The latest Spider-Man movie is being examined by a person who admits she’s mostly a stranger in the Marvel Universe.
Here I am, once again reviewing a movie in a genre I don’t know much about. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is the latest installment from Marvel Studios and I have only seen a few Avenger movies. But perhaps this makes me the perfect lab rat to test whether this movie is strong enough to stand on its own or if it’s full of weak storytelling that has to lean on the whole franchise for support.
This does seem to be one Avenger movie that focuses more on the characters and their everyday struggles than on overly-long and loud action sequences. Tom Holland as the young Spider-Man is more concerned with normal teenager stuff than he is with superhero stuff. If fact, he’s really annoyed that the superhero stuff keeps getting in the way of the normal stuff, like telling MJ he had a crush on her. Holland and Zendaya, who plays MJ, are awkward, quirky and winsome.
But I do have some issues with the movie and Marvel in general. First of all, it’s hard to get into a movie about all-powerful beings. You know who’s going to win. I like a little more vulnerability and complexity in my main characters. But this is where Spider-Man actually succeeds better than the rest of the franchise. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He makes typical foolish teenage mistakes, but because he’s Spider-Man, those mistakes may cost lives or even have global implications. Navigating that is pretty complex and Holland’s Spider-Man is the essence of vulnerability.
I did find some sloppy elements. Such as the bits that are from the other movies. Like the Blip. Without seeing the other movies, I get the general idea of what the Blip was, but not its importance in this story. If felt like an incongruent… blip. And when Mysterio, played by Jake Gyllenhall (who’s also rather winsome,) arrives and announces that he’s from another version of earth—that instead of one universe there’s actually a multiverse with many dimensions, no one seems blown away by this. It seems like a pretty big revelation to me, but Spider-Man is like, “Oh. Are we done? I’ve got to get back to MJ.”
And yes, the action sequences are overblown and improbable, but overall, I found the movie does make a pleasant summer diversion because of its core storytelling.
If you want to hear from someone who actually is well versed in all things Marvel, you can listen to a conversation I had with KPCW reporter Emily Means here.
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and some language. It was directed by Jon Watts and runs 2 hours and 9 minutes.