Peter Parker's European Vacation - Spider-Man: Far From Home
With one quest done, Peter Parker heads back to school, where he, like so many others at school, deal with the aftermath of The Snap and The Blip. At the end of the school year, Peter heads to Europe with his classmates in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Since his return, Peter (Tom Holland) had split his time between school and fundraisers his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) throws. Following one fundraiser, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), still employed by Stark Industries, tells Peter to expect a phone call from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), but Peter disregards it. Fury and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) have witnessed an unusual destructive force called an elemental, but a man named Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) stops this force in its path. Beck tells Fury and Hill he's from an alternate earth, and has battled elementals there before his arrival on the planet. Beck also says earth should expect more elementals. For his efforts, Beck has received the nickname of Mysterio.
Fury thinks Parker and Beck would make a good team to stop these powers. However, Fury doesn't catch up to Parker until an elemental strikes again, and Beck destroys it. The incident occurs in Venice, where Peter and his class happen to be. Peter agrees to help, and has received a pair of glasses with the acronym EDITH from Happy, which Happy says Tony meant for Peter to have. In order to not give away his superhero identity, Fury diverts Peter's tour group so he and Beck can face another elemental in Prague. The teaming proves to be successful, and Beck and Parker celebrate in a local pub. Peter decides that Beck would be better suited to contolling EDITH, which has the most sophisticated weapons in the Stark arsenal ready on voice command. After transferring control to Mysterio, Peter and MJ (Zendaya) discover that Mysterio had an ulterior motive to his actions.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is an entertaining film in its own right, though it's much lighter than the Avengers movies that preceded it. While with his class, Peter has to keep his identity hidden from everyone but Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon). MJ, however, has noticed Peter's absence during the Elemental attacks, and correctly concludes Peter is Spider-Man. Jon Watts returns to direct this sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming. Chris McKenna and Erik Summers return to write a generally satisfying sequel. Some story elements concern me, though. When the meaning of EDITH Is revealed, viewers might think Tony Stark psychic. Since it is learned that Stark and Beck had a relationship that didn't end well, I wonder how Statk Industries and Fury didn't keep closer tabs on him. Peter is the one to crack the mystery of Mysterio. In addition, Peter's class seems to have been disproportionately affected by The Snap one way, while the Avengers fared just the opposite. Also, Mysterio and Homecoming villain Vulture aren't as compelling as Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus. I'm sure nobody involved wanted Far From Home to have the same dramatic overtone as the last two Avengers movies, but the Holland Spider-Man entries are almost as light in tone as the Ant-Man movies. When Holland returns for a third starring movie, I hope he faces a villain on a par with either Green Goblin or Doc Ock - or even cast a new actor in one of those roles.
I still enjoy Holland in the lead role. The balance between school life and his other responsibilities grows even more pronounced. Holland shows a teen still prone to acting on teenage emotions as he makes some potentially dangerous decisions. As the attraction between Peter and MJ grows, he finds that classmate Brad Davis (Remy Hii), who was personally unaffected by The Snap, also has feelings for MJ. Instead of asking for help or advice from family and friends, he turns to EDITH for a solution - and EDITH nearly delivers. That same sort of emotion prevents Peter from immediately seeing that Mysterio has tricked him. Jackson, as Fury, gets to show a more comic side of his character. He's used to dealing with grownups, but Peter is not there yet. Because of the vacation situation, Fury has to be both taskmaster and babysitter. He has to deal with a kid trying to enjoy a trip, yet using his resources to keep Peter's tour group safe. Gyllenhaal does a decent job as Beck/Mysterio, whose greatest skill is deception as he tries to gain the upper hand by posing as an ally. J. K. Simmons makes a cameo appearance as J. Jonah Jameson, the fiery newspaper publisher he played so well in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man series.
After Avengers: Endgame, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been anxious to see how the film franchise continues. Spider-Man: Far From Home still delivers the goods in terms of action, but the last two Avengers entries will be a hard - and perhaps impossible - act to follow. Peter Parker is the future of the Avengers, and goes through the growing pains of that big responsibility. The MCU may be experiencing a similar type of growing pain, as the franchise has raised the bar for expectations. I don't expect every story to be a top notch effort, but the story of Spider-Man: Far From Home prevents it from being one of the better pictures in the MCU.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Spider-Man: Far From Home three stars. Almost strays too far.
© 2019 Pat Mills