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TAS Reviews: Spider-Man: Far From Home

TAS Reviews: Spider-Man: Far From Home

There's a lot of pressure for Far From Home to be more than just another MCU movie. Not only is it the next chapter of the MCU - it's the first chapter in the MCU since Endgame. A movie that, for all intents and purposes, was the conclusion to the 22-film arc in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A lot of people are curious where Kevin Fiege and the rest of the team at Marvel Studios will take the MCU next, and for a lot of people, Far From Home is an opportunity to show that there's still reason to be invested in this franchise following Endgame.

With Far From Home, director Jon Watts and Kevin Fiege have accomplished this with flying colours, delivered on one of the finest films in the entire 23-film run of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's difficult to believe, but the best thing about FFH is this: it doesn't overwhelm audiences with set-ups and teases for future films to earn their investment in future films. It's confident enough in it's quality, delivering on a satisfying standalone movie that ranks amongst the best of the superhero genre.

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FFH's greatest strength is it's focus on character. It explores the conflict between wanting to live a normal life, and the sense of responsibility that defines most heroes. It allows the movie to further explore what makes the character of Spider-Man special to most people, and what makes this particular iteration of Spider-Man so unique. Peter isn't as certain of himself as most heroes. Flawed, unsure of himself, but at the end of the day, optimistic and well meaning: Peter is a deeply humane character, and it's this movie's exploration of character that makes for such an engaging, endearing and often emotional story. You can't talk about emotional and endearing without mentioning Tom Holland, who is as great as ever as Peter Parker. Holland gives yet another charismatic and likeable performance, and balances this charisma with the sense of sensitivity and vulnerability that makes his performance as Peter Parker so great.

The best MCU films are an amalgamation. The Winter Soldier is not just a generic superhero. It's a meld of traditional action movie, political thriller, and a character study of Steve comes to grips with a world different than the one he saved decades ago. Homecoming was more of a traditional superhero movie, but includes elements of teen comedy. Similarly, FFH delivers on the action expected from a movie of this scale, while delivering on the comedy that is a staple of the franchise. Like virtually every movie, not every joke lands, but it's one of the funnier movies in the franchise.

The romance in this movie is not merely an afterthought, and takes up a decent amount of screentime and significance. The movie has a damn good romantic lead in MJ, played by Zendaya. I found her character quite unlikeable in Homecoming, but this movie does a great job taking a character that was merely a one-note gag and fleshing her out as a character. Zendaya's chemistry with Holland feels authentic and endearing, and there's something innocent and adolescent about their relationship that makes the pair so cute and easy to root for.

The action in FFH is not only a significant improvement on Homecoming. It delivers on some of the most creative, kinetic action in the franchise. One of the MCU's biggest criticisms is uninventive cinematography, and although FFH is not a radical reinvention: it features some of the most lively, creative cinematography in the MCU. For instance, it delivers on the swinging that was absent from Homecoming, doing so with POV shots that felt delightfully unique within the franchise. That's just one example of how the cinematography in this movie gives it a sense of personality and identity.

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A lot of people anticipated Mysterio's portrayal in the movie, and how Jake Gyllenhall would perform as the character. Gyllenhall turns in the single finest performance in the history of the MCU. From the moment he appears, Gyllenhall commands the screen with charisma, but there's always a sense his charisma is merely a facade. You can tell there's something bubbling beneath the surface, and it's that sense of ingenuity that makes his performance so captivating. It makes every scene with him, even a simple conversation, feel suspenseful and dishonest. Without revealing too much, when the curtains are lifted, it is executed with every bit of theatricality that one could hope. The movie features the best MCU villain not named Thanos. You will hate the villain, and just when you believe things are going right for the heroes, the filmmakers pull the rug from under you. It makes for a rollercoaster of a movie experience, and makes the antagonist feel like a genuine threat.

If I had one complaint about FFH, it would be that Peter's character arc in the movie isn't as strong as his arc in Homecoming. Though the movie does a wonderful job exploring Peter as a character, the impetus for his growth wasn't as strong as it was in this movie. For example, Peter's growth in Homecoming was a result of Tony taking the suit from Peter and leaving him to his own devices and Peter coming to terms with his own internal strength in the rubble scene. On the other hand, the reason for Peter's growth in this movie doesn't feel quite as well-defined.

Conclusion

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Spider-Man: Far From Home is an utter triumph, delivering on the laughs and action that have become a signature of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while including enough twists along the way to create a thoroughly familiar, yet delightfully surprising experience. The movie features a strong hero, a fantastic antagonist, and some of the most unique cinematography in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To top it off, the movie has an after-credits scene that literally made my jaw drop, and is a work of art if ever there was one. FFH is not only a great movie: it's my favourite movie of the year so far, a top 5 (maybe top 3) MCU movie, and perhaps the best Spider-Man movie ever made. Go see it.

Score: 9.5/10

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