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Spider-Man: Far from Home Movie Review

Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019) movie poster Spider-Man: Far from Home

Theatrical Release: July 2, 2019 / Running Time: 135 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Jon Watts / Writers: Chris McKenna, Eric Sommers (screenplay); Stan Lee, Steve Ditko (Marvel comic book)

Cast: Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Jake Gyllenhaal (Quentin Beck/Mysterio), Marisa Tomei (May Parker), Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan), Zendaya (Michelle "MJ" Jones), Jacob Batalan (Ned Leeds), Tony Revolori (Flash Thompson), Angourie Rice (Betty Brant), Remy Hii (Brad Davis), Martin Starr (Mr. Harrington), JB Smoove (Mr. Dell), Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Jason Ionello), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hil), Numan Acar (Dimitri), Peter Billingsley (William Ginter Riva), J.K. Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson), Ben Mendelsohn (Talos), Sharon Blynn (Soren)

 

Spider-Man: Far from Home has the seemingly unenviable task of being the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to follow Avengers: Endgame. This direct sequel to 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming relishes its timing,
though, opening with a shoddy student slideshow tribute to the fallen Avengers set to Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." With its link to the MCU established, Far From Home is now free to do its own thing, which Homecoming had done to copious amounts of fun.

Opening scenes explain how "The Blip", the accepted nickname for Thanos' temporary population control snap, affected students, which is almost not at all as far as we're concerned. As luck would have it, all the principal characters established in Homecoming suffered the same fate as Peter Parker (Tom Holland), disintegrating and not existing for five years. That means, as restored, they're still in high school and ready to celebrate the end of the school year with a European class trip. (We're apparently well into the 2020s now, not that it matters.)

Peter thinks it will offer a welcome break from New York City heroics, but fortunately his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) packs him a Spider-Man suit, which he soon needs when a great force connected to the Earth wreaks havoc on Venice, Italy, where Peter, love interest MJ (Zendaya), best bud Ned (Jacob Batalon), and company happen to be. Spider-Man helps the man keeping the danger at bay, a hero who comes to be called Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). He's apparently from an alternate version of Earth and has been combatting these types of unnatural disasters called Elementals around our globe, with the apparent blessing of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders).

Elemental dangers disrupt the European class trip of Peter Parker (Tom Holland) in "Spider-Man: Far from Home."

Far from Home seems like it might break some Marvel formulas by having a new superhero share the load of its established protagonist. But that's not to be and apparently I'm not supposed to say anything more on that because spoilers.

Even if conventions are upheld, they are done so in a spirited fashion, with Far from Home approaching the same lofty entertainment values as its surprisingly great predecessor. The Amazing Spider-Man reboots seemed hasty and this current incarnation came even sooner, but the connection to the MCU has proved to be the jolt in the arm that Sony's once dominant superhero franchise needed.

With one well-reviewed, tepidly-received indie (2015's Cop Car) and the horror film Clown to his name, director Jon Watts was an unlikelier choice for the helm than either Sam Raimi or Marc Webb before him. Did that even matter? The Russo Brothers became the guardians of the MCU and got here via "Arrested Development", "Community", and You, Me and Dupree. Maybe the Marvel machine is too big and well-oiled to falter. Maybe directors who expect to assert real creative vision (like original Ant-Man hire Edgar Wright) are forced to fall in line or shown the door. Whatever the case may be, Watts has now helmed two highly enjoyable Spider-Man films. And while perhaps that isn't all that hard to do -- I found Webb's Amazing duo passable and I'll even strongly defend Spider-Man 3 -- it's been done, nonetheless.

Spider-Man (Tom Holland) meets Quentin Beck, a.k.a. Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) in "Spider-Man: Far from Home."

And now that key cornerstones of the MCU have been retired, Spider-Man is suddenly not just a cog but an essential building block for the colossal connected universe to continue staving off superhero movie fatigue. Quick, think of another Marvel film series you're genuinely excited to see where it goes. (For me, there's only the seemingly inevitable union of Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy.)

Like Homecoming, Far from Home is breezy and comedic. There is menace and it is diverting, making use of augmented reality,
a domain superhero movies have not explored before. But most of the time, we're just being amused by the adolescent antics of Peter, his classmates, and their chaperones (Martin Starr, returning, and J.B. Smoove, new). Jon Favreau's Happy Hogan gets to score more laughs both on his own and as part of a not so stealthy romance with May.

Only two of Homecoming's six credited writers return, and yet the two, Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, do an admirable job of keeping spirits high and the tone light, while checking off all the boxes we associate with superhero action without feeling like they're just checking off boxes. In the two months since Avengers: Endgame opened, there hasn't been another movie in the same league and most of the big budget live-action offerings have failed to find an audience. Far from Home should do that and put a little pep in the step of a thus far underwhelming season while also reminding us that although Endgame may have felt like the end, Marvel will continue to make us marvel.

Related Reviews:
Spider-Man: HomecomingAvengers: EndgameSpider-Man: Into the Spider-VerseSpider-ManSpider-Man 2Spider-Man 3Captain Marvel
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Reviewed July 3, 2019.



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