The second instalment of the new Spidey saga was in its second week when my friend and I checked it out at Burwood yesterday. Far from Home had great hype, with sky-high reviews and audience numbers across the board. I did not catch Homecoming in the cinemas, as I was getting ready for the snow trip. I watched it a little later instead. Missing the latter was a shame since I believe it was a much more polished film than this one. The first film was a coming of age tale with Peter Parker (Tom Holland) only just discovering his great power and responsibility. This one was nowhere near as well-proportioned as Spider-Man 2 (2004), which my pal deems the best one overall. Brace yourself for a spoiler-free Spidey review.
Don’t get me wrong, this instalment is a good blockbuster that has its moments. However, things have become a bit redundant and predictable, something to be expected since this is the seventh Spidey film overall. In particular, saving his friends and loved ones against evil demons is banal. The piece does introduce a new baddie, Mysterio, one of the few novel concepts in an increasingly ageing franchise. With his use of illusions and drones, the latter is more Matrix than Marvel opponent. He uses his savviness in recruiting a bunch of outcasts to his fold, vowing to nab Parker and friends once and for all. He has the element of surprise.
Finding a new set for Spidey was a boon. As seen in the trailer, Peter and his classmates head to Europe, where Parker seeks to win Mary Jane’s affections. Peter’s attempts repeatedly get sidetracked or shot down, which keeps us rapt till the end. Europe provides some dainty shots, from the London Bridge to a Dutch tulip field and a fair in Prague. As a side note, Venice wasn’t portrayed very well. Spidey has evolved from merely your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman who fights villains in Gotham. My bud was reminded of his recent stop at London as we took in the Bridge. Before our viewing, he told me that he found the title ironic. Tom Holland is from the UK, which means he’s actually coming home.
Doubt remains a key component in this one, as in the past. While being groomed to save the world, Peter keeps questioning himself, keeps asking whether he is good enough. As his boss, Nick Fury, gives him his orders, Parker struggles to balance his teenage dreams with his Spidey aims. Like in all prior editions, he has to choose: MJ or saving the day; love or the cause. Zendaya plays MJ well, and as my friend noted, is about the same age as Holland. They make a cute couple. He likewise said that Holland is his ideal Spidey, since he could pass off as a teenager. Parker’s life in this edition is something we have all come to know. The nerdy adolescent who couldn’t give MJ his pendant or speak out to his classmates, but who ends up donning his Spidey suit and swings across buildings. As usual, he gets the unstinting loyalty of his friends throughout, something that greatly aids his fight. Will he win her heart? More importantly, can he do this without revealing his alter ego?
Spidey is obviously an action flick, but I argue that it has elements of dramedy. While not as drama-heavy as Avengers: Endgame, Far from Home has spurts of theatrics. In general, though, the film was light-hearted like other Marvel pictures. There are also mid- and end-credit scenes that are worth a look. The film’s plot may be cliché but one that proceeds from Endgame and the blip event, something that has curious consequences the world over. These changes are apparent even in Parker’s class, which becomes a microcosm. Jake Gyllenhaal is also solid as Mysterio. Speaking of which, my friend thought it reminded him of his other performance: Prince of Persia. We had seen that movie together. When asked if he’ll see the next Spidey sequel, he said he will. I didn’t feel a similar pull. Personally, they’ve ridden this horse as far as they could.