Spider-Man: Far from Home

Posted: July 9, 2019 in Film reviews
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Directed by: Jon Watts. Starring: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei and Jake Gyllenhaal.

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Okay first things first. This is going to be, as far as possible, a spoiler free review of Spider-Man; but, in talking about this film I will need to reveal things about Avengers: Endgame, so if you haven’t seen that yet, for goodness sake why not?

Seriously I’m going to spoil Endgame so don’t scroll past thus picture of a warm and cuddly Sam Jackson unless you’ve A/ already seen it or B/ really don’t care.

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Still will me?

Thanos has been defeated, and the Snap has been undone. The 50% of people who vanished five years ago have returned in what’s being termed The Blip. The downside is that they’re the same age they were when they were snapped out of existence. Which is how come Peter’s still 16 while a weedy kid from several years below him is now a buff teenager with designs on MJ.

The world is also getting used to the fact that Iron Man, Captain America and Black Widow are no more, and in particular the loss of Tony Stark cuts deep, especially for Peter Parker (Holland) who idolised the man. Struggling with trying to live a double life as a normal kid and a friendly neighbourhood webslinger, and wanting more than anything to enjoy a school trip to Europe so he can finally tell MJ (Zendaya) how he feels about her, Peter ignores a call from Nick Fury (Jackson) much to the astonishment of Happy (Favreau) who advises; “You don’t ghost Nick Fury.”

Once in Europe Peter finds that Fury isn’t so easily dissuaded, especially not when the world is in peril thanks to elemental creatures that have already destroyed the Earth of Quentin Beck (Gyllenhaal) a man with amazing powers who soon garners the name Mysterio.

Peter really doesn’t want to step into Iron Man’s shoes, but with great power…ah you know the rest. Will Spidey step up, and can he defeat the Elementals with Mysterio’s help?

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And so our seventh standalone Spider-Man film in less than 20 years, arrives, featuring our third Spider-Man in that time, and whatever your view of the films (and I wasn’t totally sold on Homecoming) there’s a strong argument that Tom Holland is the closest fit to the comic book webslinger we’ve ever had, but much as filling Iron Man’s shoes is a big ask, being the first post Endgame MCU film equates to pretty big shoes to fill as well, especially so soon, but thankfully Holland and co fill them well, and this is perhaps the perfect film to follow the end of phase whatever, much as Ant-Man 2 was a nice palate cleanser to follow Infinity War.

Not that Far from Home is a lightweight knockabout comedy by any means. I mean, well it is those things, but there’s deeper, darker things afoot, but Watts directs so effortlessly that you don’t realise it, at first at least.

But whilst on the face of it this is a teen comedy that sees Peter Parker and chums decamp to Europe for all manner of japes, it’s also a tale about responsibility. For all his power, Spidey doesn’t want to save the world, as he tells an audience early on who start badgering him about whether he’s now an Avenger and whether he can take Tony Stark’s place, “Don’t you guys have any neighbourhood questions?”

But whilst Peter might want to keep things lowkey, Fury needs his help to battle the extra dimensional elementals, and he isn’t above semi kidnapping Peter, or using emotional blackmail to get the job done, and Jackson is at his gruff best here.

Playing good cop to Fury’s bad is Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, a man who watched his own world burn and who understands about responsibility, and a man who’s more than happy to fill the void left by Tony’s passing.

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And whilst Robert Downey Jr. doesn’t appear here outside of flashbacks, the absence of Tony Stark looms large, and whether intentional or not it’s a neat trick to be able focus on the guilt and loss that have always been part of Spider-Man’s emotional makeup, whilst managing not to focus on Uncle Ben for the umpteenth time (Though Ben Parker does get a nice call back if you spot it).

Gyllenhaal is excellent here, playing the melancholy of Beck well, and coming across like a friendly uncle, or big brother, and it’s no wonder Peter bonds with him, and Gyllenhaal and Holland have great chemistry. Gyllenhaal genuinely looks the part of the chisel jawed superhero as well.

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As MJ thankfully we get a lot more of Zendaya this time out, and she’s excellent as a very different kind of MJ, spiky and playful, and thankfully not falling into the trap of being a smart cookie who’s an idiot when it comes to one specific thing. Again she and Holland have nice chemistry (I think it’s fair for say Holland works well with everyone in this.)

Jacob Batalon is back as Peter’s best buddy and ‘man in the chair’ Ned, and he’s as much a joy to watch as he was in Homecoming. In particular he and Angourie Rice as Betty have an amusing plotline running through the film. I do hope we get to see more from Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson next time out, the repurposing of the comic book jock as a social media obsessed rich kid is an interesting one, they just need to make more of it.

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Marisa Tomei is back as, let’s face it, possibly the hottest Aunt May, and she gets a bit more to do, plus some nice scenes with Favreau, and it’s nice to see more of Happy, who provides some nice humour and backup to Spidey.

The comedy is excellent throughout, with lots of plumb lines like “I can help, I’m really strong and I’m sticky!” and the film really does work as well as a teen comedy as it does a superhero film, even if the two teachers are played a little too broadly at times.

The action set pieces are awesome, especially the finale in London, and whilst the cgi does look a trifle ropey at times for the most part the fights look good. The Elementals aren’t the greatest villains ever, but what are you going to do, eh?

Humorous and exciting, and managing to walk a tightrope between lightweight comedy and coming of age drama, this really is a top-notch Marvel film, and a hugely enjoyable Spider-Man film in its own right, and one can only hope Marvel have Holland locked in for more films, because I could watch him as Peter Parker all day.

Oh, and a VERY IMPORTANT tip here. Stay right to the end of the credits. Forget your disappointment at the lack of anything in Endgame, or little snippets that barely seemed worth the wait, because Far from Home has arguably two of the most jaw dropping end credits scenes in the whole damn Marvel Universe, and as eek inducing as that first one is, I did almost cheer when…well, go see the film, you’ll understand why!

More Spidey soon please Mr Marvel!

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