Movie reviews by
2 (out of 4)
Well it appears the Marvel/Spidey mashup has officially hit the brink of diminishing returns. With Spider-Man (the character and Tom Holland) trapped like a cute kid in a nasty divorce, Sony and Disney's bickering and bartering over the rights appears to have finally settled down. After losing the webslinger for about a month or so, Disney reclaims Spidey as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – though, in that leg of limbo the Disney executives pretended they actually did everything they planned to with Spider-Man concluding with Far From Home. The Mouse can't help but affect the movie's themselves with their backstage wheeling and dealing, but even viewed as just a comic book movie, Far From Home is Marvel at its most conventional and monotonous.
After Endgame left nothing beyond Thor and Guardians adventures to forecast post-Phase 3 – at least until Comic-Con reminded us, inevitably, that nothing about this franchise is ending whatsoever – Far From Home approaches the cinematic situation with even less. Spidey's second subtitled affair doesn't come close to sufficiently serving as the soothing comedown to the biggest theatrical release of all time. Some impressive aspects notwithstanding, this Marvel "vacation" proves just why the long running and recycling series will never match the pure evocative earnestness of Sam Raimi’s original trilogy, let alone the better parts of the MCU.
The most bothersome blemish of Disney's two featureless Spider-Man films is the fact that the insanely iconic hero just isn't trusted to be the star of his own show. The boilerplate themes of Far From Home are even more frustrating than they were in Homecoming, particularly because they haven't changed at all. Peter Parker must once again strive to live up to Tony Stark’s precedent (now in death rather than the flesh), but the responsibility-shrugging struggles were lame the first time and RDJ's shadow looms all too imposingly and unnecessarily – it's a flagrantly unmasked repeat of stale ideas.
Tom Holland has been a dependable age-appropriate Spider-Man and Jake Gyllenhaal continues Marvel’s late-period streak of strong antagonists as Mysterio who, granted, may be one of the finest villains of the series. The underplayed teen romance is surprisingly sweet, although I do not respect Zendaya as an acting talent, or as any talent really. The third act gets things moving but by then the series has been slightly rectonned and you’re being frequently reminded of a bad take on The Incredibles. Gyllenhaal's perfect casting as a nerd favorite has to be cathartic for some but still, whatever righteous reinvention Homecoming offered with our central characters, Far From Home has scrubbed off most of the residual charm. The movie wants to be a relaxing summer tonic following a far more eventful, emotional heavy hitter a la Ant-Man rearing Age of Ultron (or their respective sequels three years later) but the hype is all exhausted and any exaltation at new CG effects and freshly stale quips is long expired.
Furthering the John Hughes imitations and those pesky recurring jokes – best friend Ned's fling, Jon Favreau's Happy's infatuation with Marisa Tomei's Aunt May (haha isn’t she HOT?) – does not assist the amusement but deflate it. Never has the classic MCU “comedy” been so strained, the action literally been more artifical and the sense of wonderment and heroism been so dampened by the overwhelming serialization and minimal digestion between installments. This is the fourth time Spider-Man has played a key role in an MCU film, once per year since 2016 – it just makes Far From Home, especially as a farewell to the relatively grand, if overlong Phase 3, the antithesis of amazing.
Until J K Simmons reappears in a rare, actually worthwhile post-credits stinger (sadly more enjoyable than the entire preceding movie), Far From Home offers few particulars of enjoyment other than some psychedelic Spidey-screensavors via Mysterio's anticipated trickery and high school hipster courtship. There are no puzzle pieces left to put together and the forward motion of the most momentous Hollywood endeavor ever is suddenly glacial. As a mere passable dessert following Endgame's purposeful overindulgence, Far From Home purposely seeks to evade routine and ends up one of Marvel's most formulaic efforts.
To keep it brief...
Soon to Come:
It Chapter Two,
"So what've you been up to?"
"Escaping mostly... and I escape real good."
- Inherent Vice