The first half of Spider-Man: Far from Home is dreadful, like a spoof of the worst superhero movies ever, including those Marvel movies where cities are destroyed by CGI at the hands of stupid villain(s) — in this case, The Elementals — and we’re all supposed to believe this can happen because someone like Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) explains it all from an officious Command Center.
And then there’s Mysterio himself, another one of those exhausting Captain Marvel-Doctor Strange types whose tedious superpower is the ability to shoot light out of their hands; light that looks cool and does all this boring stuff to keep the battle going until one of those lights finally wins the day and you wonder why they didn’t use that specific light to begin with.
I mean… If you have the power to protect yourself within a dome of light this giant creature is unable to penetrate, why not create a dome of light around the creature to capture it?
You see what I’m getting at?
I hated the first half of Far From Home and was ready to walk out, when…
Well, I’m not going to ruin it, but the movie takes a nifty (and audacious) turn and improves dramatically.
Far From Home is the first Marvel entry (Sony still owns the Spider-Man character and co-produced) to show us the post-Endgame world. Eight months have passed since those events, including the death of you-know-who, and while the world is still talking about what they call the “Blip” — that time when half the population turned to ash in a snap and reappeared five years later — everyone is starting to move on with their lives.
And so, even though five full years have passed within the Marvel Universe, Peter Parker aka Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is still 16, and luckily for him, so is his high school crush M.J. (Zendaya), and best pal Ned (Jacob Batalon).
I’m not sure if Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) disappeared for five years or not, all I know is that she can still fill out a pair of blue jeans like something out of a dream and that Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is one lucky bastard.
Where was I?
Because he’s a kid with a serious crush, all Peter wants is to tell M.J. how he feels in the hope she will reveal she feels the same, which means… Well, remember that kid who was so eager to be an Avenger? Now he’s all been there, done that, and not so much anymore. What Peter wants now is a break from saving the world, the opportunity to be a carefree kid again, and the girl — he really wants to win that girl.
A summer vacation to Europe with his classmates is the perfect opportunity to take this break and put his romantic plans into action, and it is here where the movie enters Clark Kent/John Hughes territory as Peter must protect his secret identity while going into action; where Peter is awkward and unsure of himself when dealing with a strong female ala Lois Lane; where his sweetness and innocence are undone by all those high school touchstones like jerky jocks, clueless teachers, and hormones.
A big problem with this storyline, though, is M.J., who is all kinds of woke, defensive, smug, and endlessly unappealing. What Peter sees in this joyless harridan-with-training-wheels is beyond my comprehension.
Holland, as you already know, is very appealing as Peter and it would be nice to see him hook up with a girl who doesn’t want to put his penis in a jar and burn it with her bra while she’s out cheating on him with another woman.
All was forgiven, though, when the movie portrayed BuzzFeed as publishing some fake news, which got knowing laughter in my theater, as did another sarcastic line about how “the news never lies.”
The news media is officially a national in-joke, y’all; BuzzFeed is a laugh line, y’all — proof that God does indeed love us.
Far From Home is an entertaining time-killer that feels more like a sequel-sequel than any other Marvel sequel. What I mean is that this sequel ran in place a lot, didn’t seem to be building towards something bigger, towards an Avengers-style blow-out. This was especially apparent in the first post-credits scene, which offers a nice little tribute to the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy, but also promises a sequel I have no interest in sitting through.
The second post-credits scene is a little more expansive but also cryptic.
To be fair, though, some track is laid for rebuilding the Avengers, especially as it pertains to where Peter will fit into what Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) hopes to create.
Far From Home can’t touch Tobey Maguire’s first two movies or Holland’s own terrific Spider-Man: Homecoming, but for a mindless summer movie this will do….
And what could be more patriotic over this 4th of July than mocking the fake news media?
God bless America.