrative hook as it is seems more concerned with apprehending the sudden, eccentric antics of its students as the primary narrative which I could see some appeal towards (and I will admit that it did get a chuckle out of me here and there), but there really isn’t a lot to them that could really make this film that rewatchable outside of being possible white noise for me as I am writing another review or something like that to make my day go faster. After a while, the film started to remind me of when I saw “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” back in 2013 in which ended up walking out of the cinema screening for a few minutes to text a friend of mine to ask him “When does the plot start?”, to which he replied with “Which one?” almost immediately. The only difference in regards to my experience with this film is that I didn’t end up walking out of the screening to text this friend because he hasn’t seen the film yet, but I was still left wondering when anything remotely fascinating would take hold of the story and give me something worth being invested in. I never felt like this movie ended up achieving that, but there were moments that had me wondering why we ended up getting the story we got.
The story here is meticulous and irritating since it never feels deliberate or calculated for the slow pace it has, and there simply aren’t enough worthwhile beats presented to give the story some much needed energy. When it presents a character like Mysterio (played delightfully by Jake Gyllenhall), it opens up the door for endless possibilities of mind games and does manage to introduce itself in multiple capacities, but I was left wondering why they went the route they did with Mysterio. There are glimpses of genuine jaw-dropping moments and surreal sequences here and there that I never thought would be possible in a Spider-Man film back in the Raimi days, but they come so late into the picture that it makes me wonder why the first hour dragged on and ultimately came off as filler. All of the emotion (or lack thereof in this case) that they tried establishing in the initial stages to prepare for the CGI outburst of its third act makes the entire second half feel kind of pointless and kind of like “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, the dramatic weight or emotional engagement is simply nowhere to be found on screen. It’s captured with a lick of style here and there, but it ultimately amounts to directionless, characterless meandering that relies on cheap tricks and faux-twists to make us forget that the movie hasn’t really been about anything at all. It takes it’s time a bit towards the end to finally commentate on some dramatic ties between characters and thematic resonance, but it once again completely fails to achieve any level of reward because it isn’t written as such any time prior and it really should have been character development that belongs somewhere in the middle of the 2nd act in order for the emotions and characteristics to recontexualise the following events of the film just so I can care what is going on, similar to that of say Camille Montes in “Quantum of Solace”. Instead of extending scenes with repetitive and rather bland jokes that have no real meaning behind them; Why not take the time to develop character, themes, or the story? So many scenes drone on and on for no significant purpose other than to try and make you laugh at cringe-inducing jokes and eye-rolling references that either feels dated, feel like they will soon be dated or would get you completely lost within the joke itself. Making you wonder when and where the time will come when this story is going to get an exhilarating breath of air to give this story something worth rallying behind to make it worthwhile, but the film just seems so lacking in its own confidence and yet at the same time almost so full of some of its pedestrian trapping that puts restraints on its story that it never does become nothing more than a pretty average film.
As far as the action goes, it is safe of me to say that this film is certainly a step up from the rather forgettable and bland direction to that of “Spider-Man: Homecoming” since I good sense of momentum and creativity behind the sequences this time around. Outside of the Spider-Man suits needing some polishing, the visual effects this time around does deliver on a few (absolutely) stellar visual effects sequences that looks like artwork made by Steve Ditko and these moments that made me wish the movie was more like that, instead of what was actually given. Tom Holland is also doing the best at what is given to him because as I have said in my review for “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, the guys approach to Spider-Man comes off as what Brosnan did with James Bond with him being a nice mix of previous Spider-Man actors, only Holland brings his own spin to the familiar tropes of previous actors rather than coming off as watered down version of Connery or Moore as Brosnan often did for me as he is able to switch between deftly dramatic to wildly quippy is no easy task and he pulls it off with ease. However like Brosnan as Bond, it isn’t his fault that the writers can’t really find any interesting characteristics or emotional purpose to give him. Having a villain like Mysterio opens up the potential to so many interesting concepts to relate to the emotional pathways a story could tread down, but it is a character that is sorely miswritten and barely has that much screentime. Tapping into one of the few cool things he does, but he’s a character that doesn’t really resemble anything and the film-maker doesn’t use him to say anything about the hero, world, or story, something that every great villain should do whether they are the heroes opposite (like the Green Goblin), a dark reflection on the heroes secret identity (like Doc Ock) or a dark reflection on the heroes alter ego (like Venom). This is quite the disappointment since because Gyllenhall is an actor I like a lot and he played Quinten Beck commendably and as the nuisance one would expect, but the writers do him no service with a motivation that only very thinly links him to Spider-Man. Peter Part is a character that has a slight sense of growing as a character, but it comes with no emotional reward or satisfactory exploration because his journey feels unearned and short-changed. So many beats, reveals, and interactions feel hollow, out of place, and defeated by lengthy moments of drawn out humor that doesn’t lend itself to any identity or narrative purpose.
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” really is a film that I saw a lot of potential in being the live action Spider-Man that would come close to the greatness of “Spider-Man 2” and even the film that renew my interest in the MCU going forward that isn’t even “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” or “Black Widow”, but it never quite does it for me outside of some rather superficial and amusing moment that were sprinkled here and there.
My score for “Spider-Man: Far From Home” would be a score of 2.5 fishbowl helmets out of 5.