Spider-Man: Far from Home is the sequel to 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming and the second Spider-Man movie since Marvel and Sony agreed to collaborate and bring their beloved wall crawler into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s also the first Marvel movie since Avengers: Endgame and as such it must broach those events, in what is essentially now a post-Avengers universe. Therefore, while you can enjoy Far from Home without prior knowledge, it goes without saying that if you’ve seen Endgame first you’ll get a bit more out of it.
No one knows their place anymore in the post-Endgame world. A world ripped asunder and then just as abruptly stitched back together again. Those destroyed, and subsequently restored at the hand of the Infinity Gauntlet, find themselves crammed back into a world that has mourned them for five years. It’s bound to mess a few people up.
Not least Peter Parker (Tom Holland), still grieving, but trying to get back to normality. That old ‘great power / great responsibility’ chestnut finds Spidey dealing with the huge pressures of being the public face of the Avengers – for all intents and purposes, now a one-man team. There’s also the matter of the wide public wanting to know one who it is that will take up a certain mantle following the previous film’s events. All Parker really wants to do is go on a school trip to Europe, where he can spend some quality time with MJ (Zendaya).
Unfortunately, nothing goes to plan for Peter Parker and thus he finds himself battling elemental monsters while on his summer hols, with the aid of a one-dimensional do-gooder by the name of Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). Of course, there’s much more to it, and certain plot developments lead to Spider-Man: Far from Home, unfortunately, becoming unstuck.
While the school trip sets the scene quite nicely, it takes way too long to get going. The Euro vacay is watchable enough, but you can’t quite shake the feeling that some of this stuff would be better left for the deleted scenes. The result is that this protracted holiday forces a key plot turn to take place well into the middle of the film. It also means we do not see Spider-Man in the iconic red and blue suit until very far in. And while Spidey does foil some bad guys wearing a black suit (for stealth purposes), it effectively means this is a Spider-Man movie without a proper “Spider-Man” for a large part of its run time.
It also doesn’t help matters that the main antagonistic force our hero has to take on towards the end, ends up being… faceless and techy (keeping plot details under wraps isn’t all that easy with this review). It makes for a pretty low-stakes finale and frankly, those things he’s fighting just aren’t all that exciting. Finally, Far from Home is topped off with two dreadful end credits sequences, both of which manage to undermine the movie in their own way.
Despite these shortcomings, Spider-Man: Far from Home does have some nice things going for it. Certain discombobulating illusions Spidey must face make for several weird, trippy, sequences where he’s fighting his own mind as much as anything tangible. Furthermore, the central performances are as good as ever. Gyllenhaal is good in a role that proves to be more layered than first presented, and Tom Holland continues to be an amiable presence. Yes, Holland is arguably the best Spider-Man yet. His struggles with living up to his responsibilities provide some of the best character moments in the film.
Among the side players: Tony Revolori is perfectly smug, once again, as Flash Thompson, and Silicon Valley’s Martin Starr as teacher Mr Harrington gets the best line in the whole movie when he relates the dark tale of his wife’s alleged death.
The post-Endgame MCU is an odd place. Spider-Man: Far from Home doesn’t feel like the start of a new era, nor does it feel like a standalone caper in the vein of Ant Man and the Wasp. Ironically, like Peter’s dilemma in the film, perhaps bearing the baggage of Endgame is too great a burden. This feels like a placeholder, like a movie stuck between chapters. It doesn’t do anything specifically wrong and it ticks all the trad Marvel movie boxes, but Far from Home is surprisingly unengaging and feels more than a little like it’s just building up to the next, better Spider-Man movie.
SCREEN REALM SCORE: ★★★☆☆
‘Spider-Man: Far from Home’ opened in Australian cinemas on July 1 and hit US cinemas on July 2.