Spider-Man: Far From Home is a highly entertaining blend of teen comedy and superhero movie

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4/5

 

I don’t hide my disdain for Marvel. I’ve repeatedly called them trite and boring and repetitive. As Martin Scorsese said in a recent New York Times article, “they are sequels in name but they are remakes in spirit.” And that has tended to be true. Every film by Marvel is more or less a rehashing of the previous film in a different way with different characters. And, admittedly, Spider-Man: Far From Home does not escape this rut. But unlike its predecessors, it does a remarkably fine job with its refreshingly teenager-y characterization.

The character of Spider-Man is very much a high school student. This seemed to get lost in all of the previous incarnations. The basis itself was the same, with Tobey Maguire playing a 17-18 year old. But neither he nor the director put in the effort to make the character seem that old, with Maguire being 27 around the time of the movie’s release- though Maguire does a pretty good job playing the character and will always remain the definitive version of Spider-Man. Far From Home– and, to a certain degree, Homecoming-captures the teen spirit of Spider-Man that we all know and love, without succumbing to tropes or forced relatability.

But, as I’ve said before, Marvel movies tend to be trite, and this movie is no exception. The film remains sorely grounded in the mire that is the highly predictable villain plot in this film. Admittedly, Gyllenhaal does a great job with what he has, but the twist was apparent from his costume alone. And, ultimately, I kept wishing to myself that the film would stick to its dramatic/romantic plot as the main plot of the movie. When Peter Parker hands his glasses off to Beck in the middle of the movie, I wished that the rest of the film would simply chronicle Parker’s attempts at wooing Mary Jane. But I digress. This is a Marvel movie after all, and they will stick to the formula that makes them money.

Speaking of money, this movie’s budget was $160 million. And it shows. All too often, Marvel lets subpar CGI into the theaters, through no fault of their own. They outsource their special effects, and often end up with awkward looking effects because of overworked VFX artists (though the color-grading cannot be offered the same excuse). However, some of the CGI is some of the best looking that the studio has offered thus far. As a matter of fact, the movie seemingly throws in a wonderful homage to the excellent work done by the artists by dressing Mysterio up when he’s behind the scenes of the holograms in an actual motion capture suit.

My biggest problem with this movie in particular that isn’t necessarily echoed by the MCU as a whole is the strength of individual scenes, but the weakness of the ties between them. Take, for instance, the scene in which Quentin Beck reveals himself to be a villain. It’s a very bold scene that opens with a 26-second long shot (a rarity in Marvel movies) and cuts to the chase immediately. It’s efficient, it’s in-your-face and it’s fun. But the scenes before it and after it are boring, slow scenes that aren’t very memorable. Now, it’s only natural for some scenes to outshine others, but the difference is so massive that it feels like night and day. One scene is purely expositional and, really only functions as an information dump, and yet it’s so overwhelmingly entertaining that it’s one of the most rewatchable scenes of the movie. The other two are obligatory scenes that feel like they’re there to put some forced emotions on the line. The stark contrast between a scene that absolutely shouldn’t work, but works and a scene that should work so well, but doesn’t, is disappointing.

Ultimately, I loved some aspects of Far From Home, but I really wish Marvel made a full-length feature film written by the writers on this film and with Tom Holland with absolutely no bearing on the MCU or any mention of superheroes. There’s a huge amount of talent in front of the camera and behind it, and I’d hate to see it squandered by a fad.

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