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After the heartfelt coming of age Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and the extravagant Endgame’s outstanding end to years of Avengers adventures, Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) latest Spidey sequel Spider-Man: Far From Home is exactly as it should be – less Marvel-ous and more high-school romantic comedy. And that is what makes Peter Parker’s cutting-edge escapade such a joy.
The second instalment in the latest live-action Spider-Man reboot takes place after the Avengers: Endgame’s “Blip” era, where Thanos is demolished but Iron Man Tony Stark is no more.
Peter Parker, played by Tom Holland, a “16-year-old kid from Queens” is preparing for a school ‘EuroTrip’ with his best friend Ned, played by Jacob Batalon and secret crush MJ, performed by Zendaya, leaving his alter-ego at home for a while. But Nick Fury, played by Samuel L Jackson, has other plans for him – apocalyptic villains named Elementals are abolishing the earth and Spider-Man must step up to take on the new threat.
In this new mission, Spider-Man meets a new ally played by Jake Gyllenhaal that goes by the name of Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio, a superhero from a parallel-universe.
Director Jon Watts, like in Homecoming, once again in Far From Home emphasises the fact that his version of superhero is a normal teenager. Watts, with his writers team Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers created Holland’s Spider-Man as a most well-developed, believable character in the MCU franchise. Reluctant Parker wants a break from his ‘saviour-of-the-world’ duty thinking he is too young and inept for the huge task. Irresponsible Parker dodges calls from Fury and even the jealous Parker tells EDITH (Even Dead I’m The Hero) to launch a drone strike on a romantic rival named Brad, played by Remy Hii.
EDITH is AI-tech tinted glasses – an invaluable gift Peter receives from his mentor Tony. Following Siri like voice commands, EDITH can set up drones to destroy targets. The gadget brings one of the best moments in the film – Parker asks Mysterio to try on the glasses and Gyllenhaal with his leading-man looks, suddenly bears a remarkable resemblance to Stark. Is he going to take Robert Downey Junior’s place in Parker’s life?
The 23-year-old British Holland, having played Spider-Man in four previous MCU releases, brings an awkward, amiable, agile and adolescent enthusiasm in the role which is much more real than Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s previous Spider-Men.
Jake Gyllenhaal, who was considered as a potential replacement for Maguire in Sony’s Spider-Man 2, is certainly a huge plus for the franchise. Non Marvel-comic fans might feel a lack of background story in his introduction unless you stay all the way through the credits. Speaking of credits, be sure to stay in your seat until the very end. Nevertheless, Gyllenhaal being Gyllenhaal is fantastic in every scene.
Deadpan delight Zendaya’s MJ doesn’t have much to do in Far From Home but her performance is subtle and captivating. Batalon’s Ned is brilliant.
Elementals’ global threat which “supposedly” caused damage to popular tourist landmarks in Venice, Prague, Berlin and London, falls short compared with Michael Keaton’ diabolical villain Vulture in Homecoming.
Rather, the real villain in Far From Home is an illusion “to give the world something to believe in” where “it’s easy to fool people when they’re already fooling themselves” because “people believe, and nowadays they’ll believe anything”. The battle is between the illusion and the truth – fabricated media news versus reality. Go for your “Peter tingle” to get on the inside of the illusion.