European landmarks are destroyed, how sacrilege, as Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and his classmates go on a school trip to Prague, Venice, London and Paris. The result is, possibly, the worst Spider-Man movie ever released.
“Far From Home,” the second installment in the latest live-action Spider-Man reboot really wants to be an MCU “European Vacation” but is continuously bogged down by the familiar narrative beats that come in being, you know, part of the MCU. Taking place in a post ’Endgame’ world, where Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark is gone and Spidey has to contend withbeing the new leader of the Avengers, this latest MCU movie cannot replicate the visual magic of last year’s animated romp “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”
“Far From Home” kicks off with an unmotivated Parker, just wanting to relax after the exhaustive ‘Endgame’ events. At school, he has a major crush on MJ (Zendaya) and at home he has to contend with the fact that his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) may be romantically involved with Stark sideman Happy (a playful Jon Favreau). At the same time, Happy warns Parker to answer calls from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who needs him for yet another mission. However, much like myself, Parker is Marvel-ed out and just wants to relax, refusing to answer Fury’s calls.
This all eventually leads to Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), a wannabe superhero that purposely stages scenes of destruction, for him to then save the day and reap the benefits of inching closer to his ultimate goal of becoming an Avenger. Gyllenhaal, making the best of a too-obviously-written role, is solid here, but it’s quite clear that the over-the-top Marvel-friendly theatrics just aren’t up to his standards.
Similarly coming up short is the screenplay courtesy of Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, which can, at times, be agreeably derivative but ultimately falls short of the charms needed to carry this story forward. The dialogue feels forced, what with its faux-meta nature and snark. Also, the smarty-pants humor here is almost too annoyingly conceived to win you over, which then has its director Tom Watts (“Cop Car”) trying to compensate those flaws with action sequences filled with over-the-top FX-overload. Oy, vey.
“Far From Home” is meant to be the movie that matures Peter Parker in order to carry the MCU forward, after all, as the movie acknowledges, he was chosen by Stark to be the leader of the whole enterprise — major responsibility for such scrawny shoulders. But even with the ambitious European setting, this movie feels like an afterthought, especially after the carefully conceived and ambitious “Endgame.” Are the MCU and Marvel Head Kevin Feige struggling to find an identity to carry the brand forward? Who knows, but “Far From Home” barely gives us anything to look forward to for the next phase. [C]