Review – Spider-man: Far from Home (2019)
Run Time: 2hrs 13mins
Directed by: Jon Watts
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Release Date: 2 July 2019
Production company: Marvel Studios
Full Spoilers Retrospective Review
I’m delighted to be taking another trip down MCU memory lane to retroactively review Spider-man: Far From Home for BGCP Comic Con. Shortly after the events of the epic conclusion to the Infinity Saga, Avengers: Endgame, we find Peter Parker/ Spider-man dealing with the loss of his mentor, Tony “I am Ironman” Stark.
Peter is also readjusting to life after being snapped back into existence after five years, when the Avengers undid Thanos’ dusting of half of all life in Endgame. Aunt May knows he’s Spider-man now but it’s not given much weight, she supports him in it, even encourages him. Peter’s going on a trip to Europe with school and conveniently, all of the supporting cast from Spider-man: Homecoming who would have naturally returned were snapped just like Peter so there’s plenty of familiar faces to join him on the trip. Peter was hoping to get away from that superhero life monsters from another reality require his attention. He meets a new hero, Quentin Beck played by Jake Gyllenhaal the last surviving hero fro… It’s Mysterio, he’s the bad guy, it’s all a lie.
Ok so the plot is somewhat convoluted. These ‘monsters’ show up, attacking random spots around the world which draws the attention of Nick Fury and Maria Hill, (really Skrulls, Talos and his wife Soren who we met in Captain Marvel). They are acting on behalf of the real Nick Fury and are duped by the story of the Elementals that Beck (stage name) tells them. They team up and meet Peter on the Vienna stage of his school trip, as the water Elemental attacks. ‘Fury’ basically forces Peter to join them in the fight against the Elementals as strangely none of the many heroes that appeared in Endgame are available to help out.
All this being a ruse by Beck to obtain the world security system/AI – EDITH. The control of which was left to Peter by Tony after his death. EDITH is operated through a pair of unmistakably Robert Downey Jr sunglasses, that ‘Fury’ delivers to Peter in Venice. The security system is a fleet of weaponised drones on stand by in a space station in Earth’s orbit. With EDITH, you can have a multi weapon killer drone that can be at your target at a moments notice. Demonstrated in a poor fashion when Peter accidentally sets a drone on another student while they’re driving through the country on a tour bus. It’s just the silliest scene, Peter leaping out of the moving bus through the skylight, web whipping the attacking drone onto the ground in an explosion that no one on the bus heard, all while Peter lands back in the bus, with no one the wiser.
Behind the scenes
Beck drops exposition in a fantastically theatrical monologue to his secret coconspirators after he tricks Peter into handing EDITH over to him. Beck was the man who invented the ‘BARF’ hologram technology used by Tony Stark in Civil War. Stark fired Beck for being unstable leading him to band together with other former Stark employees to collectively become ‘Mysterio’.
Beck and co want access to EDITH and the fleet of drones to stage an ‘Avengers level threat’ that will place Mysterio as the next Ironman and give the cabal the keys to the world. A plan that doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny. How well would Mysterio’s illusions hold up if he had to interact with any of the other heroes in the MCU. A big mix of people with various skills and intelligences that would smell something fishy in Mysterio’s bowl.
Buuuuut Quentin Beck or whatever his real name is, was fired by Stark for being unstable. I think this plan makes sense as the plan concocted by an unstable person. Jake Gyllenhaal is so captivating in the role that it doesn’t bother me for long.
Running parallel to the main plot is the antics of the rest of the class and the their chaperone teachers Martin Starr and J.B. Smoove. I love both actors but felt they had a lot of stinker comedic lines that fell flat. The first film to depict the events of the snap or the ‘Blip’ as it’s called here, outside of Infinity War and Endgame, wisely removes all the horror of the event and plays it off comedically. The John Huges-y vibe of the last film continues here but it is given an extra sub genre of a holiday film.
Spider-man: Far From Home is also part romantic comedy. The romantic strands between Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) as well as Ned and Betty and give the supporting cast a little more focus. While they’re fun, the real cutesy stuff comes with Peter and MJ’s blossoming relationship. A minor hurdle in their pairing comes from Brad the same student Peter nearly had EDITH killed by accident. He wasn’t snapped but there isn’t anything that that novel about his character besides. Peter has been planning to express the emotions he has developed for MJ since we last saw them together on this school trip. Holland and Zendaya have a great natural chemistry together. Looking back from 2021 we could be forgiven to whimsy that it mightn’t have just been their considerable acting talents caught on camera.
Zendaya in particular gives a wonderfully earnest and grounded portrayal of a more introverted Mary Jane than we had seen before. I feel like Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane could be seen as shy in certain ways and more outgoing in others. Zendaya’s MJ is more guarded than shy. I like the introverted straight talker we’re seeing here. MJ while put in danger a few times isn’t a damsel in distress and has an active role in the story. She guesses that Peter is Spider-man and with her detective work helps him to figure out Beck’s charade.
Not only does Tom Holland share great chemistry with Zendaya but himself and Jake Gyllenhaal are a treat to behold. They bounce off each other and we see Beck charm our friendly neighborhood Spider-men when he’s on a low ebb. It makes you root against him all the more when he turns on Spidey in such a sinister fashion later in the film. It’s a truly great villainous performance by Gyllenhaal, he made me interested in a character I wasn’t that concerned with seeing.
Looking back I’m still amazed that they went for the fishbowl helmet and carried it off. But what’s really stood up for me on rewatches is the visual effects and the action. The visuals during the main illusion attack by Mysterio are ripped straight out of many Spider-man comics. One of the longest criticisms of the MCU was that it was visually flat. Now we have plenty of examples of films that trash that argument. This sequence alone is usually at the top of the list when people argue in the MCU’s defense and rightly so, its a joy to behold and really plays to the strengths of Mysterio’s quirky specificity. To a wider extent the visuals of the action between the visual effects and the practical work is top class in this film.
Short but sweet
Tom Holland’s Spider-man isnt having the best time here. He’is in grief, ‘Nick Fury’ is barking at him every five minutes and he’s just looking for a break. After fighting a cosmic space resource management obsessive with a God Complex. It’s a lot to deal with. Beck offers him the support he was looking for in Tony Stark, something to fill the void then he snatches it away and comes on the attack. Peter is rattled and it shows in Holland’s performance. He does a great job of leading the film and it’s great to see the character grow with the actor.
He’s served very well as Spider-man this time too. He gets one of the most high octane Spider-man displays of speed, ingenuity and ass kicking when he runs the gauntlet of the scores of drones surrounding Beck in the final act. It gives me the feel of reading a classic Spidey comic where he just has to keep pushing himself until he can surmount the unsurmountable. Peter’s spider sense wasn’t really defined beyond that hairs on his arm standing up in Infinity War. Far from Home shows us he’s struggling with due to being out of sorts, not unlike Spider-man’s performance issues in the second Rami film. His ‘Peter tingle’ is on the fritz and it’s not until he gets grounded from a touching pep talk by Happy. He starts to believe in himself getting zen , seeing through Beck’s illusions and dynamically Spider-manning his way to save the day.
In reviewing Spider-man: Far from Home I’ve detailed many gripes I’ve had with it and maybe judged it too harshly. I can’t help it, I’m a near life long Spider-man fan. But in saying that, in really giving it a good look over from top to bottom I can honestly say that I like it. The logistics of that bus scene will never sit well with me but the performances, the visuals the operatic action of the final act will always make me happy to rewatch this film. The post credit scenes were a shocker when I first saw them, such a joy to see J.K. Simmons return as J Jonah Jameson, even without the character’s classic flat top. And unlike the post credit scene of the first film, Aunt May learning Peter is Spider-man, the twist that Mysterio or team Mysterio have revealed Peter’s identity to the world has direct effects on the next film, Spider: No Way Home. It’s trailer finally being revealed the week of me writing this retrospective.
All in all, while I’m not sure it blows all previous Spider-man films out of the water Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse is objectively a better film, but it’s not live action. And I could see why someone would prefer Sam Rami’s Spider-man 2. Buuuuuut despite some awkward scenes and questionable script choices it’s a fun watch and I’m looking to much more Spider-man. I want a trilogy of trilogies like I heard rumored before. One for high school, one for college and one for the adult years of Spider-man. Fingers crossed Disney and Sony continue to work together to make my reams come true. Ideally with all this multiverse jazz, Sony just let Marvel/Disney have Tom Holland’s Spidey and continue the recently rebranded “Sony’s Spider-Man Universe” with a variant Spider-man. I would be surprised if Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield reprised their roles for long, if the rumors are true that they’re returning, but that’s not to say they couldn’t introduce a new Spider-man.
What did you think of the eagerly awaited Spider: No Way Home trailer? Fellow BGCP writer Daniel Boyd wrote a things missed article for the trailer you can find here and the BGCP: Disassembled Podcast discussed it in episode #25 that you can find specifically here on Youtube and here for all other platforms.
From page to screen
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