‘Far From Home’ brings zany superhero fun, yet leaves much to be desired

Noah Levine

Who would’ve thought that Jake Gyllenhaal would be playing a fishbowl-wearing sorcerer in a Spider-Man movie?

Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is back in “Far From Home,” a sequel to 2017’s “Homecoming.” Jon Watts returns to direct this installment of America’s favorite webslinger. The film follows Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as his class trip abroad is interrupted by elemental creatures and a mysterious hero dubbed Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). This sequel stands out with its mesmerizing visual effects, yet it leaves much to be desired in terms of story.

The majority of “Far From Home” is made up of returning actors from the previous film. Holland returns as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. His awkward quips and relatable personality effectively channel the iconic character. Jacob Batalon once again comedically compliments Holland with his energetic portrayal of Ned Leeds.

Iconic Spider-Man character MJ returns, played by Zendaya. She is given a lot more time to shine, and her wonderfully sarcastic tone and morbid attitude bring a unique flavor to a familiar character. Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei and Samuel L. Jackson fall nicely back into their roles, fleshing out the supporting cast.

The biggest addition to the cast is Oscar-nominated actor Jake Gyllenhaal. His compassionate and accepting performance makes for a wonderful contrast with a spoiler-related event that happens during the course of the film. Gyllenhaal fully embraces the character of Mysterio and certainly leaves his mark on the ever-growing story.

As per usual with Marvel films, the incredible special effects department is prominently on display. Everything from gigantic elemental creatures to the mesmerizing powers of Mysterio are consistently visually enticing. One standout sequence involves a terrifying dreamscape conjured by Mysterio. The animations and usage of color create a slew of otherworldly imagery that unfold in rapid succession.

While this installment succeeds in its visual scale, it lacks in regards to storytelling. Fans of the grounded and intimate “Homecoming” will certainly be disappointed as “Far From Home” sacrifices its modesty for an extravagant blockbuster event. The film often loses its story in the special effects, and great character moments are pushed aside for scenes of Spider-Man flying around animated catastrophes.

The plot often pushes itself forward without addressing certain inconsistencies just so it can move to the next action set piece. With recent Marvel flicks being larger than life, it would’ve been nice to return to a smaller-scale story. Audiences can only suspend their disbelief to a certain extent, therefore eventually weakening a personal connection to the film.

There are also a few oddly edited elements. Certain scene placements and intrusive flashbacks are a bit awkwardly incorporated. In addition, the plot itself feels a bit predictable at times. Fans of the comics will catch on to the twist much quicker than the characters in the film.

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” is by no means a bad film. Fans looking for more of the same explosive super hero action will feel right at home, but those looking for a grounded, intimate story will yearn for more.

3 out of 5 stars