Arts

An action-packed Euro-adventure, ‘Far From Home’ competition vanishes into thin air

The second of the current series, "Spider-Man: Far From Home" is currently the fourth highest grossing movie of 2019. It is the third and final Marvel film of the year.

Image By: Sony Pictures

After the epic and emotional mega hit which was “Avengers: Endgame,” Marvel Cinematic Universe fans needed the next movie in the 23-film series to be a bit of an emotional pick me up. And a brand-new solo adventure featuring the one and only friendly neighborhood web slinger is exactly what was needed!

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” sprang into theaters on July 1, bringing back the millions of moviegoers who anxiously await each and every Marvel adventure.

Starring Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, “Far From Home” takes our beloved web head on a wild and unique journey – the likes of which we have never seen before on the big screen. Spectacular stunts and what can only be described as 60s psychedelic-level visuals add up to one crazy summer vacation.

Director Jon Watts returns to the franchise after helming the first installment, bringing back the perfect combination of comedy and calamity that was seen in “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (2017). Coaxing another top-notch performance out of Tom Holland as the title character, one can only hope and pray that Watts returns to direct any future projects in this current stream of Spider-Man films.

Acting as the official end of the MCU’s phase three, “Far From Home” ties up loose ends left open for exploration in the wake of the Infinity Saga, while also offering clues and foreshadowing of what we can expect in the future for our avenging Marvel heroes and heroines.

While “Endgame” has amassed the second highest grossing for a film in history, many have yet to see the epic and have been able to avoid spoilers. For those dedicated to waiting for the Blu-ray release, let this be a warning for you: spoilers will be revealed below. 

Rest easy knowing “Far from Home” will be an exciting and surprisingly refreshing next chapter after the fourth Avengers adventure.

Those of you who are in the know… read on.

Set eight months after “Endgame”, Peter Parker (Holland) returns to Midtown School of Science and Technology while attempting to distance himself from the loss of his mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), better known as Iron Man who sacrificed himself snapping away Thanos the Mad Titan (Josh Brolin) and his alien army using an all-powerful infinity gauntlet.

Peter and most of his classmates are forced to restart the school year they were in the middle of when Thanos’ snap in “Avengers: Infinity War” erased them from existence for a period of five years. With a school-planned summer trip to Europe, Peter is happy to spend a couple of weeks away from New York City — including his responsibilities as the web slinger. Hoping to finally share his true feelings for MJ (Zendaya) with her in a romantic European setting, the summer and future finally look brighter.

But new foes emerge, threatening to destroy the entire planet. Superpowered beings composed of the four elements of the Earth, as well as the sudden appearance of a brilliant, charismatic flying hero named Quentin Beck, also called Mysterio by the public (Jake Gyllenhaal), call into question just what leadership qualities Stark saw in Peter to begin with.

“Far From Home” is a story about trust as much as it is about deception and illusion. The recurring question in the movie dealing with the larger ramifications of Tony Stark’s sacrifice is who is going to be the world’s next Iron Man — a mantle that Peter is not sure he is worthy of.

Featuring appearances by longtime Marvel fan favorites like Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), Maria Hill (Colbie Smulders) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), “Far From Home” has the complete feel of an MCU film that we have come expect, blended with this terrific new take on Spider-Man and his own universe of characters.

Homage and comic book accurate references are important to a longtime fan of Marvel material like myself — predominantly a Spider-Man consumer since my impressionable younger years. This movie is a gold mine, filled with treasures which are clever nods and winks to the troves of Spidey fans both young and old.

Without spoiling anything, the clever twists in the film thought of by writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers are unexpected stunners for those unaware of Spider-Man lore. Those who are familiar will still be surprised by the turn of events, as well as the different directions taken regarding certain characters and plots from past Marvel stories.

Location was key to the consistent element of vacation felt throughout, lending credence to the idea that we are on a summer Euro-trip along with Peter and his classmates. Filming on location in England, the Czech Republic, Italy and of course New York City, the international flavor of the film is on par with many MCU films before it.

The cast itself is also wonderfully mixed, filled with the wide array of race and culture one could expect to see at a modern-day NYC high school.

Humor is used heavily, highlighted by another scene stealing performance from the likes of Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds. One of few people who are aware of Spider-Man’s secret identity, Batalon’s portrayal of Ned as the steadfast sidekick is anything but the corny comic relief role, reserved for actors who are racial minorities. 

Instead, it is another heartfelt real-life representation of two best friends who would do anything to protect and help one another. Holland and Batalon’s chemistry cannot be manufactured; it is sincere and one of the best parts of the current Spidey MCU series thus far.

Zendaya, in my mind, takes a massive step forward from her performance in “Homecoming”, both as an actor and likewise as the character of Michelle, known as MJ to her friends. It wasn’t a bad performance, but it left something to be desired as she was limited in her ability to explore her character.

As this series' version of the classic Spider-Man love interest Mary Jane Watson, some fans expressed displeasure with the initial casting of Zendaya. But she proved right away that Michelle is not Mary Jane. She is her own character.

The crafty reveal of her MJ nickname did lead the viewer to believe more was coming in a potential sequel. And wow… Zendaya did not disappoint this time around.

Again delivering a steady barrage of sarcastic barbs aimed at Peter and the rest of her classmates, MJ goes from the dark, possibly annoying pessimist that she was in the first film and begins to shine as a brilliant minded, fearless and loving character that is a great representation of the modern woman; much like Mary Jane Watson was a seemingly perfect representation for women of her time when she made her first comic book appearance in “The Amazing Spider-Man #42” (1966).

Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio was tied atop the list of best performances from “Far From Home”, along with Holland. Both invest their talents deeply into their roles, disappearing into them and truly becoming the characters who are so important to Marvel fans. 

As the first live-action appearance of Quentin Beck/Mysterio, Gyllenhaal perfectly captures the essence of the character, taking the audience on a wild ride littered with unraveling mysteries adequately suited for a man named Mysterio.

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” is a step up from its predecessor. Tom Holland has solidified himself as the best live-action incarnation of Spider-Man to date. His kind-hearted and curious nature perfectly suit the likes of Peter Parker, while his quick wit and remarkable dedication to physical training are fitting for that of a hero like Spidey.

While the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe remains shrouded in mystery, one thing is for sure: if Marvel Studios is smart, they will heavily feature Spider-Man in their future films.

"Far From Home" is easily one of the best MCU movies to date.

Oh… and as always, stay for the post credit scenes! You will not be disappointed.

Final Grade: A+ 


John Everman is an arts editor for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of his work, click here.

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