“Far From Home” hits closer to home than title suggests

I think I was about 5 years old when I got my first Spider-Man action figure. Being far too young to watch the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire films, I made my own Spidey adventures in my head. Spiraling adventures that weren’t limited by CGI or budgets, but ones that reflected my life, what I would envision my life would be like if I could be Spider-Man. 

While these dream-like superhero fantasies may never be a reality (which only my 5-year-old self would be shocked to hear), “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is about as close as I, and every other viewer, will get to visually manifesting these childhood anecdotes. 

Released at the perfect time, “Far From Home” acts as a necessary upper after the downer that was the finale of “Avengers: Endgame,” one of massive stakes and (supposedly) surprising moments that left many Marvel fans wiping tears tenfold. I felt like the only soul in the universe who was criminally underwhelmed by the over-stuffed three-hour end to the “Avengers” series, with its lack of focus and emphasis on explaining rules of the universe that would end up being broken not being enough to make such a long ride worthwhile. 

Luckily for me, “Far From Home” continues the trend that “Homecoming” set forth that contrasts the most acclaimed Marvel and DC films: a light-hearted tone. It’s nice to get a reminder that audiences flock to Marvel films to experience the escapism that such a vastly creative meta reflection on our reality can provide. The newest entry in the Spidey franchise knows this, and proceeds to take you on a reasonably timed two-hour journey of a kid with superpowers that is struggling to find the middle ground between living out his adolescent life and taking care of his responsibilities, which just happen to be saving the world. He’s really just like the rest of us, when you think about it.

The film chronicles–you guessed it–Peter Parker. He’s going on a much-anticipated school trip to Europe for the summer, with his primary goal being to express his lovey-dovey, inexperienced admiration for MJ, being played pitch-perfectly by Zendaya. Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) has seemed to take the father-figure position that Tony Stark used to fill for Parker, with this once distantly budding relationship blooming and giving the film more heart than it already had. But of course, turmoil boils up as mysteriously mythological figures attack pretty much anywhere Parker is at. No worries though, as newcomer Mysterio is there to help, with Spider-Man having to take on more summer responsibilities than he thought. Mysterio and Parker team up to take on these figures, which are more ambiguous than expected.

The linear plot line gives writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers a playground to swing hit-or-miss (but mostly hard-hitting) jokes, appropriately placed fan service and a non-linear take on the MCU, one that prefers light-hearted banter and wonderfully joyous character dynamics that grounds the film closer to our reality than any other Marvel movie. These character dynamics are the true bread-and-butter of the film. Peter, his hilariously diverse yet closely-knit classmates, Aunt May, Happy Hogan, Nick Fury and the rest of the lovably witty cast make this sci-fi romp feel much closer to home than the film’s title suggests.

With every Marvel film, one of the main draws for most audiences are the action scenes, which director Jon Watts and the perpetually impressive effects team excel at, with Holland’s innate skills in dancing and theatre making his web-slinging, body-flailing, acrobatic Spidey moments so satisfying to watch. The CGI and star-studded cast often obscure the subtly stunning staging and choreography, with the latter being so integral to these adventurous scenes that are fittingly scattered throughout the film, providing an equally fitting pace that balances these action and dialogue scenes with the acute perfection of a Cirque du Soleil performer. 

“Far From Home” uniquely plays with the idea of CGI being not only realistically uncanny, but sometimes elusive. This makes the whole concept of all of the Marvel films being infused with CGI much more apparent to keen audiences, and ties this idea into reality with how deceptive contemporary media can be. An unexpectedly introspective piece of commentary that is just an extra bonus for those paying attention, with every other bit of comedy, action, and character encounters being center stage, and rightfully so. 

With “Far From Home” closing out the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s third phase, it can be a conflicting moment: the last grasp of gleeful giddyness that comes from watching Tom Holland’s Peter Parker be the true Spider-Man that I envisioned as a child. He embodies all of the character’s necessary intricacies, but adds his own flare of awkwardly adorable innocence matched with selfless heroism, proving his fifth appearance in the Marvel films to be his most potent one yet. You can really tell that Holland and the rest of the cast love being on set, with this enjoyment only beaten by my own that I experienced, one that left an irreversible smile on my face from start to finish. The nostalgia effect is strong with this one, as my main gripe with the film right when it ended being the fact that it did not come out when I was a young, imaginative kid. A kid that dreams to one day be Spider-Man, with Tom Holland more than successfully filling this role.