Ever since Tom Holland flipped through a German airport and pinched Captain America’s shield right out from under his nose with an awkward “hi everyone”, you feel that Sony Pictures finally have the Spider-Man franchise they’ve always been striving for. With his appearance in no less than 4 MCU movies; the Venom movie somehow scoring huge at the box office AND the magnificent Into The Spider-Verse webbing itself an honest to god Oscar all in the space of a mere 3 years, you can’t help but feel the popularity of one Peter Parker is at an all time high – and I haven’t even mentioned the PS4 game yet.
Spidey’s last solo MCU release; Homecoming, was a wonderfully frothy joy, combining John Hughes high school movie traits with zippy action to give us a wall crawler that felt classic while still feeling fresh and vitaly new. The sequel however comes in the aftermath of Endgame, Marvel’s super-epic that featured the death of non-other than Tony Stark and contained more people in costume than a unisex changing room at comicon and therefore has to carry the weight of the metric ton of baggage that comes with it.
Well, unsurprisingly, Spider-Man: Far From Home handles such weighty issues the way it’s hero handles everything else: with remarkable athleticism, a wealth of jokes and a shit-load of genuine heart.
8 months after Hulk’s counter-snap brought back everyone dusted by Thanos, a burned out Peter Parker is feeling the heroic sacrifice of his mentor and merely wants to go away an chill on his school’s European vacation. However, this being the MCU means that giant creatures formed of fire, water, wind and earth are popping up and attacking the same various cities across the world that Peter’s class are visiting. Intercepted by Nick Fury in Venice, Peter Parker is introduced to a fishbowl helmeted warrior from another dimension named Mysterio (aka. Quentin Beck) who suggests teaming with Parker to attempt to subdue these “Elementals”. Peter, on the other hand, just wants to try and move his relationship with MJ along and not have to worry about the immensely dangerous tech Tony Stark has left in his care in a typically irresponsible move. As Spider-Man and Mysterio bond over their bouts of monster fighting, Peter starts to notice an insidious conspiracy starting to form around him – where are all these monsters coming from? What exactly is Mysterio’s deal? And is MJ getting a little too close to Peter’s web swinging secret?
A wonderfully fun, superhero version of Eurotrip teen comedies, Far From Home continues in the same rich vein of sweetly positive thrills that tickled my web shooters so much while viewing Spider-Man: Homecoming. A film where virtually nothing is what it seems (even the end-credits sting has a shocking reveal), if for some reason you’re reading this before seeing the film (how the hell would that even be possible) then stop, watch it and your butt back here because watching this flick utterly unaware of all the mid-film subterfuge will garner best results.
Having Tom Holland and Jake Gyllanhall as your leads don’t hurt either, the former embodying the role of the long suffering Wall Crawler arguably better than anyone before him while being in a perpetual state of anxiety and the latter imbues Mysterio with the same intense m, weirdo energy he displayed in Nightcrawler. Arguably one of the most enigmatic names in Spidey’s rogue’s gallery (and owner of surely one of the dumbest costume designs in comic book history) the movie does incredibly right by him, gifting him with comic-accurate duds that somehow feels both practical and are insanely cool – mist filled fishbowl heads are the new black, apparently… It also allows him to fill the second half of the movie with enough rug-pulls to de-carpet a mansion also those with even a passing knowledge with the works of Mysterio probably won’t experience the full force of this movie’s equivalent of the senses shattering Vulture twist from Homecoming, but an spectacular scene in which our hero stumbles through hallucinatory holographic imagery rivals Doctor Strange in it’s psychedelic nature and is possibly THE most Spider-Man scene ever committed to celluloid.
Samuel L. Jackson returns as a more classic, grumpier Nick Fury after his lighter turn in Captain Marvel and Zendaya and Jacob Batalon as MJ and Ned continue their winning streak as Peter’s budding love interest and support system respectively.
Returning director Jon Watts and the script are both light-footed and nimble – although the perky joke rate arguably doesn’t score as many bullseyes as Homecoming and the film can’t truly shift into high gear until everybody’s cards are firmly on the table – but the final hour is a virtual non-stop joygasm with twists, turns and a breakneck firefight in, on and around London’s Tower Bridge.
Yes, Far From Home doesn’t quite nail the landing as adroitly as Homecoming (which technically leaves Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 arguably still the king of the Spider-flicks -although let’s not count out the remarkable Into The Spider-Verse) but considering the sheer wealth of quality Spider-product that’s come out on multiple formats in only a few years, if Spider-Man 2 is indeed still the best of the bunch, it’s only by the tiniest width of a single web line.
As of writing, the Spider-Man franchise is famously on the verge of blowing up big-time with the crushing news of Marvel and Sony falling out being obliterated by them promptly making up again for at least two more appearances. A genuinely shocking mid-credit sting that not only returns to us the unfettered gift of the return/reboot of JK Simmon’s J. Jonah Jameson but causes seismic upheavals in Peter Parker’s status quo hint at even bigger threats for Parker to quip and thwip, but whatever a third Spidey film brings (apparently Doctor Strange and the return of Spider-actors Maguire and Garfield, no less), as long as Watts can channel the same boundless energy he conjured for the first two we’ll all be swinging pretty.
I once described watching Homecoming to someone as pouring pure joy directly into your eyeballs, I guess Far From Home would be the equivalent of injecting it between your toes…
That Parker luck is looking pretty good these days…