Since 2002, we have had 8 solo Spider-man films. That’s a lot. With each new actor and reboot there has been a web of (mostly) praise and heroics. For better or worse, the current Spider-man sits squarely within the larger MCU. Gone are the days of a solo Spider-man adventure. The “friendly neighbourhood Spiderman” is now the “Billion-dollar suit wearing, cosmic adventuring superhero”. Spider-man: Homecoming was whimsically wonderful, while also full of sentiment. A teenage hero that wasn’t fighting a doomsday device, but was grappling with high-school, his place and the responsibilities that come with his powers. Spider-Man: Far From Home picks up after the universe shattering events of the Avengers: Endgame, in which the future of the MCU was irrevocably changed. The film not only wrapped up a decade of narrative threads and character arcs but was an epically adventurous blockbuster. However the question lingered… Where to go from there?
Peter Parker returns as he goes on a school science trip to Europe. Joined by Ned, MJ and the rest of the school gang, the vacation is interrupted by the persistence of Nick Fury who wants Spider-man’s help to fight and uncover the mystery of several elemental creature attacks creating havoc across the continent. The introduction of the aptly named Mysterio, brings both a relief and worry about the heroic void left by the death of Iron Man.
Fans protest that they love Marvel for the characters, however time after time we are given mind numbing destruction ridden big action set pieces with the heroes scrambling around the debris. Someone somewhere decided that this is what we want. It’s not. Spider-Man: Far From Home swings dangerously close to this, particularly in the final act. The film has a misplaced reverence and lacks the stakes. There doesn’t have to be an end of the world level threat for there to be stakes, but there does need to be an inherit chance of failure or loosing despite our heroes’ efforts. There was not one moment that Peter or his friends were in any real danger. The first half of the film is whimsical and pubescent. Helped by Hollands effortless chemistry with everyone. He plays off other actors wonderfully and embodies the web-slinger with gusto. However, it’s when Holland has to handle scenes or sentiments on his own that the empathy falters. He plays with the charming Zendaya and humorous Jacob Batalon wonderfully.
The CGI is at a new Marvel high. It’s a sight to see. And while the teenage soap opera is pleasurable, and the performers so much fun to watch, it’s a drag when Spider-Man: Far From Home has to get down to the business of being a regular old superhero movie. The eye rolling and ineffective villain reveal/climax carries on seemingly forever. Jake Gyllenhaal is one of this generations most apt and interesting actor’s constantly making bold choices both in front of the camera and in the business, but frankly he is a bore here. His character feels forced and two dimensional with little threat or sense of danger. A particular scene in the bar where he reveals his plan is cringe worthy. The fault here lies in both the story and the actor. Gyllenhaal is given a difficult character that isn’t given the revelations the story intends.
Somewhere Spider-Man stopped being the Spider-Man we know and adore. Nick Fury colourfully explains – “Bitch please you’ve been to space” … and that’s just it. He has been to space, fought Thanos and helped restore half the universe. But he IS still a teenager — and the film doesn’t do that justice. It’s a fun enough film with wildly impressive CGI and some funny moments but the story really lets its characters down, its mediocre at its core and not the swinging good time Spider-Fans are used to.
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