Spider-Man: Far From Home

Movie Information

An excellent cast delivers top-notch action and laughs in a well-timed romp through Europe.
Genre: Action/Adventure
Director: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal
Rated: PG-13

With Endgame behind us, moviegoers around the world are on the edge of their seats about where the Marvel Cinematic Universe will go next. Even though I haven’t loved many of the films in this epic franchise, I’ll admit that I am one of these eager fans who can’t wait to see what’s coming. With Thanos defeated and the world settling back into whatever normalcy it can muster, along comes a spider to carry the torch and lead us into the next phase. Spider-Man: Far From Home may not be a perfect movie, but it’s a damned good follow-up to Endgame, and it might be the most fun you’ll have at the movies all summer.

Right off the bat, what’s most striking about Far From Home is the distance it gives itself from the frequent heavy-handedness of the Avengers movies. It serves as a reprieve from the violence and loss typical of those films, giving us an opportunity to grieve with our feet planted firmly on terrestrial ground. While the films of the MCU have always striven for emotional depth and thematic gravitas, their success rate is questionable.

Far From Home is different. It acknowledges the doom and gloom of some of its recent predecessors with a wink and a nod, then all but challenges you not to have fun with a story that is simpler and more down to earth than much of the series’ output. It might not be epic, but it’s honest, and I for one prefer the smaller approach.

Like Thor: Ragnarok, Far From Home is chock-full of wonderful ’80s throwback vibes and no shortage of laughs that perfectly walk the line between corny and current. But, where the former owes its aesthetic to cheesy sci-fi flicks like Flash Gordon, the latter mixes the comedic action of Big Trouble in Little China and the property damage of Die Hard with the fish-out-of-water travelogue of National Lampoon’s European Vacation. Throw in some John Hughes-style teen awkwardness and plenty of high-tech James Bond gadgetry and a pretty potent cocktail starts to emerge. However, Far From Home is very much its own film — one merely spiced by these heavy-hitting Reagan-era forebears. As such, its wild and varied influences serve as a jumping off point for a great story and a carefully calculated tone, rather than a crutch to fall back on.

Of course, a great cast helps and, dare I say, the Spider-Man crew is the best in the MCU. Tom Holland is so very far and away better than those other duds that have donned the tights over the years that I’m choosing to not even mention their names. This cast has chemistry for days, so much that I even liked Jake Gyllenhaal, who usually makes me cringe.

As they traipse around Europe on an ever-increasing but purposefully contrived school trip, Peter (Holland) misses every opportunity to impress MJ (Zendaya). Sometimes it’s an elemental monster that gets in the way, but mostly it’s his own nervousness. The pair — along with a marvelous supporting cast (I’ll take all the Martin Starr you can give me, thank you very much) — continuously shine, offering well-crafted and smart comedic breaks along with believable teenage tension. Give me this gang over the dour Avengers any day of the week.

Far From Home gives a few hints and clues about what’s in store for the next phase of MCU movies, but nothing definitive (something I’m perfectly fine with). I have no doubt that there’s plenty of darkness and catastrophe to come, but for now, I’m enjoying the break Far From Home has offered. Some of the action might be a bit too fast-paced for my liking, making it muddled and hard to follow, but this is a small gripe considering the liveliness of the story and the fun to be had. It’s an old-fashioned summer popcorn extravaganza that has managed to both take me back to my youth and make me eager for the future.

About James Rosario
James is a writer, record collector, wrestling nerd, and tabletop gamer living with his family in Asheville, North Carolina. He is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and contributes to The Daily Orca, Razorcake Magazine, and Mountain Xpress.

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