You can take Spider-Man out of New York, but you can’t take the familiar tropes out of a “Spider-Man” movie.
In “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” Peter Parker finally leaves New York for a European expedition with his fellow high school students. While he tries to leave the Spidey suit at home, trouble follows anyway.
Monsters made of water and fire, known as Elementals, have crossed through the multiverse that was opened up by Thanos’s “Snap” in “Avengers: Infinity War,” and it’s up to Spider-Man and a fish-bowl-helmet-sporting hero (played by Jake Gyllenhaal, dubbed Mysterio by Parker’s classmates) to defeat them.
There might be some other shady stuff happening behind the scenes, but Parker doesn’t care. He wants to live the life of a careless teenager, courting MJ (Zendaya) on the top of the Eiffel Tower and checking out the Festival of Lights in Prague. Meanwhile, he’s also parsing out his feelings on the loss of Tony Stark, the patriarchal figure in his life from “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” For him, it’s a tough death to deal with because his face is memorialized in murals around the world.
Written by two of the writers of “Homecoming” and directed by Jon Watts, “Far From Home” is a return to the more joke-heavy, conventional feel of movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, it might be the funniest superhero movie not named “Thor: Ragnarok.”
It sets that tone early, with the Marvel logo set to Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You,” dissolving into a shoddy, high school slideshow paying tribute to the superheroes lost in the war in “Avengers: Endgame.”
It dispenses jokes at steady clip while showcasing some of the best-looking action sequences of the series, be it the Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield or current “Spider-Man” iteration.
This is all to say that the movie does everything right that you would expect from a “Spider-Man” without shaking things up too much creatively, save for a series-altering mid-credits sequence.
His first blockbuster in almost a decade, Gyllenhaal chews the scenery until there’s none left, giving Mysterio an understated joy as he mentors Spider-Man. Holland continues to bring wonderfully nervous energy to Parker and is backed by a comedically strong supporting cast that includes Martin Starr, Jacob Batalon and J.B. Smoove.
After movies like the animated “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” and “Avengers: Endgame” played with the pace and tone of their genre, “Far From Home” is more a typical, feel-good coda to this year’s slate of superhero movies.
It’s not memorable enough to stand out against those films, and it’s not a flaming disaster like “Spider-Man 3” or “Dark Phoenix.” It’s cinematic comfort food and for a Fourth of July weekend movie, it’s a perfect fit for the season.
— Andrew Gaug | St. Joe Live