Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Prior to 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, there was a general consensus that Sony had created an imbalanced franchise, the bad heavily outweighing the good - Spider-Man 2 was, after all, fifteen years ago, and the quality has significantly depleted since. A breath of fresh air was needed, and after the angsty, edgy world of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, director Jon Watts’ Homecoming revitalised the character with its John Hughes vibe, coming-of-age movie feel and a charming cast previous instalments were lacking. Smartly, they’ve decided to keep exactly what made the first film so special. Still infused with the tone of classic 80s high school movies, Spider-Man: Far From Home is not only as charming as its predecessor, but expands on its characters without becoming bogged down with unnecessary world-building, a trap into which most sequels fall.
Following the death of Tony Stark, Peter Parker (Holland) is feeling the pressure – the world wants a new Iron Man, and they think he might be it. Parker, on the other hand, does not, wanting nothing more than to go on his summer vacation, tell MJ (Zendaya) how he feels about her, and take a break from being the web-crawler for a week. That is, until Nick Fury (Jackson) shows up with new ally Quentin “Mysterio” Beck (Gyllenhaal), a man from a different universe whose dedication is to the fight the monsters that destroyed his world, beings called “Elementals”.
Initially, the film may appear slower than other superhero films, foregoing a massive action sequence in favour of focusing on where we left these characters last time. Characters who were dusted in Infinity War - referred to as “The Blip” – have now returned (sometimes in the middle of basketball games), five years younger than their classmates. It takes its time to catch up to Spidey and the gang, and enjoys the chance to have fun with the characters whilst they’re on holiday first. Its lack of urgency may frustrate some, but it’s a welcome reprieve from the emotionally heavy Endgame.
However, as soon as it does start to get going, it doesn’t let up much. The action scenes far surpass those in Homecoming, almost balletic in their fluidity and concise nature. A sequence mid-feature, in particular, is trippy without being cluttered, reminiscent of Saturday morning 90s cartoons and creatively executed. The film’s villain allows for some entertaining fight scenes, which more than makes up for the Elementals’ generic designs, floating CGI creatures devoid of any discernible features.
The performances are typically great; Holland goes from strength to strength in the lead role, with certain character developments allowing him to flex his acting chops. He is no one-trick pony, more nuanced than his puppy-eyed appearance might suggest, and there are moments where your heart truly breaks for the kid simply trying to save as many as he can without messing it up completely.
This may be Holland’s film, but Gyllenhaal is the one having the most fun. A perpetually underrated actor, he takes the role of Mysterio and embellishes – taken too seriously, this character could be awful, but Gyllenhaal’s dedication into making him over-the-top and entirely ridiculous is an absolute delight to watch, and he relishes the opportunity to take it next-level.
It may not be entirely perfect – the relationship between Peter and Ned is somewhat side lined – but this Spider-Man still remains an incredibly entertaining summer blockbuster in a season of unremarkable sequels.