AVENGERS: ENDGAME SPOILERS AHEAD. NO SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME SPOILERS THOUGH, I PROMISE
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) could really use a break. I mean, he traveled to outer space, died, came back to life, rode around on a flying horse and watched his mentor, Tony Stark, die. That seems like a ripe opportunity to take a breather. His High School field trip to Europe seems like the perfect chance for just that as well as getting closer to his crush MJ (Zendaya). But wouldn’t you know it, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), just like the blues in the Frasier theme song, is calling (oh my mercy!) and needs Peter to ditch his class trip and help him and newbie superhero Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) take down a bunch of evil beasties known as The Elementals. A simple summer vacation is turning into something a whole lot more complex.
Despite following up on plot threads established in the expansive time-traveling storyline of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far From Home, thankfully, uses that films plot as more of a springboard for its own story rather than coming off as an extended commercial for an earlier Marvel Cinematic Universe title. The smaller-scale High School comedy trappings of Spider-Man: Homecoming that proved to be so delightful in that feature aren’t just maintained in Far From Home, they lean into them even more here to the point that this summer blockbuster frequently comes off as a zany High School road trip comedy rather than something in the vein of The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Comedy is nothing new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (remember how Ant-Man and the Wasp played like a classic screwball comedy?) but Far From Home is an especially humorous entry in this long-running series. Much of this humor comes from the supporting cast, including Martin Starr in a hysterical supporting role who really gets to shine here as one of the two teacher chaperones on this field trip who takes his responsibilities for the safety of his students very seriously. Plenty of laughs also come from playing off the humorous awkwardness of Peter trying to juggle his superhero and High School lives, a balance that’s been the cornerstone of pretty much every prior Spider-Man film adaptations.
Thankfully, Far From Home breathes new life into this dynamic simply by using it for some truly creative and humorous comedy that ranges from the little social blunders (like airplane seating) to more over-the-top incidents (like Peter trying to get an embarrassing photo deleted from a classmates phone). Far From Home also ensures a fresh execution of this concept by making sure it isn’t just the prospect of being responsible with great powers that Peter has to deal with but also the presence of a super duper tense Nick Fury. It’s one of the many exciting ways Far From Home incorporates elements of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe into its story while making sure those elements serve as stand-alone Spider-Man story rather than the other way around.
Also shining in this installment is the direction of the action scenes. Far From Home expands the scope and scale greatly from the action sequences of Homecoming and the results are some spectacular (no pun intended) spectacle that are filmed and edited wonderfully. Even a nighttime duel between Spider-Man in a darkly colored suit and a gigantic molten lava beastie is always visually coherent thanks to cleverly incorporated sources of light (the scene takes place in a carnival so lots of opportunities for non-natural light) and exciting choreography that takes advantage of the abilities of both Spider-Man and Mysterio. Major props to director Jon Watts and the individuals responsible for the assorted action sequences here that, in their biggest moments, can be quite sweeping, though, thankfully, the film knows when to keep certain showdowns at a more intimate scale.
Also impressing on a visual level is anything related to the character Mysterio, whose costume looks absolutely incredible (yes, it’s really neat to see the fishbowl helmet in a live-action movie, I’ll admit it) and his specific superpowers are realized in a trippy manner that definitely renders him a distinct creation you won’t be forgetting anytime soon. This is especially true since Jake Gyllenhaal imbues the character with such an entertaining performance, especially in any of the tender-hearted scenes he shares with Tom Holland, a performer who also excels in Far From Home. For his fifth turn as Spider-Man, Holland manages to uncover new layers to the character by realistically portraying a kid caught between so many influences shaping who he will become as a person.
Holland also shares adorably awkward chemistry with Zendaya in their scenes together in the rare superhero movie romance, much like those early scenes of Peter and Mary Jane talking to each other in their backyards in Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man, that actually feels like it could have come from reality. Their scenes together are utterly charming and so is the rest of Far From Home for that matter. This isn’t exactly a life-changing movie and it’s certainly not without its share of flaws (some CGI stand-in’s for Spidey don’t gel with live-action environments and there are some flashes of clunky editing) but when a creative and fun movie like Far From Home leaves me constantly grinning ear to ear, I can’t help but sing its praises. This may be the seventh live-action solo Spider-Man movie, but Spider-Man: Far From Home is so fresh and creatively zippy that it feels like something totally brand-new.