Friday 5 July 2019

Spider-Man's on vacation in Far From Home

Paul Moxham, fellow true believer, film fan and BBC cameraman, goes on a much-needed vacation after the events of Avengers: Endgame in Spider-Man: Far From Home. What could possibly go wrong?

Guest post by Paul Moxham

A mere two months since Avengers: Endgame, tears barely dry and jaws returned from the floor after the epic sweep of that behemoth blockbuster, and we’re back to see how Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is coping with what one can only imagine has been a rather eventful year so far.

Picking up shortly after the events of the second highest-grossing film ever (at time of writing), there’s nothing Peter would love more than to relax on a school trip around Europe and spend some time getting closer to MJ (Zendaya). Alas, upon arriving in Venice he is sought out by the former head of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a stranger from another universe, to help defeat the Elementals, large world-ending creatures who’ve nipped through the same dimensional door as Beck.

If this sounds like classic summer blockbuster-fare, that’s because it is. A refreshingly light and breezy riposte to the universe-ending darkness of Endgame. The chemistry and tone of Homecoming is recaptured within minutes, director Jon Watts still successfully taking his cues from 80s high school movies. Credit to Marvel Studios, 23 films in now, and still able to refocus with ease from enormous cosmic shenanigans to a young guy from Queens trying to get a girlfriend.

The humour and action sit well alongside recurrent themes of self-doubt and lost father figures, writers McKenna and Sommers skilfully allowing the drama to flow from the action as much as dialogue. We learn probably just as much about the characters from what they do as what they say. The film mines a huge amount from Peter’s determination and inherent goodness in the face of grief and the expectation of others.

Although it’s not a complete home-run. Despite certain plot points seemingly flagged up early on, the first half an hour seems determined to hammer them home, resulting in a slower pace. The sharp wit and cast chemistry thankfully allaying fears of a slog ahead. And whilst full of lovely visual touches the third act is a rather typical Marvel bashy-crashy conclusion. That stellar character work and performance once more the real hero, elevating proceedings above the typical.

Those visuals are wonderful, especially one particularly Steve Ditko-inspired sequence, with the action being reliably quick, exciting and ready with an angle or perspective you didn’t know you needed.

Ultimately the film is a joyous testament to why Peter Parker has been loved for so long by so many people; he’s a good person, with cool superpowers, doing the best he can for others often at the expense of his own happiness. Who wouldn’t want to spend time with someone like that?

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