Ewan Gleadow

Review: Spider-Man: Far from Home

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Courtesy of Sony Pictures – © 2019 CTMG, Inc.

The mad cow disease style raving that the Marvel Cinematic Universe manages to inspire is aggressively impressive and moderately scary. It’s not my cup of tea, and I say that before going into many of the Marvel films I end up enjoying. Spider-Man: Far from Home was an interesting movie for me, having not fully enjoyed a Marvel movie since Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, my disappointment had turned to frustration. But a sequel to a very solid Spider-Man: Homecoming featuring one of the few comic villains I fully know of? Sign me right up, and it was a real, web-slinging blast. 

Tom Holland thankfully returns to the Peter Parker/Spider-Man role and is well suited once more. After a few movies of experience behind him, he feels like he’s finally found his footing. His performance flows much better than in Homecoming, and it’s nice to see where the character is going and it’s one of the only Marvel characters currently that I’d say I’m interested in. Far from Home sees the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man take on the Eternals with the aid of one Quentin Beck, known more commonly as Mysterio. 

My interest in Mysterio comes from way back when the fourth Spider-Man movie in the Raimi trilogy was announced. A project that never came into fruition, I later discovered Bruce Campbell was meant to play Mysterio in some sort of supporting role. But to see one of my favourite villains on the big screen would’ve been pretty fun, so it’s nice to see that Far from Home has finally taken the plunge and cast Jake Gyllenhaal in one of his few, enjoyable film roles. I didn’t care much for his work in Donnie Darko, Nightcrawler or Velvet Buzzsaw, so it’s nice to see that Far from Home has convinced me he can give a solid enough performance. 

He and Holland pretty much carry the entire film. There are some superb shots throughout akin to that of the nightmare sequences that the villainous Scarecrow of Batman and D.C. notoriety would throw at us. These scenes are definitely the highlighting points of the movie, full of twisted imagery and a certainly enjoyable change in pace from the regular superhero shlock. The dynamic between Mysterio and Spider-Man is fun and some of the best stuff I’ve seen in a superhero movie since the father and son dynamic in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. 

But even with these prominent performances, Spider-Man: Far from Home suffers the same issues that nearly every Marvel film suffers from. The occasional cheesy line of dialogue does stick out here and there, but my main problem is the unfulfilling direction. Yes, the CGI looks pretty, but it has done since 2008 and the effect of these scenes has really worn thin. It becomes more an obstacle than a spectacle, especially when the side-villains aren’t really all that interesting and are just bland monsters ripped out of the nearest low budget horror film. Still, it’s not as if people will remember these villains, it’s hard to remember much from any Marvel film these days.  

It’s quite plausible then that the memory of the average Marvel fan is on an equal playing field with a lemon or a slightly self-aware blade of grass. The constant reminders and links to Avengers: Endgame, a film that released a mere few months ago is almost pace breaking, reminding us frequently of why Spider-Man is so upset. If it weren’t for a great Tom Holland performance it would’ve been a real slog to get through these scenes.  

A fine piece of film for fans of the series, they’ll lap it up like it’s the last supper, but even to cinema fans with their heads screwed tightly on and the fun restraints clipped in, Spider-Man: Far from Home is still a solid enough time, one with faults and screws loose, but an enjoyable way to spend two hours. Is it a return to form for the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Has it plucked my interest once more? No. But at least the unstoppable conveyer belt that mass-releases these films three times a year can occasionally turn out a product that doesn’t look bloated or malnourished.