I was excited to see “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”

Actually, scratch that: I was too excited to see “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” which isn’t a surprise since the hero, Peter Parker, is one of my top three Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) characters and my favorite from the comics. He is just too relatable!

But this time my excitement was the movie’s downfall: I expected too much, so I didn’t enjoy it as much.

That doesn’t mean I hated it, of course; the “Spider-Man: Homecoming” sequel was funny and action-packed and a good opening to the next phase of the MCU following “Avengers: Endgame.”

But I also can’t lie: I enjoyed the teaser trailer more than the movie.

As I walked out of the theater, I wasn’t sure why I was disappointed. After all, the funny moments in the trailer hit harder and were more developed in the movie: Peter Parker (Tom Holland) ghosting Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), his best friend Ned Leeds’ (Jacob Batalon) new relationship and the other romance sparking between his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), for example.

After some pondering, I came to some conclusions.

First, what brings a movie to life for me is that awe-inspiring moment that follows me out of the theater. In superhero movies, it’s almost always an action scene — who could forget the iconic 360 shot in the first “Avengers” with Alan Silvestri’s theme building in the background?

The “Avengers” theme, along with the “Pirates of the Caribbean” soundtrack and the “Star Wars” main title, is one often replayed on my Spotify — that’s how much that scene resonated with me.

So when an orchestral version of the classic ’60s “Spider-Man” television show theme song blared in the background of the “Far From Home” trailer, I thought, “If I’m having that awe-inspiring moment just from the trailer, I can’t wait for the movie!”

Thus, imagine my disappointment when I was in the theater and the music in the background of the action scenes — which can really make or break a movie — was not the theme from the trailer.

I will say that the cinematography of said action scenes was fun to watch, especially because the web-slinging was much more prevalent in “Far From Home” than it was in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” 

However, other visuals fell short for me — “Far From Home” includes some illusionary, mind-boggling and twisting alternate reality scenes that reminded me of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

But “Into the Spider-Verse” is an animated movie. With a live-action (such as “Far From Home”), there is a fine line between realistic and fake-looking CGI and digital effects.

Now, I told myself that I wouldn’t just bash the movie in this review. I truly enjoyed “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”

Peter’s character development following the loss of his mentor, Tony Stark, was realistic with his self-doubt and struggle to live up to Iron Man’s legacy. His character arc included rebuilding his confidence with the help of Happy Hogan, and I look forward to seeing their relationship develop in future movies. 

Of course, the main relationship in “Far From Home” was the one between Peter and Michelle “MJ” Jones (Zendaya).

In an interview, Zendaya said it was a portrayal of awkward teenage love, which it was — even to the point of being cringy at times (but still cute!). And I don’t mind that because it made it more realistic.

Speaking of Zendaya, I continued to enjoy her portrayal of MJ. In “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” her character played a minor role, so this sequel added much-needed depth to her already funny persona.

On the other hand, I wish Ned, as Peter’s closest and most trusted friend, had more character development in “Far From Home.” 

Spoilers:
The only character I really had issues with was Mysterio.

Thanks to the comics, I knew from the start he would be a villain. But Jake Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of Mysterio, or Quentin Beck, left me puzzled. Once again, I wasn’t sure why. But once I discussed it with my sister and realized I thought he was a natural at playing the “hero” in the beginning of the film, I figured it out.

Gyllenhaal’s on-screen (and off-screen) presence was just too nice for me to love him as a villain! Villains with interesting reasoning for their nefarious acts — like Killmonger in “Black Panther” — do bring a nice change of pace, but I still look for that chill down my spine when they appear on screen. Gyllenhaal wasn’t able to completely deliver that.

And while I thought it was an interesting take to have a Mysterio without actual superpowers, I wished that wasn’t the case because I’ve always enjoyed characters with magic, like Scarlet Witch and Dr. Strange. I was also disappointed that the multiverse turned out to be something Beck had simply made up, as its mention in the trailer left many people, including me, very excited.

On the flip side, the multiverse being fake was a twist I wasn’t expecting.

Despite these details that even I find nitpicky, I liked “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”

Would I watch it again? Yes. 

Would I recommend it? Also yes.

Am I looking forward to the next “Spider-Man” movie? Yes, especially after that mid-credits scene.

Still, I didn’t walk out of the theater feeling inspired or singing the film’s praises as I did with “Captain Marvel.” 

But I had expected to do so since the critical response to “Far From Home” was much higher than it was for “Captain Marvel.”

Unfortunately, it was those expectations that led to my lackluster personal response. 

By Sarina Rye

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