By Chic DiCiccio
At the time of this writing, “Avengers: Endgame” has made almost $850 million in the United States alone. If you haven’t seen it by now, it’s highly likely that you aren’t into the whole “comic book movie” thing. That being said, this review of “Spider-Man: Far from Home” is going to have spoilers in it so grab this paper, go see “Endgame” and then read away.
It’s impossible to discuss “Far from Home” without bringing up the events from “Endgame” as it shapes the entire character arc of Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland). Peter and most of his friends were erased from existence for five years, and he was brought back just in time to see his mentor and father figure, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., not appearing in this film), die while saving the world. For a teenager, Peter is dealing with a lot of stuff, and the poor kid needs a break.
Alas, the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn’t allow for a break. Peter’s Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) is dating his new Avengers handler, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), he’s struggling with his crush on MJ (Zendaya), and, to top it all off, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson’s 11th time in the role) hijacks his class trip to Europe so Spider-Man can save the world again.
Fury needs Spider-Man to help defeat a group of Eternals that snuck onto our Earth from another reality during the highly meme’d Thanos snap from “Avengers: Infinity War.” Luckily, Fury has found Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), also from another reality, whose family was killed by these Elementals, and his mission in life is revenge.
Yes, that’s a lot of comic book nerd stuff. Don’t worry, “Far From Home” almost sidelines the action in favor of fun. It’s essentially a John Hughes-road trip-teen comedy that happens to feature a kid that can stick to walls. There’s a load of laugh-out-loud moments, and the teen romance between Peter and MJ is so damn cute that it borders on too precious.
While it takes a backseat at times to story, the action is still top notch. Director Jon Watts and cinematographer Matthew Lloyd keep it grounded and smaller in scope so that you’re right there with Peter the entire time, which only makes you feel closer to his character. It’s the rare movie that uses action as a way to advance story and characters.
Tomei, Favreau and Jackson are fantastic, which is to be expected. Jacob Batalon gets plenty of laughs as Peter’s best friend, Ned. Martin Starr and J.B. Smoove steal every second they are on screen as the teacher chaperones on the trip. Alas, “Far from Home” belongs to Gyllenhaal, Holland and Zendaya.
If you’ve wanted Gyllenhaal in a comic book movie, your wish is fulfilled, and he’s fantastic. There’s quite a bit of depth to the role, and he particularly excels in the second half of the movie. Gyllenhaal is a character actor in a movie star’s body, and “Far from Home” takes advantage of the former.
With all that being said, “Far From Home” works due to Holland and Zendaya. Their chemistry and timing is so pitch perfect that their budding romance overshadows every aspect of the movie. They’re essentially a teenage version of “When Harry Met Sally,” and anticipating them getting together is a blast. If “Endgame” was the epic conclusion to a huge chunk of Marvel movies, “Spider-Man: Far from Home” is a great beginning to another series.
It’s a road trip flick that is way funnier than you’d expect and cements Tom Holland as the face of Marvel Studios for the next decade.