SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (2019)
Starring Tom Holland, Zendaya, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Jake Gyllenhaal, JB Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice, Hemky Madera, Numan Acar, Remy Hii, Oli Hill, Zach Barack, Michael Mando, Toni Garrn, Hélène Cardona, Sitara Attaie, Michael Iacono, Meagan Holder and JK Simmons.
Screenplay by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers.
Directed by Jon Watts.
Distributed by Columbia Pictures. 129 minutes. Rated PG-13.
It seems like Homecoming was not a fluke. The Spider-Man series is back on track – wonderfully so – after two misbegotten Amazing Spider-Man movies. In fact, with the web slinger now officially part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the new Spidey films are in some ways deeper than Sam Raimi’s stand-alone series.
Which is not to say that Spider-Man: Far from Home is deep. In fact, just like Homecoming, this movie is trying above all to be funny and exciting, and it handily succeeds. Far from Home not only swings up in the heights with the best of the Spider-Man movies, it reaches the level of the best MCU films.
Yes, it’s that good.
Full disclosure here: Spider-Man has always been my favorite comic book superhero. Therefore, I have always been a bit overprotective of the character. So, the fact that since the character has been rebooted in 2002 (and rebooted two more times in the less than two decades since) it’s very impressive that the character has a record of five terrific films, one fairly good one and two not-so-good ones. (I am counting last year’s animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, even though it looks at a totally different mythology of the hero.)
More importantly, the newest Spider-Man as played by Tom Holland goes back to the roots of the character. His Peter Parker is a teen, caught up in his high school dramas and unsure about his powers. He has doubts. He has crushes. He has friends. He has fun. He is still in awe of the things that he can do. He knows – as another of the Spider-Man movies said – with great power comes great responsibility. Yet, he is not sure he wants to take on that responsibility.
Particularly when he is going on a class trip to Europe, a week in which he can get closer to the girl of his dreams, MJ (Zendaya). The last thing in the world he wants is for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) to show up looking for his help in saving the Earth.
However, you don’t ghost Nick Fury.
And luckily the monsters that are attacking the planet – a group of giant elemental creatures made up of dirt, water, fire and wind – bring their havoc to Venice while Parker is in town. Therefore, Spider-Man has to team up with Nick Fury and his team, as well as another superhero named Magneto (Jake Gyllenhaal) to fight off the monsters. Magneto becomes a friend and mentor, but it turns out that his motivations are more complicated than Parker thinks.
At the same time Peter has to act like a regular American high school student seeing Europe, hiding his heroism from his class and periodically having to disappear to fight evil.
Like with Homecoming, the new Spider-Man series is much lighter on its feet and sweetly charming and funny than many superhero films. Of course, this new series does change things in Spidey’s mythology up a bit, too. Aunt Mae – as played by Marisa Tomei – has become a bit of a MILF. And Happy (Jon Favreau) has totally got a thing for her. All in all, it’s all in fun, though.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Far from Home is the villain, who is not pure evil. He is a complicated, conflicted character who feels wronged and allows his anger to fester to the point that he goes into the black. However, he never seems to feel totally comfortable with his nefarious deeds.
Spider-Man: Far from Home is a terrific addition to the mythology of the character and the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe. More to the point, it’s a whole lot of fun. After the bittersweet coda to Avengers: Endgame, hopefully it points to a good direction for the next chapter of the saga.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2019 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: July 2, 2019.