Spider-Man: Far From Home, 2019.
Directed by Jon Watts.
Starring Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zendaya, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, Jon Favreau, Tony Revolori, Martin Starr, J.B. Smoove, Remy Hil, Numan Acar, Hemky Madera, Toni Garrn, and Marisa Tomei.
The post-Avengers: Endgame era of the MCU continues with Spider-Man: Far From Home, in which Peter Parker and his high school friends encounter Mysterio and the Elementals during a European vacation.
I appreciated the fact that when Disney and Sony struck a deal to bring Spider-Man into the MCU fold, Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal, and the other powers-that-be decided not to retell the character’s origin story for the millionth time and not to rely on overused villains like Green Goblin. Everyone knows Spidey’s basic back story and his main arch-nemesis, so let’s jump straight into some adventures with lesser-known characters, right?
Far From Home, the second Spider-Man MCU movie, takes place after the events in Avengers: Endgame. Peter Parker’s school, Midtown High, is dealing with the fact that part of its student body reappeared several months earlier, including Parker. After the school year winds down, many of the students go on a two-week trip to Europe with some of their teachers. It’s a nice change of pace to take Spider-Man out of his usual New York City scenery and let him see a bit of the world, something he’s done many times in the comic books.
Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a movie if all Parker did was enjoy the scenery, or if it lapsed into a foreign film plot about the ennui of being a teenager, and soon his European vacation is turned upside-down by the appearance of one of the Elementals, along with Mysterio, who’s not quite what he seems. Meanwhile, Peter’s attraction to MJ (Mary Jane) starts to blossom and his well-known high school nemesis, “Flash” Thompson, treats him with disdain while showing appreciation for Spider-Man’s exploits. There are a few moments where we get to appreciate what a butthead Flash is without the story resorting to a cliché like having him spill food on his shirt.
Nick Fury and fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill help move the plot along too, since they’ve been tracking the Elementals since they encountered one of them in Mexico at the beginning of the film. (The film’s biggest twist is a post-credits scene that involves them, but I won’t spoil the surprise.) Peter has plenty of other things he’d rather do than deal with S.H.I.E.L.D., including enjoying his trip, but since Tony Stark made him an Avenger, any sense of normalcy in his life has gone out the window.
After the huge build-up to Endgame and the swirl of emotions that poured out of that film, Far From Home is the perfect denouement, in a sense. Sure, it has big battles and plenty of “I hope those overworked CGI artists were paid really well for this” moments, but there are many nice character bits too. After all, it wouldn’t be a Spider-Man film if our hero wasn’t wondering if MJ likes him too, or trying to figure out how to juggle a dual-identity lifestyle at such a young age.
The film’s other big twist comes in a mid-credits scene with J.K. Simmons reprising his J. Jonah Jameson role. I feel like that moment should have been part of the main story, especially considering the rote nature of the film’s plot. It’s not a bad story, but it doesn’t really pack any big surprises. It’s a film that ultimately feels like it moves Spider-Man’s story in an incremental way, rather than landing on a big milestone in his life. Then again, not every superhero movie can do that.
This home video release features the film on Blu-ray and DVD discs, along with a code for a digital copy that also includes the bonus materials. The extras are a bit of a phoned-in effort, without a commentary or meaty documentary that usually make the MCU movies worth owning on home video. They include:
- Six minutes of deleted and alternate scenes: Nothing exciting here, but fans will appreciate this.
- Peter’s To-Do List: This is actually a deleted scene disguised as a 3-minute short featuring Peter getting ready for his trip while tying up some loose ends among New York City’s criminal element.
- Teachers’ Travel Tips: Another bit of disguised deleted footage, this nearly 5-minute piece has the two teacher chaperones fumbling their way around Europe. I know Martin Starr’s character is from the comic books, but I would have loved to see him play a teacher who’s similar to his character on the HBO show Silicon Valley. After all, bumbling teachers are a bit of a cliché these days.
- Gag reel and outtakes (3.5 minutes): These are what’s advertised.
- The Jump Off (6 minutes): A look at Tom Holland’s physical skills as well as the stunt work. A good amount of that stuff was actually done practically, as opposed to in a computer.
- Stepping Up (3.75 minutes): A quick rundown of where Peter Parker has been in the MCU and where he’s going in this film.
- Suit Up (4.5 minutes): One of the best bits of the movie for comic book fans was seeing the various Spidey suits, and they’re discussed here.
- Now You See Me (6.5 minutes): A discussion of Quentin Beck/Mysterio, played by Jake Gyllenhaal.
- Far, Far, Far From Home (5 minutes): A review of the movie’s European locations.
- It Takes Two (3 minutes): This was Jon Watts’ second time directing a Spidey film, so this quick piece discusses that.
- Fury and Hill (3.5 minutes): A look at the movie’s two SHIELD agents.
- The Ginter-Riva Effect (1.5 minutes): Eagle-eyed fans spotted scientist William Ginter-Riva from 2008’s Iron Man – he’s discussed here.
- Thank You, Mrs. Parker (3.5 minutes): One of the things I love about the MCU is how they’ve been willing to shake up preconceived notions, starting with Samuel L. Jackson playing Nick Fury. Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May is another example of that, and she’s discussed in this piece.
- Stealthy Easter Eggs (4.5 minutes): Like Pixar’s movies, the MCU loves to put all kinds of nods in its films. This one has, among other things, nods to comic book writers and artists who have worked on Spider-Man. All of that is covered here.
- The Brothers Trust (11.75 minutes): The longest featurette talks about Tom Holland’s charity. On one hand, I deeply appreciate charitable works. On the other hand, I wish more time had been put into the making-of stuff.
- Select scene pre-visuals (8 minutes): Five CGI-laden scenes are shown with their CG animatics, so you can see where the filmmakers started and where they ended up.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★