“Spider-Man: Far From Home” (Rated T)
Cast: Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya
Genre: Fantasy/ Sci-Fi
Regular readers of this column will recognize I have a love-hate relationship with comic book-based superhero action movies.
I hate many of them! With their inane and insane plots, and their ridiculous villains seeking world or universe domination and/or annihilation, most often resulting in the obliteration of usually just New York City (but sometimes Los Angeles and London).
Most flicks in the genre leave me lukewarm, though. And I leave the theater partially deaf, after two hours of noise, mixed in with a couple jokes here and there, and a sprinkling of chemistry between the actors in the cast.
But there have been some that I’ve actually loved. High on that list are dramatic standouts like “Logan” and “Black Panther”, and especially the more humorous, less ponderous, less pompous ones like the original “Iron Man”, or “Deadpool” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”.
Among those on the love list – “Spider-Man: Homecoming”. This umpteenth reboot of the “Spider-Man” franchise from two years ago was arguably the best of all the live-action movies featuring the web-slinger, including those beloved ones starring Tobey Maguire.
I ranked it among the best movies of all of 2017, and second only to “Logan” (and above the massively hyped “Wonder Woman”), of films released that year in the superhero genre. I gushed that it would “likely be the blueprint for the more family-friendly fare” in the genre. And looked forward to the inevitable sequel.
Not seeking to mess with the success of “Homecoming”, that sequel, “Spider-Man: Far From Home”, sees the return of Director Jon Watts, and two of the former film’s six credited screenwriters too – Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers.
As Marvel movies are increasingly like watching a serialized television show – if you miss an episode, you may miss a lot – you probably need to have watched this year’s most ginormous movie, “Avengers: End Game” (already the second highest grossing film of all time), to fully grasp what’shappening in “Far From Home”.
It picks up following all the dramatic events in “End Game” (and if you’re one of the six people who hasn’t seen it, I won’t spoil that for you), with Spider-Man having to step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.
Like before, and unlike so many of these movies, the motivations of the villains here are a little more grounded in reality, and much less unreasonable. To say any more than that would reveal spoilers.
But the performances are great as usual. We get more proof that Tom Holland is a fantastic Spider-Man, possibly the best yet. His supporting cast is top-notch. Once again, Zendaya is a revelation as MJ. Samuel L. Jackson appears to be having a good time, as per norm, as Nick Fury. And Jake Gyllenhaal is a fun addition as Mysterio.
This is a very likable and enjoyable picture. But it doesn’t quite achieve the glorious heights of “Homecoming”, and it doesn’t feel as special.
Also, my appetite to see Peter Parker/Spider-Man as an awkward teenager may be sated now. I’ve had more than enough of the teen-angst, and I want to see Spider-Man as an adult, especially after last year’s excellent Oscar-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” opened us up to all those thrilling possibilities.
However, that may be a little ways off, based on the ending in “Far From Home”. As usual with these Marvel pictures, there are two additional scenes – one at the very end of the credits, and a critical, pivotal one in the middle of the credits. That one sets things up for what could be an amazing follow-up film.
Hopefully, it will be something else to possibly love!
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.