Spider-Man: Far from Home ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Okay, so the "added stinger" for the Endgame re-release was literally just the beginning of this movie?!?

After that movie's solemn send-off, it's ideal that Spider-Man was chosen for the immediate MCU follow-up. He may be a "fun" hero, but historically, he's no stranger to dealing with darker incidents. The way this cinematic universe set him up, the youngest Avenger is enough of an outsider to be the perfect subject for a "what now?" storyline. What's now is that Peter Parker just wants to get back to normal high school stuff, enjoying his international summer class trip (freakin' private schools!) and telling crush MJ (Zendaya) that he like-likes her. So, naturally, Nick Fury is ringing incessantly, trying to get this kid to drop what he's doing and investigate some giant creatures causing wind-, water-, dirt- and fire-based havoc around the globe. Peter is even named the keeper of Tony Stark's innovative not-Google-glasses, but he figures such game-changing tech should be in better qualified hands, so he gives them to newly arrived superguy Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), who the kids are calling Mysterio. Of course, any Spidey fan can tell you Mysterio is a founding member of the Sinister Six. Peter must fix his mistake before London and all his friends are demolished by Beck and his fellow former Stark staffers.

Spider-Man was always my favorite superhero, so I am predisposed to liking a Spider-Man movie better than your average superhero blockbuster (as well as to getting extra heated if it shits the bed, e.g., The Amazing Spider-Man 2). With Far from Home, the Sony/Disney alliance continues to do right by my guy, guiding this outing's tone with ever-changing, unfamiliar European settings that mirror how adrift young Spidey feels without an experienced pro guiding him. Like Homecoming, this one spends a lot of time on Peter's social life, and I think it pays off better this time, since snarky MJ emerges as an actual character with dimension while Ned (Jacob Batalon) tones down the doofy gags in the name of love, getting a better hat while he's at it. On the flipside, Mysterio felt more like a cookie-cutter villain than Vulture did to me, which is more the script's fault than Jakey G's, relying far too long on everyone believing Beck's best intentions despite the audience knowing better. Still, when he hobbles our hero with his nightmarish hallucination, it's everything you want from a big screen Mysterio.

In the end, the shifts and peculiarities are negligible. Far from Home succeeds as a stand-alone superhero adventure with appropriately localized stakes, simultaneously doing what it can to put all that Infinity Stone business in the past. This new series has effectively revitalized Spider-Man after his two previous runs both ended so... unfortunately. It's also done well in shaking up the established conventions, keeping crusty old know-it-alls like myself guessing. Right now, even considering the twist in this installment's final seconds, I foresee Tom Holland's web-head swinging around NYC for years to come, and I'm glad to have him there.

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