Spider-Man: Far From Home ends Marvel Phase 3 with a bang. A superior sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Far From Home is an excellent follow up to Avengers: Endgame (2019), striking a good balance between action and emotional drama.

It pays moving tribute to the heroes lost in Avengers: Endgame (2019) and sets Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) as the man to carry the mantle. Admittedly, I had some doubts about Tom Holland being the new face of Marvel, with actors such as Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/ Iron Man) and Chris Evans (Steve Rogers / Captain America) having called it a day, but the wide-eyed Holland delivers an excellent performance as a vulnerable superhero who is feeling the weight of expectations.

Granted, he could use some charisma and wit as Spider-Man — after all, the webslinger was Deadpool before there was a Deadpool. Disappointingly, he doesn’t have any one-liners, though Peter Parker finals shows some of the genius that was part of his character in the comic books.

The film takes place sometime after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Many superheroes are now dead or missing in action. And now, there’s a mysterious threat. Elemental beings are attacking Earth. Here, Quentin Beck (Mysterio, Jake Gyllenhaal) shows up to save the day. We learn that he is from an alternate dimension, where his world was destroyed by these creatures. He’s now here to stop them. Soon, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the former director of S.H.I.E.L.D., is summoning Peter Parker to take over.

Spider-Man: Far From Home exceeds expectations, striking a good balance between action and drama

Here is the most underwhelming part of the film. Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and, more so, Avengers: Endgame had been creating a more authentic world. In Avengers: Endgame we saw a world on the brink of crisis. With the loss of half its population, the planet was psychologically unable to carry on. Finally, after five years, everyone came back from the dead and balance was restored.

Spider-Man: Far From Home looks at a world where half of the population is back, but they are five years younger than those who were left behind and allowed to age. But it’s back to business for Marvel. There’s no real examination or authenticity here. Aside from a few jokes, we don’t really see the impact of half of the world’s population coming back from the dead.

This grievance aside, I really enjoyed Spider-Man: Homecoming. At the heart of the film is the excellent chemistry between Tom Holland and Jake Gyllenhaal. The relationship between the two gives the film a lot of emotional energy. Likewise, the chemistry between Tom Holland and Zendaya (Michelle / MJ). They make the awkward teenage romance work.

The special effects are outstanding, with some pulsating action sequences. The two best ones are where Spider-Man is tested by illusions that seek to disintegrate him mentally. Watching them, I felt like a kid reading comics, or watching cartoons where he faces off against one of his greatest foes, Mysterio.

Spider-Man: Far From Home looks at a world where half of the population is back, but they are five years younger than those who were left behind and allowed to age.

Then, there’s another scene on a train, where Spider-Man uses his Spidey-sense to fight in a difficult situation. It is reminiscent of the bullet-time effect from The Matrix (1999), and feels like one of the times on film where the superpower has been ripped straight out of the comics.

The film also has a couple of interesting post-credit scenes. The first one is both amusing and clever. It reimagines Spider-Man’s old foe, journalist J. Jonah Jameson of the Daily Bugle, as an Alex Jones of Infowars type. As you may know, Alex Jones has made a career out of spreading fake news and conspiracy theories. Updating J. Jonah Jameson from the editor-in-chief of a hate-pedaling tabloid to a master of fake news is relevant today.

Overall, Far From Home is excellent and exceeded expectations. The shocking twist (not revealed here) in the post-credits sets up an interesting sequel and one of the oldest tropes in Spider-Man comics, where the hero is fighting a PR battle.

Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments

Published in Dawn, ICON, July 14th, 2019