Before going in: I will have a spoiler section after the initial review, so continue reading past my score to get some of my thoughts on the surprises that burst out of this movie.
Homecoming set the bar unbelievably high for the ultimate Spidey experience, but that team came together to elevate it in every aspect. The small adventure with Spider-Man (Tom Holland) facing against the Vulture (Michael Keaton) was the movie I always wanted from my favorite hero but going forward, I needed higher stakes. Far From Home delivers an impact that not only shapes the future of the web-slinger from Queens but paves the way for the next phase of the MCU. This is a true journey for Peter that soars above my expectations and every other standalone flick in this universe.
After a world-ending entity with a giant chin (John Brolin) snaps away all of life, you need a vacation. Peter heads to Europe with his class for a field trip. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) hijacks Peter’s relaxing time with his friends and his plans to ask out M.J. (Zendaya) to partner up with a new face, Quentin Beck AKA Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) to defeat mythological creatures called the Elementals. While full of action with giant beasts, this monumental task gets trickier as the neighborhood friendly superhero must cope with the loss of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Director Jon Watts and his team of writers, Erik Sommers, and Chris McKenna, hit the right note to send off the third phase of the MCU and coming off of Endgame.
Immediately the film takes care of a plot issue in a quirky, yet smart way of tackling how the snap and time travel of Endgame changes how the world works. A much-needed explanation clarifies why Ned (Jacob Batalon) and Peter, along with everyone else in their class, fit into their school after five years have passed and any age-related questions that were brought up after the world-saving snap. Watch it yourself, but I felt this was the right choice in handling some of the big questions when the two best friends reunited at the end of Thanos’ defeat.
Mysterio certainly takes a different role, but in a respectful manner that balances change and tradition for the iconic character. Gyllenhaal’s entry in this franchise has been a dream of mine, and like I knew it in my heart, he nails every beat. His chemistry with Holland shines in interviews, along with every scene they share in this story.
I had some concerns over the look of the Elementals from the trailers. The water creature looked perfectly fine since water usually does not get messed up by the VFX crew, but fire tends to look too fake. At times some of the melting metal looked off, but overall the flaming monster looks horrifyingly spectacular.
A heavy side plot involved Peter and M.J., which felt honest and fitting. Romantic subplots usually feel forced while taking away from the more exciting storylines. I had a smile through epic battles and seeing these two awkward teenagers interact. Zendaya and Holland have delightful chemistry that I can watch for hours.
The special effects along with the variety of new costumes, make this a far prettier film than Homecoming. While the first solo film with Holland’s Spidey was superb, it did not have too many stunning moments to look at except for his suit and Vulture. More color here gave this sequel a much-needed facelift while still balancing it out when needed. Not all of the CGI landed, but it excelled above its predecessor.
Traveling between different countries gave plenty of eye candy with some stunning sceneries. Seeing the Venice during an attack by destructive monsters or the nightlife of Paris generates a feeling unlike any other movie featuring the wall-crawling teenager. Changing locations kept the film fresh as the story progressed.
The way the tone was handled and balanced in Holland’s first standalone made it feel so worthy. The writing, along with the acting carries the drama, action, and comedy into higher places. One did not take away from the other. I managed to feel every emotion I wanted to feel when going into the theater.
I will say it here, this is the best adaption of Spider-Man to date, even beating its beloved, smaller outing. Watts and the writing team understand this character, and Tom Holland is Spider-Man. Some generic moments happen that was expected, but those Hollywood tropes don’t diminish what is so special about this send-off for the third phase.
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SPOILERS AFTER READING SECTION:
Mysterio’s twist from a seemingly new hero from another dimension to the villain I and many other fans knew from the first trailer. Gyllenhaal’s performance and character arc sell it so well, until the big reveal. Him gaining the power of Tony’s army of drones by earning Peter’s trust smacked me in the face, despite being ready.
He is far from the special effects artist from the comics, but he earns this change. Like Thanos, he goes from goofy, yet iconic villain to someone more believable for an on-screen take. His motivations make sense while deviating from the sympathetic style that many of the magnificent baddies of the MCU have taken. Unlike Thanos or Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), he is diabolically manipulative, and I love him.
Every entry in the MCU has it’s after credits, sometimes things are a nice laugh before going home, while others mold the future. The first epilogue drastically changes what will happen going forward with Spider-Man. Beck had one final trick before his death by revealing Peter’s identity along with framing him for the drone attack in Europe. I lost it in my seat, and I am sure the elderly woman next to me was not happy about my language. Inching near Vulture’s identity reveal and some of the major twists in the ensemble adventures, this is arguably the biggest moment in the history of Marvel’s movie-making plans.
On top of that, J.K. Simmons reprises his role briefly as J. Jonah Jameson. The cameo topped off one of the most overwhelming scenes from any superhero flick.
The ending scene, once all of the credits rolled, reveals a fan theory that has been going on for years. The Skrull theory about Nick Fury is partially correct. The significant change is that the one-eyed mastermind is still around, just in space with other Skrulls. He is still the main man behind forming the Avengers and all of his other accomplishments but has taken a step back to have control from afar.
The twists and turns of this movie really made and ruined my nerdy life. I cannot wait for the future of this universe, especially for my favorite web-slinger.
Image via Marvel Studios/Columbia Pictures