Spider-Man: Far From Home
Following Avengers: Endgame was never going to be an easy task. The events of over 20 films culminated into one of the biggest movies ever. Whatever followed it was going to have to clean up a lot. In one of its better moments, Spider-Man: Far from Home manages to complicate the ending of Endgame while wrapping up some of its emotions. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) cries at the tombstone of Tony Stark, the Iron Man who gave up his life to ensure all of Earth's population survived Thanos and the Click Heard Round the World. It is a powerful moment for fans that complicates Tony's sacrifice. The happy ending of everyone surviving leaves Peter with an enormous burden of living up to what Tony saw in him.
It is unfortunate the Far From Home can't hold onto this post-Endgame exploration longer during its first act. We learn that those that disappeared for 5 years refer to the instance as The Blip. This pays off in a humorous way as a scrawny, nerdy boy at Peter's school has come back post-Blip as a teen heartthrob and is pining for M.J. The film habitually starts down some interesting ideas but then forgets the follow-through. For example, Peter is trying to balance his great power and responsibility with wanting to be a teenager and have a life but by the end of the film, this narrative thread is left in the rubble after a series of inventive action scenes and planet saving. The aftermath of Tony's death clearly haunts Peter but the film never really explores the reasons why aside from the responsibility he now feels.
It is this lack of depth that really bogs down the first half of the film. Thankfully, the film finds its stride half-way through and holds onto it until the end. Once this happens, Far From Home is a blast of obvious twists, psychedelic images, and teen rom-com humor.
The plot follows Peter and his friends as they head for Europe on a school trip. Peter has a plan to tell MJ (Zendaya) how much he likes her. He is ready for a break when a new threat to Earth crashes the trip. The Elementals are powerful beings based on the four elements. With them they bring about Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), a hero from an alternative universe. Peter soon gets wrapped up in helping Mysterio fight to save the Earth but the film soon complicates things with a few twists that won't be spoiled here.
Zendaya and Holland have great chemistry together and one of the things that works best in Far From Home is the budding romance between them. Gyllenhaal is a blast as Mysterio, getting to flex his range here. He is clearly having a wonderful time with the role.
While the first half of the film doesn't work, the second half does. This is partly due to the script finally ditching the ruse that Peter is going to be able to ditch being a hero and allowing Spider-Man to swing into action. The action is wild and easily the most visually creative in a Marvel film since Dr. Strange. The film also boasts having the best post-credit scenes in some time, maybe ever. These elements make the film an overall fun time but this could have been so much better.