Spider-Man Does Europe in “Far from Home”
In April, Marvel Studios released Avengers: End Game, which was one of the biggest movie spectacles of all-time by any measure and the seeming end of an era for audiences. So, how to follow that up? A well-deserved vacation, right? Well, that’s exactly the backdrop for the newest Marvel flick, Spider-Man: Far from Home, as Peter Parker / Spider-Man goes to Europe on a class trip only to be forced back into action. Do not let that last sentence scare you off, however. Even though the stakes of this movie are lower than recent Marvel films, it packs laughs, action, and does a great job of transitioning into the next era of the Marvel film franchise.
The film is very conscious of the events from the previous Marvel film, in fact, the opening scene is a high school newscast that features an in memoriam to the fallen Avengers and discusses how people are moving on. For Peter Parker / Spider-Man (Tom Holland, Avengers: End Game, 2019), the death of Tony Stark / Iron Man has extra meaning as Stark has been mentoring him. Although Parker is willing to do public appearances as Spider-Man, it’s clear that he is not ready to resume his life as a hero with the Avengers. He even avoids a phone call from Nick Fury, played by Samuel L Jackson (Shaft, 2019). Although he has special abilities, Peter is still an awkward teenager in high school trying to find his way in the world. Right now, he is focused on his upcoming class trip through Europe, where he hopes to make his move on his crush, MJ (Zendaya, Smallfoot, 2018), and hang out with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon, Banana Split, 2018).
After a long flight, his class trip begins in Venice, where Parker and his classmates are led by their bumbling teachers / chaperones played by J.B. Smoove (Uncle Drew, 2018) and Martin Starr (Silicon Valley 2014-2019). Smoove and Starr are reliable comedic actors and provide laughs in nearly all of their scenes. After checking into their run-down hotel that is sinking into the water, the students explore the city while Peter looks for the right opportunity to get MJ alone. Suddenly, as the students walk along the Grand Canal, a giant water monster rises up and starts to attack the city. Peter quickly grabs a mask to shield his identity and swings into action, once again, to save lives. The battle with the strange monster does not go well until a man dressed in green with a purple cape and glass orb on top of his head suddenly flies into the fray. This mystery man shoots energy blasts that ultimately destroy the monster while Spider-Man is sidelined.
That night as Parker and his friends recount the attack back at the hotel, they discuss this new hero that the Italian media are calling “Mysterio”. When Parker returns to his room, he is surprised to find Nick Fury, who takes him into a secret base nearby after chastising him for ignoring his calls. Fury has been tracking this monster in other parts of the world and introduces Spider-Man to Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal, The Sisters Brothers, 2018). Mysterio turns out to be a man named Quentin Beck and explains that he is from Earth, but from a different universe. Mysterio / Beck came to Nick Fury to help fight the monster that destroyed his world. Fury asks if Spider-Man will step up and help them defeat the next monster, but Parker is struggling with his responsibilities as a super-hero especially without Tony Stark, and his desire for a normal life.
Spider-Man: Far from Home is a very entertaining summer action film that basically doubles as a teenage rom-com. Although Marvel Studios seems like it cannot miss at this point, there were questions about how they would respond without Robert Downey Jr. and other Marvel regulars. The movie, directed by Jon Watts, who directed Spiderman: Homecoming) is a great step into the next phase of the Marvel universe as the film does a really nice of job of transitioning the audience from the wake of the last movie into the plot of this movie. In fact, the first third of the movie is spent on the story and character development with hardly any special effects and action. This was a smart choice as the cast works well together and audiences will find it fun to watch them interacting. Also, when the heavy action sequences kick in, audiences are especially invested in these characters.
Tom Holland, now in his fifth appearance as Spider-Man, has nicely settled into this role even though he is just 23 years old. Zendaya (The OA, 2019), who plays his love interest, is very effective as well as deploying a more sarcastic, deadpan personality compared to the enthusiastic, but awkward personality of Peter Parker. Finally, Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio does a really good job in his scenes with Tom Holland and ultimately portrays a complex character.
In addition to the strong performance and humor, another undeniably fun aspect of this movie was the European landmarks that served as sets. Audiences are treated to picturesque scenes in Venice, Switzerland, Prague and London where they skillfully use the cities to their advantage.
Although this movie is a solid summer blockbuster, those who haven’t seen the previous Marvel movies may find it confusing. The film may also be trying to be too funny at times especially within the first 45 minutes, when the action is limited. Still, for those looking for a fun 2 hours out of the summer heat, Spider-Man may be your best bet.
Bottom Line: Marvel Studios continues its streak of solid Blockbusters with Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Starring: Tom Holland II (Peter Parker), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Zendaya (MJ), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill), JB Smoove (Mr. Dell), Jacob Batalon (Ned Leeds), Martin Starr (Mr. Harrington), Tony Revolori (Flash Thompson), Marisa Tomei (May Parker), Jake Gyllenhaal (Quentin Beck/Mysterio)
Studio: Sony Pictures
Running Time: 129 minutes
Jessica DeLong © July 8, 2019