The world has changed. For those who witnessed the traumatic effects of The Snap and the subsequent events, the MCU and the world it portrays will never be the same again. For one particular Avenger, however, it’s especially personal. And that’s where we find Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, in his second solo outing, Spider-Man:Far From Home.
A lot of our friendly neighbourhood superhero’s appeal has been his impudence and irreverence, all of which was very much to the fore as he struggled to come to grips with his newly found powers in Spider-Man:Homecoming. A kid bursting to be allowed to prove himself to the world, he felt he was constantly frustrated by the old guard, even his benevolent mentor Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Junior). It’s no spoiler to say – this is a review that follows the #dontspoilspidey plea – that his guiding light is no longer there and now he has to find his own way. It’s a lot for a sixteen year old to cope with so what does he do? Brush it all under the carpet and go on a school trip to Europe with his mates, including simmering love interest MJ (Zendaya).
But we all know the saying. “With great power comes great responsibility.” And it’s not long before he finds that the world now expects him to step up and be the hero he’s meant to be – except he’s not in the least bit sure that he can do it. This is a more introspective, more reflective and more insecure Peter than we’ve seen before or, put another way, he’s starting to grow up. It also means that, for the likes of Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) he’s actually more of a handful than ever. As for the world, well, it sends him on a fantastical journey that, at times, isn’t in the Marvel style that we’re all used to and love. Yes, a changed world indeed.
It’s a film very much of two halves. The first is typical, high octane MCU fodder, but points in the direction of something much more for the second half and boy, does it deliver! The result is a spectacular rollercoaster of a ride, one which will have you glued to the screen so that, not only will you be completely absorbed by the action, but you’re less likely to miss the little hints of what’s to come. Blink and you’ll miss them, but it does strike a mischievous note, making the audience feel they’re being playing with in a similar way to the web slinger himself. As a bridge between the finality of Endgame and the next phase of the MCU, Far From Home emphatically nails it, taking Peter/Spidey forward as a character and a hero, but never forgetting that he’s part of a much wider universe.
The emphasis this time round on Peter as a person allows Tom Holland to demonstrate what he’s made of as an actor, from all his superhero doubts to his agonising longing to tell MJ how he feels constantly niggling away at him. He’s maturing into a great Spidey – perhaps the best yet – but, with the character still not quite ready to go it alone, he’s given a new mentor for this instalment. Step forward Jake Gyllenhaal, in full super hero uniform, having the time of his life as new arrival Beck, providing all the reassurance that the teenager needs. In a summer that’s kicked off with a slew of disappointing sequels, the good news is that Spider-Man:Far From Home keeps its promises, in terms of spectacle, story and action. Makers of other franchises under fire take note. This is how you do it.
Freda Cooper | [rating=4]
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | Cert: 12A | UK, 2 July (2019) | Sony Pictures | Dir. Jon Watts | Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L Jackson, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Marisa Tomei