Spider-Man: Far from Home ★★★½

After the traumatic events of the latest Avengers films, Peter Parker is ready to get back to the life of a normal high school student and embark on a European vacation with his classmates. Proving that there is no rest for the weary, Nick Fury and his new recruit, Mysterio, have their own plans for Parker's alter-ego. From the director of the just-OK "Cop Car" and the writers of the middling "Ant Man & the Wasp," "Jumanji" (2017), and "The Lego Batman Movie."

Putting dark and grim nihilism behind us (for the moment), it's nice to kick off the MCU's next phase with some goofy, fluffy old-school comic-book fare. This is probably the closest adherent to print-style adventures I've yet seen, sticking significantly to the formulaic street-level villain who wants money or power. This is by no means a bad thing since all the other MCU films have striven to evolve classic stories moreso from their roots - but it's good to get back to your roots sometimes. Gyllenhaal's job isn't going to be memorable, but for a character who spent almost every page behind a cloudy fishbowl helmet, it's an admirable humanization. There's loads of easter eggs, twists, and end-credits surprises to grab both the layman and the fan.

If this were an issue of Amazing Spider-Man, however, it wouldn't rack up any value in the Comic Book Price Guide. The villain's method of physical execution is unnecessarily exorbitant, really a macguffin for an overlong, dizzying acrobatics piece at the climax, an excuse for the CG team to create a demo of clouds of objects, and an all-too-common distraction from the bad guy by using enormous digital armies of copy-and-paste expendables. The significant promise of getting really creative with confrontations in mid-film never comes to fruition as we go back to the well for the finish, ultimately failing to do this classic antagonist the justice deserved. As a smaller gripe, while entertaining, the other classmates serve almost no purpose except as targets and comic relief, missing an opportunity for complex, extended continuity social drama as occurs in the comics.

Refreshing and fun without going particularly deep or angsty, the latest Spider-Man entry maintains the hero's latest iteration as the best yet, even if the flagship character's impact on the MCU seems to be turning out minimal, and even if the creative team's history of cheap comedy creates its own glass ceiling.

RigelDC liked this review