Spider-Man: Far From Home

 

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In his fifth cinematic showing, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man comes into his own in a thrilling and even rather sweet rush of escapism.

   
Spider-Man Far From Home

Euro trashed: Tom Holland

 

Spider-Man may be far from home, but at least he’s back on earth. Following the intergalactic shenanigans featured in the grandiose, congested and bloated Avengers films, we can now focus on a single sympathetic superhero. A natural successor to the late Tony Stark – aka Iron Man – Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is a welcome antidote to the smug, cynical, obscenely rich crime fighter played by Robert Downey Jr. Thankfully, he’s still a relative innocent and seems more preoccupied with winning the affections of ‘MJ’ (Zendaya) than saving the universe.

 

As Peter and his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) prepare themselves for a school trip to Venice and Paris, Peter plots the most romantic setting he can think of in which to make his feelings known to MJ. Paris seems a logical location, preferably on top of the Eiffel Tower. Much of this preamble feels like National Lampoon's European Vacation for kids, and one wishes that, for just a moment, Peter could shapeshift into Ferris Bueller. And the class chaperons mugged up by J.B. Smoove and Martin Starr hardly alleviate the tame silliness, prompting a capricious desire for some havoc and heroics sooner rather than later. We know there is trouble ahead, as prior to the credits we have seen Nick Fury and Maria Hill (Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders) encounter a Titanic rock monster in the remains of Ixtenco, Mexico. He, like so many rock monsters before him, vents his rage by pummelling the ground and setting off destructive tremors. Cut to Venice and we discover that he has a brother, a monstrous colossus composed of water, who seems hell-bent on demolishing the picturesque city. Just then a new figure – with a head like a Belisha beacon – flies to the rescue and, after much devastation, defeats the watery beast. He is Mysterio – aka Quentin Beck – and is played with soulful disinterest by Jake Gyllenhaal. It transpires that Mysterio is from a parallel variant of Earth – version 883.0 – whose own planet has been devastated by the Elementals, giant forces of water, earth, wind and fire. However, Mysterio is unable to defeat these beasts on his own, so it’s time for Spider-Man to hang up his school blazer and step up to the plate.

 

As Spider-Man: Far From Home gathers momentum and childish things are put aside, the film flexes its grip. There are numerous complications and the narrative is skilfully ratcheted up by the scripters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, combining dire threat, thrills, humour and even excitement. The innately likeable Tom Holland helps to keep the film on its toes, while the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and Jon Favreau provide some dry, grown-up humour. Anybody who’s never seen a Marvel movie might find a lot to untangle, but hang in there and all should be made clear. The movie certainly ends on a cliffhanger, ensuring that Tom Holland’s bank balance will remain healthy for a few years to come.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, J.B. Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Tony Revolori, Marisa Tomei, Jake Gyllenhaal, Angourie Rice, Numan Acar, Remy Hill, Peter Billingsley, Nicholas Gleaves, Claire Rushbrook, J.K. Simmons, Robert Downey Jr, Ben Mendelsohn.

 

Dir Jon Watts, Pro Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal, Screenplay Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, Ph Matthew J. Lloyd, Pro Des Claude Paré, Ed Leigh Folsom Boyd and Dan Lebental, Music Michael Giacchino, Costumes Anna B. Sheppard, Dialect coach Rick Lipton.

 

Columbia Pictures/Marvel Studios/Pascal Pictures-Sony Pictures.

129 mins. USA. 2019. Rel: 2 July 2019. Cert. 12A.