Culture

Film Corner with Njal Heddle: Spider-Man: Far From Home

FilmFar From Boring.

After the emotional climax to an entire era of storytelling with Avengers: Endgame, it seems only right that the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to follow it should be centred on what many fans know as the heart and soul of Marvel itself. Spider-Man has been through a lot since the millennium began, with three different Spideys taking their place on the silver screen, and each with their own devout followings. And indeed Spider-Man: Far From Home serves to be the best designated “Spider-Man 2” since… well, Spider-Man 2. Though it doesn’t quite reach that film’s monumental brilliance.

Following on from the events of Endgame, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) sets off with his school classmates on a well-deserved vacation. However, this is interrupted by the presence of the mysterious Elementals, and the even more mysterious ally Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). But things may not be as clear cut as they appear.

Spiderman Far From Home

Spider-Man: Far From Home at once offers up some of the finest moments the wallcrawler has yet been privy to, both dramatic and comedic, and feels a worthy follow-up to Marvel’s recent box-office monster. But as a film in itself, it suffers a bit more than previous efforts.

Spider-Man: Homecoming was a breath of fresh air for both Spider-Man films and the MCU, blending high-school theatrics and terrific characterisation with genuinely emotional themes with a smattering of the super-heroic. What made it great came from Holland’s Peter Parker, and how he realistically had to deal with the issues he approached, be they crime or social. Or both. The small number of huge set-pieces let the human aspect shine through, lending a fresh taste to the hero. Far From Home, however, ups the action and feels less like a follow-up to Homecoming, and more like yet another Marvel flick, albeit one with more likeable characters this time round.

Which there’s nothing wrong with. It is, after all, following up from one of the biggest movies all time, and deals with the aftermath of the events of said movie in-story quite well. But it is decidedly rougher around the edges than may be expected.

The brilliant quieter moments featuring the film’s characters are still there (an interesting development with Jacob Batalon’s Ned and Angourie Rice’s Betty offers some great banter/Martin Starr’s clueless teacher brings some of the best zingers in the film), which is a source of great relief, for they are indeed plentiful. And the action is still impressive for what it is, but when the characterisation is this good, who needs the big set-pieces? Each action sequence in Homecoming held an emotional reason for being there, and felt earned. But in Far From Home, it feels fairly shoehorned.

The story itself is an interesting one, testing Peter’s psyche to a great extent; With the world clamouring for a new Iron Man, Peter struggles with the weight of Stark’s death. His own self-confidence as Stark’s purported heir is shaken as his mistakes begin to pile up and weigh on him further. Its a lesson many of us may learn as we go on our journey; its important to make mistakes, but equally important to learn how to clean up the mess from them.

The highest point is, understandably, the cast. All brilliant. Holland continues to excel as Parker, visibly showing how shaken Peter is at his errors, and also how endearing he is when he succeeds. As Quentin Beck AKA Mysterio, Gyllenhaal brings an entertaining diversity to the role. At one point enigmatic idol, at another point poncey dickhead.¬†And indeed, Mysterio’s introduction offers some of the film’s highlights, with the film showering us with brilliant imagery, which the kids these days may refer to as “trippy”, which just about sets it on par with 2016’s Doctor Strange. Anyone with a knowledge of the character will no doubt guess the obvious twist with the character, but, as is common in the MCU, the manner in which it is executed offers an intriguing originality as to what one may be expecting.

However, that originality doesn’t cover it all. Even if not immersed in comic-lore, any audience member will likely guess the reveal due to the overtly rushed and theatrical nature of scenes involving the character. While this may be intentional, as a result, Mysterio is robbed of any depth and feels incredibly one-note at times when he certainly shouldn’t feel so.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is the middle child of “second Spider-Man films”, sitting proudly ahead of its risible “Amazing” instalment, but not ahead of Raimi’s seminal classic of the genre. But on its own merits, Far From Home offers some wholesome thrills and entertainment, as well as some fantastic character moments guaranteed to induce the odd belly-laugh. But for all the mixed bag the film is, the absolute standout comes in its mid-credits scene. Possibly Marvel’s most daring and effective yet, it promises much from Spidey’s next adventure. And damn it if you’re not excited for it by the time it rolls by.

VERDICT: 3/5

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