I wish I could sit here and tell you that I love this movie as much as everybody else does. But…
To be fair, there is lots of stuff that works here. The movie does a great job at introducing us to a post-Endgame world, hilariously and realistically showing us the aftermath of the snap through the perspectives of normal teenagers. The action here is also some of the best Spider-Man action we’ve ever seen, featuring a couple of dizzying shots that I need downloaded as a GIF immediately. And the post-credit scenes? You can sure bet I freaked out. But the big draw here is Tom Holland continuing to prove himself as the best incarnation of Spider-Man. He brings a youthful energy and quirkiness to the character that radiates in every scene, and his chemistry with Zendaya as MJ is so charming and different from previous on-screen variations that it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the movie. Holland also shines when he shares the screen with Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, providing a neat twist on the Tony Stark mentor figure.
But as for Mysterio as a whole…I don’t know how I feel. Mysterio has always been my favorite character in Spider-Man video games and comic books (heck, I have a poster of Spider-Man with Mysterio in my room), so I’m definitely viewing him through a different lens than most people watching the movie. It’s clear that Gyllenhaal is having a total blast playing the character, and the movie embraces the bizarrity of his illusions in a way which results in some mind-blowing visuals and one of my favorite scenes in the entire MCU. I have to dodge my way around spoilers, but I just feel like when it came to his actual depth as a character, everything was pretty weak and basically just amounted to a combination of two prior MCU characters. Everything is there in terms of capturing the visuals and spirit of Mysterio, but when it comes to integrating him within the movie itself, it just felt a bit contrived. But he was still really cool! I’m just not sure exactly how I feel.
His contrived inclusion speaks to my bigger issue with the movie as a whole. Spider-Man stories are at their best when they’re about Peter Parker balancing his secret identity with his personal life, but Spider-Man: Far From Home has so much going on that Peter’s relationships with his classmates kinda feels more like an afterthought in the movie’s last hour. I’ve seen people lament the movie’s first hour for being slow, but it was honestly my favorite part of the movie just because it gave me the grounded simplicity that made Spider-Man: Homecoming work so well. I think it was a smart decision by Jon Watts to raise the scale and have Spider-Man leave New York, but that can’t be at the expense of the heart of the movie, and the second half of the movie too often is; the superhero conflicts just don’t intertwine with Peter’s personal conflicts as well.
This is an extremely entertaining Spider-Man movie, but this is also a bigger Spider-Man movie, which unfortunately results in it being a messier one, too. I have no doubt you can go watch it and shove popcorn in your face all while laughing and freaking out over some amazing moments, but make no illusion about it: the movie gets caught up in its own web along the way.