SONY PICTURES RELEASING (2019)

 

Director: Jon Watts

 

Starring: Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, J.B. Smoove, Martin Starr

He does whatever a spider can.

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming was held up as a huge return to form for Spidey, whereas I thought it was a bit naff. Since then, the web-slinger has died in Avengers: Infinity War and returned in Endgame, so, in all, it’s been a turbulent few years for ol’ Spidey. Now, Tom Holland is back in the suit for the next solo outing in Far From Home which takes place after the events of Endgame and sees Peter Parker struggling to deal with the loss of Tony Stark whilst doing that important teenage thing of, y’know, growing up.

After the destruction of Endgame, Peter Parker just wants to go on a European vacation with his schoolmates - including best buddy Ned (Batalon) and his crush MJ (Zendaya) – and have some fun without the pressures of saving the world. However, when Nick Fury (Jackson) comes calling, the simple life disappears. When major cities begin to be attacked by unnatural forces, the mysterious…Mysterio (Gyllenhaal) flies in to save the day. Oh, but we all know nothing is as it seems. Homecoming, to me, was too focused on the Tony Stark angle, setting up Peter as the new Iron Man-in waiting, rather than delivering a solid solo Spider-Man movie. The coming-of-age aspects were good and Michael Keaton was marvellous but it didn’t satisfy my spidey senses. Far From Home, on the other hand, really did. It felt, to me, what a Spider-Man movie should feel like – fun, adventurous, slightly ludicrous but always having Peter Parker at the centre of everything. Tom Holland’s pitch-perfect take on the character remains so enjoyable to watch and his relationship with Zendaya’s MJ is well-developed again. Jacob Batalon and Angourie Rice, however, manage to steal the majority of the laughs. The incoming Jake Gyllenhaal is clearly having a ball as Mysterio, hamming it up through his scenes and adding some real talent to proceedings.

 

The story itself holds no real surprises but sometimes that’s what’s needed – especially after the weightier recent releases from the MCU. The major twists (in the movie, at least) aren’t entirely surprising – though they become captivating - but the writing and performances make up for the light story and there’s a real breezy feel to the entire movie – it moves along extremely well. The teenage angle is written effectively and the young love plot is extremely entertaining and welcome. When the major threat is another boy after your crush, there’s a lovable aspect to proceedings. We also have Peter struggling to understand what Tony Stark wanted from him and whether he was to blame for his passing, so there’s a deeper aspect to Peter’s character which is a helpful addition – the events of Endgame aren’t forgotten or totally glossed over but the movie doesn’t lean entirely on them either. Yes, Stark’s ghost hangs over the movie, but this time, he never takes over, it remains Peter’s movie. When the action comes, it comes big and is well-presented even when the CGI threatens to swallow everything and, even if the finale is a little too bonkers, it never feels lacklustre or uninspired – which is something I have complained about many times, the inability to close off an MCU movie in a totally satisfying way.

 

Everyone knows to stick around once an MCU movie is finished and the two post-credits scenes are doozies in terms of setting up what’s next or (potentially) the future of the MCU which is a concern many had after the genre-defining events of Endgame. Still, there’s plenty of mileage left in that tank. As for Far From Home, this felt more like a return to form for me. It’s fun, it’s light, it’s just right for summer and has all the ingredients for a great Spidey movie.

July 6th 2019

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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