Holland, Zendaya and Gyllenhaal Excite In SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME

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Spider-Man Far From Home starts July 2, 2019

I really enjoyed Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man series, at least the first two films. The inclusion of Macho Man Randy Savage as Bonesaw more than made up for the very slight shortcomings of the Green Goblin. Willem Dafoe was great, but that suit--there just was no good reason to not use the classic look. The second movie, with Alfred Molina's excellent turn as Doctor Octopus, was a rare sequel that surpassed the original. Beyond those two films, well, let's focus on the positive. The Marvel Cinematic Universe was launched and over the course of 22 films it became a paradigm shift in cinematic storytelling.

Marvel, now owned by Disney, wanted the movie rights back for all of their characters. Easier said than done, but Sony smartly met Disney half-way. They worked out a timeshare, and Spider-Man debuted in Captain America: The Civil War. The newest webslinger, English actor Tom Holland, is perfect as Peter Parker. In short order he becomes the emotional touchstone for Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark (aka Iron Man). When Thanos snaps the Infinity Gauntlet and disintegrates Spidey along with half of the universe, the fan reaction was intense. Having come back to the world after five years of "death," how would Peter Parker pick up the pieces of his life? 

That's where Spider-Man: Far From Home begins, with everyone's favorite webhead trying to pick up the pieces of his life. Possible spoilers ahead, so turn back now if you don't want to know. He's back at school, where classmate Betty Brant (Angourie Rice) conveniently fills in a few details of the infamous snap. She and many of her classmates simply disappeared on that terrible day. Five years later, they reappeared, (thanks to Tony Stark's counter-snap) right where they had been. While no time had passed for them, the world had moved on. The kids they were playing basketball with who had not disappeared were now graduated and working or attending college. Younger siblings left behind were now older than they were. Aunt May's (Marisa Tomei) home had been sold. You get the picture. This information is presented in a school news program format that manages to be funny, informative and touching simultaneously. 

It's a little more than Pete can handle, so he and his classmates who had "blipped out," Ned (Jacob Batalon), MJ (Zendaya), Flash (Tony Revelori), and others sign up for a school-chaperoned trip to Europe for the summer. Despite constant calls from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Peter leaves his Spider-Man costume at home so he can focus on Mary Jane and decompressing. Of course, this is a Spidey story, and nothing ever goes that easy for our hero. 

Enter Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), a new hero, it seems, who quickly gains favor with Fury and his top aid Maria Hill. Mysterio turns up time and again, utilizing technology from his alternate reality to bring down these new elemental monstrosities that pop up in Mexico and... you guessed it... Europe. Naturally, this calls for a patented Marvel Superhero Team Up! Peter is impressed by Mysterio's technology and gives him Stark's glasses, including access to the embedded artificial intelligence. But is Mysterio really what he claims to be? Is giving him access to Stark Tech a good idea? Is ghosting a super spy like Fury a good idea? Marvel true-believers will understand the ramifications of those questions, so I'll leave the plot there.

Gyllenhaal is very good as Mysterio. He was in the running against Maguire to play Spider-Man way back when, so it's nice to finally see the fine actor in the MCU in any capacity. He and Holland show good chemistry when they share the screen. Of course, Holland is so charming as Spidey that it would be a huge surprise if the didn't have good chemistry with someone. Zandaya is a very different Mary Jane than an old comic book geek like me is used to, but she performs admirably and I wouldn't mind if they gave her a supersuit or an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in MCU Phase 4. In Spider-Man: Far From Home, nearly every time she's on screen she steals the scene. Samuel L. Jackson is his usual badass self, though his Nick Fury had some dialogue and reactions that seemed a little off-kilter. You'll understand why if you stay until the very end of the credits. Samuel L. Jackson is his usual badass self, though his Nick Fury had some dialogue and reactions that seemed a little off-kilter. You'll understand why if you stay until the very end of the credits. My only let down was the elemental monsters. They could have been done as Sandman, Hydro-Man, The Molten Man, etc., but I guess that would complicate Mysterio's plot too much.

And of course you should stay for the credits! There is one in the middle and one at the end, and both are game-changers. I can't wait to see how those scenes impact Spider-Man and the rest of the MCU in the near future! John Watts has hit it out of the ballpark with his direction on this one. Spider-Man: Far From Home is another strong entry in the MCU, a fine Spider-Man flick and sets the stage for some awesome stories as the mighty Marvel Cinematic Universe marches on. Until next time, as Stan would say, ”Excelsior!"

4.5 / 5.0