DIRECTOR: Jon Watts

CAST: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, J.B. Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice, Hemky Madera, Numan Acar, Remy Hii, Oli Hill, Zach Barack

RUNNING TIME: 129 mins

CERTIFICATE: 12A

BASICALLY…: During a school trip to Europe, Peter Parker (Holland) is recruited by Nick Fury (Jackson) to suit up as Spider-Man for a fight against new interdimensional villains…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

WARNING: This review contains major spoilers for Avengers: Endgame – but honestly, if by this point in the year you haven’t at least heard about what happens in the film that is currently the #2 movie of all time worldwide (damn you, Avatar!), then you only have yourself to blame. With that being said, let’s get to the review…

Last year, Marvel Studios followed up its biggest and most emotionally devastating film to date with a fun little adventure starring some of its lighter heroes as they encountered new friends, new foes, and a whole heap of light-hearted shenanigans. This year, however, things are totally different – Marvel Studios is following up its biggest and most emotionally devastating film to date with a fun little adventure starring some of its lighter heroes as they encounter new friends, new foes, and a whole heap of light-hearted shenanigans… only this time, it’s in Europe.

It’s hard not to see the similarity between Ant-Man and the Wasp and now Spider-Man: Far From Home in the sense that both were scheduled to come right after the studio’s big event movies, but it makes complete sense for them to suddenly shift the tone from grand and epic, sometimes even bleak, ensemble storytelling to something much chirpier and crowd-pleasing, because after the endings of both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, audiences definitely need a break from the heavy drama as much as Peter Parker wants a break from everything else in this new film. Thankfully, just like Marvel’s lighter entry from last year, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a fun and entertaining superhero sequel that feels a lot more confident in its own skin and contains enough laughs, thrills and quirky antics to serve as a nice palette-cleanser following the movie immediately preceding it.

The film picks up a few months following the conclusion of Avengers: Endgame: Peter Parker (Tom Holland), as well as half the population of the planet, has been resurrected after turning to dust five years prior, but although he is focusing not just on resuming his studies at high school (a plot hole that’s hilariously explained in the opening minutes) as well as his upcoming class trip to Europe, but also his duties as the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, he is still mourning over the loss of his beloved mentor Tony Stark. Understandably, he wants to just get away from the superhero responsibilities for a little while and have fun on his trip with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and his classmate MJ (Zendaya), who Peter plans on expressing his feelings towards at some point during the holiday – but his much-needed break is rudely interrupted by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who recruits him for a brand-new mission. As it turns out, there are a few other-worldly monsters known as Elementals causing havoc in major European cities, and the only person keeping them at bay is a cloaked warrior named Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), who claims to be from an alternate universe and seems to possess some extraordinary powers that the public, who is quick to dub him “Mysterio”, easily get behind. As Peter assists Fury, Beck and the small team of agents on their mission, he must also figure out what kind of hero he must be in a world where most of the original Avengers are now pretty much gone, and whether or not he can even fill the huge void left behind by Stark.

While Spider-Man: Homecoming was an overall entertaining movie and a good integration of the character into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (his debut appearance in Captain America: Civil War notwithstanding), there were times when you could feel the pressure on the filmmakers to do the near-impossible and reboot the character for the second time in a decade in a manner that didn’t feel like a rehash, and although they largely succeeded you could sense that director Jon Watts – who until then had only directed a couple of much smaller movies like Cop Car – didn’t entirely feel at ease with a much bigger budget than he was used to, with some of the action scenes not being particularly well executed and a few noticeable clashes of tone. Here, though, you can tell that Watts is a lot more comfortable in this universe, as it’s more focused than the previous film as well as tighter and better crafted in the action department, as he’s able to bring to life some enjoyable set-pieces that combine solid, though not always convincing, CGI with practical sets and a bounding sense of energy. This film is much more of an adventure movie than Homecoming, which largely adopted the tone of a John Hughes teen comedy and felt a little more contained than the international exploits in this movie, and Watts has seriously stepped up to the plate with a newfound confidence, which in turn has granted him the ability to inject more life and enjoyment into his version of Marvel’s web-slinger.

Tom Holland has now fully embodied the spirit of both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, more so than either one of his predecessors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, and he’s more likeable than ever in how he shares great chemistry with every actor he works opposite, from veterans like Samuel L. Jackson and Jake Gyllenhaal to fresher faces like Jacob Batalon (who gets an amusing side-plot that sees him embarking on a sudden whirlwind romance with one of his classmates) and Zendaya who, like Holland, has some great moments where she’s genuinely sweet and also legitimately funny. Holland easily carries this movie, while Gyllenhaal – without getting into exact specifics about his character, but anyone who knows this guy from the comics can easily figure it out – is having an absolute blast every time he’s on screen. Both are also central to one of the most surreal sequences in the entire MCU to date, which puts even several scenes from Doctor Strange to shame with just how out-there and even kind of horrifying some of the imagery can be, and it’s bound to either traumatise audience members or leave them in a confused, but impressed, state of awe.

There are some things that don’t entirely work; it’s a predictable movie, especially if you know a certain character from the comics, so sometimes you are just sitting there waiting for the movie to catch up with you, instead of actually buying some of the things they try throwing at you in order to lure you away from the obvious. Some jokes don’t always land, with a couple of them going on for far too long, even after you’ve correctly predicted the punchline that, again, you’re just waiting for the movie to reveal, and there’s a sub-plot about a rival suitor for MJ’s affections that kind of goes nowhere.

Despite its flaws, this is overall a much stronger Spider-Man MCU movie that’s fun, enjoyable, and the perfect way to relieve the hard drama that dominated the most recent MCU movie. What’s more, this movie’s end-credits scenes set up some very promising directions for this particular iteration of the character to go in, and if these movies do end up getting better and better, then I am all for what they eventually do – but from what I hear, a certain deceased Avenger is finally about to get her own movie next…

SO, TO SUM UP…

Spider-Man: Far From Home is a much more confident movie than the previous MCU solo outing for the web-slinger, which means there’s more focus and better action as well as the huge sense of fun and insanely likeable presence of Tom Holland that the last movie also had, which are enough to overlook a couple of the notable flaws such as a somewhat predictable plot.

Check out Spider-Man: Far From Home showtimes in London
on Walloh.