National MCU’s European Vacation (Spider-Man: Far From Home review)

After the monster of a blockbuster that was Avengers: Endgame, ‘Spider-Man: Far from Home’ seemed like a terrible idea. Coming out only three months later, it seemed sure that Marvel would fall flat after undertaking the aforementioned Mammoth task. What a joy it is to say that this Spider-Man sequel proved me wrong, and also proves the MCU is far from over.

Following the events of Endgame, ‘Far From Home’ deals with the aftermath of the snap and the returning of friends and family after being gone for five years. Deciding he needs a break from being a superhero, Peter Parker (Spider-Man) goes on the school science trip to Europe where he’ll face his toughest challenge yet; telling MJ he likes her. He’ll also have to team up with a superhero from the multiverse called Mysterio as they fight off The Elementals, a group of giant monsters made from the core elements. Twists and turns galore across several countries culminate in a thoroughly enjoyable story with moments of grandeur and even more moments of tiny character beats.

After this film, I still maintain that Tom Holland is the best person to have played Spider-Man in any adaptation. His heart, charm, charisma and awkwardness are perfectly matched to the character, a teenager who has superpowers but is struggling to find the right place in which to use them. Mourning the loss of his mentor and struggling with growing up and all the usual teenage problems that accompany that, he’s having to balance two lives, and that conflict is maintained throughout the film. Returning cast members include Samuel L. Jackson as the always brilliant Nick Fury, Cobie Smulders as S.H.I.E.L.D agent Maria Hill, Jon Favreau as “Happy” Hogan, head of security at Stark Industries, Marisa Tomei as May Parker, Peter’s aunt, and the always wonderful Jacob Batalon and Zendeya as Peter’s best friend and love interest respectively. The chemistry between Zendeya and Tom Holland is utterly perfect, with the awkward cuteness of any teenage relationship making for thoroughly entertaining viewing.

The big new addition to this cast is Jake Gyllenhaal as Quentin Beck/Mysterio. A superhero from Earth-833 in the multiverse, his world was destroyed by The Elementals and now he has come to our dimension to help save the planet. Gyllenhaal’s performance is fantastic (duh, it’s Jake Gyllenhaal) and as the film gets further on, he is given more and more to get his teeth into as the character expands beyond what I ever expected (as someone who is unfamiliar with the comic-book source material of the character).

The film is kind of three films merged into one. First and foremost, it’s obviously a superhero film where Spider-Man must fight CGI villains in smashy crashy action scenes, but it’s also partly a rom-com between Peter and MJ, and partly a flat out 1980’s road trip comedy ala. National Lampoons European Vacation. The emotional moments are perfectly judged, the jokes are constant and hilarious, and the action is exciting. Not only that, there are also moments of genuine darkness, with a certain plot point leaving the MCU in a very bleak place going forward. Granted, sometimes the story does skip over important elements, and the predictable three-act structure of your typical superhero film is in full swing (not a Spider-Man pun). However, as a palate cleanser to Endgame, it was a perfect closer to the third phase of the MCU.

Overall, Spider-Man: Far From Home is still very much essential blockbuster viewing. Proving story, humour, heart and action can go hand in hand when done right, it shows that the MCU still has a wealth of characters, stories and twists up its sleeve.

5 stars 4

 

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