Spider-Man: Far from Home

Spider-Man: Far from Home ★★★

"[Much] like its 2017 predecessor, returning director Jon Watts (Cop Car) and screenwriters Chris McKenna (Ant-Man and the Wasp) and Erik Sommers (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) have channeled their collective inner John Hughes and crafted more of a teen-friendly coming of age comedy than they have a major studio superhero extravaganza. They put the emphasis on Peter’s interactions with his friends and classmates, most notably with best bud Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon) and unknowing object of his affections Michelle “MJ” Jones (Zendaya). These relationships are what prove to be most important. They are also the reason this sequel is as enjoyable as it is, the touching, funny and genuinely heartwarming conversations that pass between all of the teenagers as this increasingly wild and crazy, not to mention dangerous, European adventure spins more and more out of control an undeniable delight.

Good thing, too, because the actual mystery and action-oriented part of the plot isn’t that awesome. Other than dealing somewhat plausibly with Peter’s overwhelming grief at the loss of his father figure mentor Tony Stark, as well as the pressure being put on his own alter ego Spider-Man to become the next Iron Man, there’s not a lot in the way of doubt as it pertains to the fight against the Elementals or whether or not a greater evil is somewhere on the sidelines pulling all of the strings. McKenna and Sommers have essentially copied the template of an early aughts Pixar favorite and repurposed it for this film, gussying things up with a few wisecracks, a little teenage romance and massive Marvel Studios budget that allows them to create all sorts of earth, wind, water and fire-related carnage."