Spider-Man: Far From Home

Spider-Man: Far From Home ★★★★

After being resurrected along with the other fallen Avengers, battling an evil intergalactic titan on Earth, and losing his mentor, Peter Parker, played by Tom Holland, just wants to set his superhero alter ego, Spider-Man, aside for a couple of weeks so that he can enjoy being a normal high school kid during a class trip to Europe. Leaving the Spider-Man suit behind, he boards a plane with his classmates and focuses on capturing the attention of the girl of his dreams, MJ, played by Zendaya. When an otherworldly threat manifests itself, however, Peter is forced to rely on his web slinging abilities yet again in order to save his friends.

Just two months after Avengers: Endgame stormed into theaters as an epic summation to an 11 year-old storyline, the 2019 superhero film, Spider-Man: Far from Home, brings us down from the clouds to end the third phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a touch of smaller scale intimacy and humor, while also hinting at future tales to come. Director Jon Watts, who previously helmed Holland and company in the 2017 film, Spider-Man: Homecoming, achieves a similar success here by reigning in the larger-than-life spectacle of the Avengers saga, and shifting the narrative emphasis to the interactional dynamics of ordinary humans who are struggling to find their own way amidst the explosions. The best moments in this Avengers-meets-Eurotrip outing are the ones that simply show Parker and his fellow high schoolers navigating the universally relatable rigors of teenage life.

In the previous Spider-Man entry, Holland established himself as the best screen incarnation of Peter Parker to date, because of his ability to convey the inherent awkwardness and insecurity of the character, even when he is stepping up to the plate to perform impossibly heroic deeds. His star shines even brighter here as his character makes the transition from a boy to a man by learning to stand on his own feet after he is given one final gift by his friend and father figure, Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe movies have always been at their best when they examine how the bitter taste of failure is a beneficial ingredient that fuels the need for heroes and ordinary people alike to become the best versions of themselves. This latest entry provides an undeniable emotional catharsis as such, especially during a cheer-worthy moment where Peter is using Stark's Iron Man technology to perfect a new uniform. This thematic drive is given additional heft by certain narrative twists that illustrate the importance not only of refusing to let our failures define us, but also of not placing those whom we admire on pedestals at our own expense. As with other Marvel stories, this one sends a tip of the hat to present-day political climates, particularly the preponderance of misinformation and media manipulation, but the more personal lessons that we can all apply to our lives in any era are the ones that most often hit the mark.

Samuel L. Jackson, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, and Tony Revolori all return in endearing support roles that accentuate how the heavy-duty battle scenes and computer-generated visuals of these movies are no match for talented actors who, even when only featured in brief appearances, somehow convince us that we have known them for ages. Jake Gyllenhaal, as “Mysterio”, an enigmatic presence who announces his goal to team up with the Earth as a response to multiverse invaders, is the latest addition to the Marvel trend of using A-list actors to capture our imagination in a way that the special effects splendor can never top.

I cannot discuss the plot mechanics of Spider-Man: Far from Home in detail, but I will strongly encourage everyone to stay seated for the two post-credits stingers. Since The Go-Go's song, “Vacation”, is playing at the end, I did not want to leave the theater anyway.

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