Spider-Man: Far from Home

Spider-Man: Far from Home ★★★½

This sounds lazily like a prequel to "Homecoming", which of course it must be if they've been aggressively promoting this movie ever since we saw Peter Parker get turned to ash. Sorry to spoil "Infinity War" for that one guy, because for this atonement for previous "Spider-Man" series' being weirdly depressing to go out with "Mr. Stark, I don't feel so good", you can understand Disney needing to spoil "Endgame". It's been a year since that huge spoiler, and eight months since the aforementioned Mr. Stark helped bring back from annihilation, but at the expense of yet another father figure for Peter Parker (Sorry for the "Endgame" spoiler, one guy). Peter is eager to get back to being an average teenager with a two-week academic decathlon trip to Europe that presents a new opportunity to land his crush MJ, when S.H.I.E.L.D. comes at him with some nonsense about sentient environmental catastrophes and a trans-dimensional super-warrior. There just has to be a more qualified Avenger for this mission than a teenager who does whatever the hell a spider can, but with Stark tech, a super-powered Jake Gyllenhaal and a convenient international tour, he may have caught his big break as a hero. Of course, he is soon tricked into empowering a dangerous force who poses a serious threat, though maybe not an intergalactic holocaust. Seriously, this by means disappoints as top-notch superhero fun, but releasing it so soon after "Endgame" is jarring for a number of reasons.

Indeed an anticlimactic closer for the MCU's "Phase Four" straight after the epic moviegoing event of 2019, this is more-or-less a filler blockbuster in its own right as a genre-bending high school action-comedy, not a coming-of-age. This furthers Disney's near-frantic correction of the Sony series' dramatic pretenses by basically throwing out what particularly meaningful character development were was in "Homecoming" for minimal supplements to the vast world-building, and really buckling down with an excitingly dynamic adventure storyline that nonetheless spirals into its own superhero pretenses. It can be tricky enough to reconcile this film's light tone with all of the high-stakes action and shocking plot twists that ought to be the brunt of an unnecessary 129 minutes, with all this crap about Peter juggling his espionage duties, errors-prone class trip and trying to steal his crush from a fastidious hunk being convoluted enough. Tone promises to go all over the place with a plot that is even more haphazard, so of course the pacing stays consistently forward and comedy- or action-oriented to keep plot flowing on its superficialities. Similarly, the action sequences have to be spectacular if they're going to be largely arbitrary and overlong, and the writing has to be witty in cornily punchy dialogue, screwball comedy, absurd character types and Disney Channel-style high school logic if it's going to be mostly that. With its predecessor's fluff taken to extremes of bubblegum comedy and indulgent popcorn spectacle, this one's for the kids. With everything else, though, it's still finding skyscraping new heights with its standards of family fun.

Dig that road comedy element that at least ups the scope of this as a comedy, rich in gorgeous European scenery that are lovingly scaled, and explored by our leads with farcical comedy-of-errors. The bumbling teachers and the sassy, awkward classmates who were charming footnotes in "Homecoming" are problematically brought to the heart of this plot, and earn their place with riotous pratfalls that rely more on their wacky subplots, fluffy personalities, quirky banter and hilarious performers than on the meager farce. Chris McKenna's and Erik Sommers' eminently snappy dialogue and tight sense of personality certainly continues to make Peter Parker a lovably bright and befuddled geek with wonderment and uncertainty about his abilities, as he goes through the motions getting his mojo as a true superhero. Tom Holland heads a delightfully inspired cast with more relatable charm and memorable heart, but I don't know if the film is as much an affirmation of the Spider-Man saga's depth as it is one of Holland's worth in the role. Still much less pretentious than the Sonyverse, this story is full of rousing twists and turns along a large-scale adventure that the writing elevates with its incessant wit and first-rate comedy, and that director Jon Watts charges with more of his seamless comic rhythm, bright tone and tightly tense showmanship. Last but not least, most all the action sequences are a bit crowbarred and bloated, and every last one of them is a mind-bending labyrinth of stunningly acrobatic choreography, jaw-dropping special effects and eclectic intensity. Fully aware of what it is, this film overcomes its short sights with no expense spared on the breed of top-notch entertainment that only this franchise can deliver.

More a filler thriller than its predecessor, with a rather bloated core storyline and even more high school soap opera behind bright momentum, jarring action and broadly zany comedy, this thrilling adventure finds more than enough credibility in tight storytelling, hysterical gags and characters, and a solid core character piece, and such spectacle in dynamic direction, cool effects and insane action sequences that Jon Watts' "Spider-Man: Far From Home" proves another high-flying good time with your friendly neighborhood high school geek.

3.5/5 - Good