Spider-Man: Far from Home

Spider-Man: Far from Home ★★★

"Even Dead, I'm The Hero."

Just when you thought your favorite web-spinning hero couldn't be more relatable, he too has to work while he's on vacation. Damn.

Peter Parker is back and his spidey sense (don't you dare call it "Peter tingle") is too, far from home in this sequel to the excellent Homecoming, once again directed by Jon Watts, the first film from Marvel after the surprisingly great Endgame, and all the life-altering events we witnessed just a couple months ago. (Or last weekend if you really needed to see another end-credits scene.)

Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man (Tom Holland) finally gets some time off, taking a class trip to Europe for the summer. Peter really just wants to hang out with MJ (Zendaya, who is no longer Meechee) and ask her out too, but he'll enjoy the vacation as much as he can… at least, until the ever-present Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) once again ruins the fun. But Spidey has little choice! Remember, most other superheroes/Avengers are dead, retired, or simply not available after the cataclysmic Endgame, meaning that when elemental monsters come to wreck the earth's cities -- you don't need to know why -- it's Spider-Man to the rescue. Yet, there is one other powerful man available, one we've never met before, that of Quentin Beck as the superhero Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). From where has this enigmatic hero derived? Recall the time-altering events of the last film, and even the timeline-shifting multiverse theory of the brilliant Into the Spider-Verse; a hero from another dimension, and traveling villains, well that no longer seems crazy now does it? As the strange but paternalistic Mysterio takes Spider-Man under his wing, a la what Iron Man/Tony Stark was some long ago, dangers lurk and allegiances shift, even as Peter and MJ just wanna have fun.

Whereas Endgame was pulse-pounding thrills and cliffhangers with action galore, Spider-Man: Far from Home sticks to much of a romcom feel and keeps it light in the right places. Yeah, it's funny! What a relief after the exhausting latest film.

However, with great comedy comes great responsibility, and in fact there are serious quandaries in this post-snap/post-unsnap world; for instance, Peter is given a stark gift by Stark, one that must be overwhelming for a 16-year-old, hinting at drone warfare and military-industrial complex control. It's heavy! You may not expect it, and the film doesn't make it all work, but Far from Home does not ignore the apocalypse-that-was-then-wasn't, and it looms large over the events of this summer movie. If you wanted pure escapism, it's not quite that.

The comedy comes, and comes and comes. Oh a lot of it is real hokey, including some extremely uncomfortably unfunny moments from teachers/chaperones played by Martin Starr and J.B. Smoove. It's bad. I really wanted them to shut up, along with most of the classmates that continually almost die.

Part of the problem with this film, and perhaps all superhero movies now after Endgame, is that nothing will ever feel as consequential as that story. (Yes, I know, they're comic books, you know where I'm going with this.) When one film has everything on the line and no one is ever safe… how could any film bring the stakes? And that's just it, the stakes feel so low here. You know who's going to make it. Even with a brutal twist -- it's a good one, but painfully explained by the villain in excruciating expository detail -- things feel transparent now.

So Far from Home, entertaining for sure, spirals out of control as it has no idea what film it wants to be. Was it fun? Sure. But maybe just an average Marvel romp.

Two major points, though, that make it worth your time: 1) an absolutely bonkers and wild segment you'll have to see to believe and people will be talking about this weekend, and 2) perhaps the best mid-credits scene ever in a Marvel film which has actual significance and produced an audible gasp in my audience. That was well done.

Added to Jon Watts ranked.

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