The Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man does whatever he wants, and luckily for all of us, that means he wants to be in an amazing movie from time-to-time. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, the 23rd film in the never-ending Marvel Cinematic Universe, feels too good to be true. Full of some amazing music choices and lovely colors that help everything pop, this film is, dare I say it: swinging.
Directed by Jon Watts, from a script by Erik Sommers and Chris McKenna, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a delightful film from start to finish and truly leans into everything that makes the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man such a timeless character. Packed with realistic dialogue, compelling fight sequences and hilarious moments, Far From Home is one of the best superhero movies to ever hit theaters and perfectly satisfies one’s action and dramatic needs. Tom Holland continues to prove that he is the perfect choice for this updated take on Spider-Man and he’s equally compelling inside and outside the suit as he takes on bad guys and draws the courage to tell MJ (Zendaya) about his feelings.
Set against a school trip that sees Tom Holland’s Peter Parker and his classmates hit the sites across Europe, Far From Home is an action-packed film that feels large in scope but always keeps things small-scale and personal. Desperate to get away from the pressure of being one of the remaining Avengers, Peter just wants to enjoy his time away, but he keeps running into the classic Spider-Man dilemma of realizing that great power means he has great responsibilities (duh). The European setting is certainly a nice change of pace for New York’s favorite guardian and Watts does a good job using the unique geography of each location to help frame the different fight and chase sequences. There are a few psychedelic, effects-laden sequences that give audiences a beautiful, twisted peek into Peter’s thoughts and fears, but even these massive sequences allow the film to dig deeper into Peter’s emotions and aren’t just thrown in as cool looking after-thoughts. Pitted against elemental creatures that control fire and water, the film gives Tom Holland’s Spider-Man a lot of unique creatures to battle, but it’s always just as captivating watching Peter try to talk his way out of a situation or avoid his classmates as it is seeing him take-down the bad guy.
Without spoiling anything, it’s safe to say that Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) has an interesting, meaty role in Far From Home. Long term fans of Spider-Man know that Beck is a stunt-man/illusionist turned rogue, but the film gives Mysterio a unique backstory that neatly ties-in with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A hero who claims he’s from another version of Earth, Mysterio and Spider-Man help Nick Fury destroy four elemental creatures that ravaged Beck’s old home.
The entire ensemble turns in some amazing performances, making Spider-Man’s little corner of the MCU feel relatable, lively and charming. Zendaya does a great job bringing this anxious, somewhat snarky version of MJ to the big screen and her banter with Tom Holland’s Peter and the rest of her classmates makes her one of the most likable characters in the film. Ned (Jacob Batalon) is still an essential character, but the inclusion of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) takes away from his superhero support duties. Fortunately, Far From Home lets Batalon stretch his comedic muscles with a great partner in Angourie Rice, who plays Betty — Ned’s new girlfriend who brings out a more suave, romantic side of the goofball. Jackson is also back in full form with what seems like one of his most humorous stints in the eye patch as Nick Fury reckons he’s slightly losing his authority now that the world has changed. Tom Holland, Spider-Man himself, bounces off each member of the cast well and is a perfect fit for the physical comedy the role demands of an actor.
Peter Parker’s quick wits have already been on display in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Far From Home leans into his intellect in a satisfying way. Inklings of a young Tony Stark are shown to the audience as Peter is eager to learn and quick to pickup new technology, but it’s always clear that Peter is bringing his unique perspective to situations. A kid who still doesn’t necessarily believe in the world he’s inhabiting, it’s refreshing and fun to watch Peter temporarily nerd out over multiversal concepts and come across as the smartest guy in the room despite the fact that he’s usually the youngest one there. The character still has a lot of room to grow (my money is on a Christmas-themed threequel to ring out the trilogy) but there are small glimmerings at his future greatness and the scientific achievements he eventually achieves in the comics as head of Parker Industries.
While the lack of Avengers, and the world’s mourning of Tony Stark, play a big role in the movie, Far From Home serves as a perfect, isolated Spider-Man film. Everyone in the world is wondering who will be the next Iron Man, and Spider-Man is certainly feeling some public and private pressure to assume the role, but it’s nice that the focus stays firmly on Peter and the classic mix of personal and heroic problems. No matter how many countries (or neighborhoods) Spider-Man may swing across in Far From Home, everything rotates around Peter’s emotional journey and desire to have a moment of peace among all the post-Avengers: Endgame hecticness. Anthony Mackie almost made his debut as Captain America in this movie, but staying insulated from the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe helped Far From Home feel like a more gratifying movie on its own.
It’s pretty crazy that Marvel movies can keep getting better after the craziness that was the one-two punch of Infinity War and Endgame, but Far From Home has me clamoring for more MCU goodness, especially if Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is involved. There’s one rather large plot-hole neatly tucked away in the second act, but the movie is so damn enjoyable that it’s truly not worth nit-picking. The pacing, story and effects all culminate in an introspective Spider-Man story that immediately rockets to the top of my favorite Marvel movies list. It doesn’t matter that Spider-Man:Far From Home is the character’s seventh solo film in 17 years — trust me when I tell you this movie is essential viewing for anyone even remotely interested in the superhero genre (or just great filmmaking overall).
Final Score: 10/10