[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]hank the Lord. Finally, screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers breathe new life into Spider-Man’s narrative. Following the events of Endgame Peter Parker becomes the heir to Tony Stark’s superhero legacy. As amazing as that sounds, the teenage web-slinger has other plans. During an overseas science class trip, Parker decides it’s time to profess his love for his classmate MJ (played by Zendaya). This general plot organically progresses throughout the film. Despite my indifference toward its predecessor, Far from Home delivers a cohesive viewing experience. Simply put, it isn’t painfully predictable! A-lister Jake Gyllenhaal lends a believable performance as Mysterio, one of Spidey’s most potent villains. I gotta be honest, though. When I first saw this trailer, seeing Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio bothered me. Other than Nightcrawler he typically plays nice-guy roles. However, this was a mindful marketing game that now I am quite happy about.
This was a refreshing accomplishment for Far from Home’s production and writing teams. They used Jake’s friendly image to place us in Peter Parker’s perspective. Gyllenhaal plays Quentin Beck, a charming, mystical hero from another version of Earth. Usually I don’t like when films use actors as plot decoys. Yet Beck’s character reveal wasn’t a third-act plot twist. So it felt relatively natural. For an example of how not to pull this off, go watch The Tourist with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. It is one of the rare films I would give a zero out of ten. Alas, that’s another rant for another day. Moving on — during his science trip Nick Fury desperately attempts to contact Spidey. Parker ducks his calls again and again until finally Fury takes matters into his own hands. As he often does. He informs Peter that there is an imminent threat to humanity.
Because, well, of course there is. Alongside Beck he takes down behemoth elemental monsters from another universe. Following their initial victory, Beck tells Peter these monsters were responsible for killing his family. By the halfway mark, you start feeling like maybe Mysterio really isn’t all that bad. . . Nope! He’s still a piece of shit. Just a clever one. He tricks young Peter into handing over priceless tech that Tony Stark bequeathed to him. Beck looks to get his revenge on the late Avenger’s arrogance to ultimately become the world’s most renowned superhero. That’s where I’ll end the spoilers. Thematically, this film touches on the gullibility of modern mankind. What we see is what we believe. Mysterio makes a case, via hi-tech holograms, that the overload of information and imagery we absorb on a daily basis molds and manipulates our behavior. I tend to agree. That is the importance of film.
Although there is some dull, on-the-nose dialogue in Far from Home, it gets its point across just fine in my book. Like Spider-Man, trouble finds its way to us no matter how far we try to run from our issues. For a special teenager like Peter, saving the world is pretty much a nuisance. I mean, shooting webs is dope and all, but what about dinner dates, weekend parties, study groups? Spider-Man ain’t got time for stuff like that. He has to carry a burden few grown men ever could. Nevertheless, he overcomes his weaknesses by clearing his mind of self-doubt. That is the only thing that stops any of us from achieving our goals, after all. The illusion fight scene with Mysterio is something to look forward to near the end of the film. It’s why Mysterio is my favorite Spidey villain. Dude is one giant mind fuck.
His “power” fascinates me. The mind is either a treasure or a weapon. We all must decide for ourselves. In terms of filmmaking technique, cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd does a good job for the most part. However, the action shots aren’t as striking as this film’s predecessor. The effects and production design make up for it nonetheless. Especially the flower garden backdrop. That shit was divine. Even if it only appeared briefly, a quick burst of color never hurt nobody. While Far from Home likely will not end up on many year-end lists, it has a cozy allure to it that invites multiple viewings. I can’t say that about Homecoming, in spite of Michael Keaton’s entertaining performance. I won’t be paying top dollar again for this movie, but I’d certainly watch it again with friends for a discount or on TV. It’s the best Webslinger flick since Raimi’s Spider-Man 2.
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