If Endgame was an enormous banquet of a film, a gluttonous self-indulgence just about earned by a franchise that is increasingly dominating the planet, Marvel seems to have positioned Far From Home as a wafer thin mint to finish the lot off.
But so soon after the release (and obviously-motivated re-release) of the generation-spanning Avengers gambit’s conclusion, the ever-present risk of Marvel-fatigue is real. Far From Home is, in many ways, an utterly typical modern MCU picture — controlled, witty in short doses, and uninventive. Is it any wonder, then, that it’s starting to grate?
Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is back, scarred, in theory, by the loss of father-figure Tony Stark, and desperate to spend a summer on a European school trip without responsibilities, chasing Zendaya’s MJ. This grief, signposted as it was by previous films, seems underdone — someone in the art department clearly decided to place Iron Man murals all over the gaff, but trite symbolism isn’t enough, and Holland’s usually impressive range isn’t quite perfect here.
Nonetheless, elemental nasties seem to be following Peter around, but are all contained and neutralised by a charming Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio. Wielding mystical powers and hailing from an alternate reality, he’s here to keep things under control, Spiderman optional, and Nick Fury (Sam Jackson) is keen to use his powers and righteousness.
Peter admires the new hero, but is keen to enjoy his holiday too, the key tension of the film. Peter’s struggle to live up to Tony Stark’s questionable standards has been the theme of Holland’s tenure so far, one that hopefully may be grown past — it’s starting to wear a little thin.
There’s some genuine charisma on show here, particularly in the form of Gyllenhaal’s magnetic Mysterio, but the threat of repeated action scenes leaning as heavily as ever on CGI pushes it too far. Sam Jackson is starting to lean on his eyepatch and goatee to do most of the work for him as Fury, and Cobie Smulders must surely be nearing the end of her tether with the repetitiously mundane roles she plays in the MCU.
Far From Home isn’t a failure on its own terms; it boasts a beginning, a middle and an end. Those concluding moments promise at least something of a shakeup for future films, too, which is somewhat reassuring. But the minute-to-minute weariness of this movie formula is starting to become a serious obstacle. The odd nice quip does not make up for the staid scripting and repetitive arcs that are becoming the norm.
Tom Holland’s tenure in the Spidey-suit has a whiff of success about it — he’s been charming and the films have eclipsed the dreary Garfield years without issue. But they’re going to have to improve significantly to be genuinely worthwhile in any kind of a lasting manner. Far From Home doesn’t manage the necessary improvement.