Spider-Man: Far From Home (****1/2) continues the winning streak

Spider-Man: Far From Home – 2019

Director Jon Watts
Screenplay Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Starring Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, J. B. Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, Jake Gyllenhaal, Remy Hii

One thing that should not be disputed by now is that Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man, and it’s not even close. Taking the reins for the first post Endgame story, Holland’s fresh faced Peter Parker gives the exasperated energy we’ve seen in previous versions of the super hero. What he also gives is a complex character who, while virtuous, is still a flawed character in search of a father figure.

Far From Home starts out with strips of an explanation for how the world is dealing with the ramifications of The Snap, which here is called the blip. Suffice to say, there is a reason some of the same kids from the first film are still the same age as Peter for the second. As an added bonus, it does not shy away from the issue of housing in the post blip world either.

Peter is looking for a break from his role as superhero, and as one can guess, he’s exasperated. This doesn’t stop Happy Hogan from telling him Nick Fury is still out to make contact with Spider-Man while incorporating his new role in the Avengers Initiative. Peter avoids him long enough to get on his class trip to Europe, then not only Fury catches up with him, but a new menace, along with someone to combat that menace.

That someone is Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio. He’s got a cool suit and he’s from another dimension, from what we learn from Fury. Beck eradicates the first threat that Peter sees in Venice, then becomes a supportive friend when Peter exhibits reservations on jumping into the fray.

Far From Home has twists that are obvious, but still well presented. Anyone who has seen a movie knows the real threat is never dispatched before the halfway point of the film. Still, the moment we see things break down, the film kicks it into the most comic booky any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films have gone, outside of Dr. Strange, It is never clumsy or dull, even if it can be a little hard to visualize at times.

This could seem silly, but it’s well presented and explained and it never gets to the point where an entire city or even more than a city block is destroyed, even if it is imperiled. Peter is placed in an extreme situation that actually seems pretty hard to recover from, much less emerge victorious.

Gyllenhaal is excellent as Beck. He has an intensity that demands belief of even the most outlandish concept, like how in the hell he can fly, much less see with all of that fog in his fish bowl looking helmet. He pulls it off, all the way to the end.

The film is great, but not without flaws. The teacher characters presented by Smoove and Starr are annoying and won’t survive repeated viewings. That Brad guy (Hii) just begs to be ignored, too.

This film may not impress as much as the first film, and that’s mainly due to the fact no one can compare to Michael Keaton when it comes to being a bad guy. What they have works entirely for me, however.

Holland’s performance as Parker/Spidey is the real draw here. His chemistry with Zendeya is considerable. Ned (Batalan) narrowly avoids being a full sitcom character and thankfully he’s distracted for a large portion of the film.

Most people who love Marvel will see this film. A lot of people who could care less about The Avengers will still find much to enjoy here. That said, the only way you could hate this film is to decide ahead of time that it’s time to start hating.

Fortunately most viewers will just be able to sit back and enjoy it for the sweet diversion the film provides.

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