Saturday 13 July 2019

Spider-Man: Far From Home ★★★★☆

As I get closer to the wrong side of 30, I’ve come to understand that Spider-Man is likely to be a constant in my life, regenerating like a young Doctor Who. It started with Tobey Maguire in Sam Raimi’s original trilogy, which had its moments. After an ill-fated third firm, Andrew Garfield had a crack with a reboot that spawned two more movies in 2012 and 2014. The latest to don the suit is Tom Holland, who originally signed for a trilogy in 2017.

Far From Home was placed in a difficult position, being the first major release after a film which took Avatar’s spot as the *highest grossing movie of all time. (*With the help of a rerelease to give it a final push over the line.) Holland’s Spiderman has been reverse-snapped back out of the hoover bag following the events of Endgame, but everyone else that returned is five years older. Phase Three of Marvel’s saga has finished with the majority of the original Avengers out of commission in some shape or form, and the world is slowly beginning to move on without their old heroes.

It’s time for a new generation to step to the plate, and Tony Stark chose Spiderman to fill his cold, iron boots. For now, his former protege looks to Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) for guidance, as his school trip to Europe is spent begrudgingly helping the debuting Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). The new hero appears from the multiverse with grave news for the Avenger. 

Once again, Jacob Batalon is there to provide moral support as Ned, and a significant portion of the film is spent on Parker’s relationship with MJ (Zendaya). It’s a love story at heart, punctuated by lots of action and endless jokes. Spiderman is understandably wary following his revival, and he’s desperate to cling to his past dealing with smaller stakes, but Fury is determined to make him step up, and he has a farewell present from Stark to consider.

The lighter tone is noticeable compared to the bitterness of Endgame, although it references the former constantly. The two-hour runtime causes it to drag in places, as we’re taken around some of the biggest cities that Europe has to offer. From Paris to London, Peter’s class and their teachers (Martin Starr and J.B. Smoove) get dragged around the world, and the story often plays second fiddle to the backdrop. It’s not hard to keep up with a few obvious twists, and while it was never going to match the universe-ending stakes of its predecessor, Far From Home still falters around the hour mark. It picks up towards the end, and it has a great stinger, but it does feel a bit bloated overall.

Despite my soft spot for Maquire’s dorky interpretation, it’s clear that Holland was a great pick to push the franchise forward. He’s awkward, and he offers a different dynamic to the self-assured heroes we’re used to. Given how things are going, I’ll probably get to see at least a few more Peter Parker’s in my lifetime. This trilogy could be the best of the three so far, as long as Spiderman finally gets out of the shadow of the man he can’t stop mentioning. It’s not unmissable, but there’s enough of that patented Marvel charm to make it all worthwhile.

James Millin-Ashmore

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