In a post-Avengers: Endgame world, the only thing left standing between audiences and the end of a wondrous Phase 3 is a familiar visitor from a friendly neighborhood. After a well-received first (solo) outing in Homecoming, the stage is set for the training wheels to come off, and our main hero begin to fully realize the breadth of their character during this sophomore outing.
I feel like I shouldn't have to disclose that you'll need to watch Endgame before seeing Far From Home for fear of spoilers, but if you really only care about just Spider-Man and his individual adventures without the greater context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then by all means.
Right off the bat, I'll come right out and say that although I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, it's littered with unnecessary extras and lacks polish in areas I wasn't expecting. Let's start with what worked well.
If you've seen any trailer footage of Far From Home, Mysterio looks every bit as impressive as he does in the promotional material. The CG during the, let's say "outdoor" sequences is, by Marvel standards, about as good as it comes. The sheer fact that we're able to see the full aesthetic of Mysterio on-screen—fishbowl helmet, green pixie dust and all—is nothing short of phenomenal. While other studios frantically rush to adapt superheroes to a more realistic aesthetic, Marvel leaned in hard to the comic book look and it paid of wonderfully.
However, when it comes to most of the, we'll say "non-outdoor" Mysterio sequences, they become just "fine" as opposed to awe-inspiring. The CG drops from extremely impressive to just serviceable video game quality. Video games are great, don't get me wrong, but it's visually jarring to go from nearly imperceptible photo-realism to that of just decent CG. This wouldn't be an issue for most other movie studios, but it's worth a mention in this instance. Anywho, back to what worked. At times, the Mysterio scenes surpassed that of Doctor Strange when it came to comparing mind-melding psychedelic imagery. However, it was quite a bit easier to grasp since it felt visually like less of a kaleidoscopic, hallucinatory drug trip over that of deceived perception.
Spider-Man himself looks both better and worse than he has in the past. The new costume designs and practicality are a welcomed addition to that of his somewhat vanilla Homecoming suit. Like Mysterio, his best (visual) moments come via the outdoors whether it be during stormy overcast or entanglements at night. How his movements are rendered this time around are also a decent upgrade over how he's moved in previous outings. Spidey swings, zips and flips with effortless motions that feels grounded (enough) in realism, and mostly avoids coming off as weirdly spring-y and rubber-like.
Now, onto the mixed bag.
While Jake Gyllenhaal's delivery of Mysterio is often top notch, the dialogue ranges from slightly hokey to decently serviceable; an even split that, to me, leans half empty as opposed to half full. It's more than evident that Gyllenhaal put forth a great effort into bringing to life one of Spider-Man's most kooky villains, but as I've always said, you can't out-act bad writing. This isn't to say that the writing was generally bad; it's inconsistent.
In typical Marvel fashion, comedy is one of the main pillars that gives its cast of colorful characters that much more personality. This time around, I felt the effort given here a bit too evident. Jokes rarely had any sort of build up, and felt incredibly spur of the moment, lacking any sort of extra punch. The few recurring jokes that were present, while funny the first few times, felt bled dry by their relentless persistence by the film's conclusion. I can understand that using comedy as a medium to develop many of the lesser characters in the series seemed like an easy way to give them on-screen time, but I'd have much preferred moments of character development instead of a swarm of one-off laughs. This same sentiment also bled over into the film's main narrative. In terms of how it looked in the grand scheme of things, it's mostly fine. But the film constantly found ways to shuffle characters from one set piece to the next without much forethought. The film even pokes fun at this at a certain point, as if to say 'Welp, it doesn't matter where we were, because we're going here now!'
The action that took place at each locale—fantastic. It's some of the most fun I've had watching Tom Holland play Spider-Man maybe ever. But if you're at all expecting Far From Home to not only be a literal allusion to Peter Parker and his friends being far from Queens, but also for them to be outside of their comfort zone, needing to dig deep to overcome obstacles—the latter doesn't ever really happen. There are pieces in play that certainly make an effort to convey the contrary, but Peter never really grows as a character and ends up in a spot (emotionally, or character-wise) more or less identical to where he was to start.
Far From Home felt like a tray full of various appetizers that eventually composed a full meal—in that you'll end up full regardless, but unlike Homecoming, lacked the story cohesiveness from start to finish. (Not to mention a really dicey hero-villain quarrel.) It's like a kid walking through Costco for the sole purpose of free samples. The samples are everywhere, and although they're certainly tasty, they can often come off as disjointed and lack cohesion when paired together. Don't get me wrong; I really enjoyed watching this. It's a fun time, at the very least, and a really fun time at best. It's a good summer romp at the theater, but one that feels mostly inconsequential.
1-2: Horrendous, wouldn’t recommend watching even if free of charge.
3-4: Potentially has some good ideas, but overall still lackluster.
5-6: Average, a decently good time; go see it if it's free.
7-8: A solid recommendation, and well-rounded film; warrants a purchase after home release.
9: No glaring flaws; deserves to be watched multiple times.
10: Masterful, must-see; filmmaking at its finest.