Fireworks for the 4th in ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’

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Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is remarkably light on its feet considering it takes place in the wake of the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” After the five year period between finger snaps which is now referred to as “the blip,” Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and some of his classmates have returned the same age, while everyone else has gotten five years older.

But Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is frankly feeling a little burnt out on “Avengers” level superhero duties. He’s more focused on his upcoming class trip to Italy. He’s also got an elaborate plan to try to get noticed by M.J.(Zendaya), while ghosting S.H.I.E.L.D. Boss Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) when duty comes calling.

Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Spider-Man (Tom Holland) & Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) in ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’
Photo credit: Columbia Pictures

This time the earth is under attack from a quartet of basic beasties known as the Elementals (Earth, Wind, Fire, Water). Their arrival is accompanied by a bubble headed figure known only as Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) who needs Nick Fury and Spider-Man’s help to save the planet. I can’t reveal much else about that plot, except to say the action sequences are perfectly adequate. Marvel movies have a pretty high floor when it comes to quality, and Venice, Prague, and London all take it on the chin pretty hard in this one. But it’s the enduring popularity of the characters themselves which are the real draw here.

In one pretty good sequence where a giant water monster is pummeling the canals and churches of Venice, Spiderman is trying to keep an ancient tower from crumbling, while also trying not to break the special gift he’s gotten to impress his potential girlfriend M.J. It really is a testament to how good Holland and Zendaya are that this little high school love story carries so much more weight than the global threats and special-effects-heavy plot does. Holland has found a sweet and innocent take on Spider-Man as a 16-year-old kid who’s in slightly over his head, and not sure if he’s got what it takes to step up without a little hand-holding.

Best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), frienemy Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori), and class chaperones/teachers (portrayed by Martin Starr and J.B. Smoove), are along for the ride as well. And Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan character has a beefier than usual supporting role, and budding romance with Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). Tony Stark isn’t here, but his presence hangs over the entire proceedings.

M.J.(Zendaya) and the Title Character in ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’
Photo credit: Columbia Pictures

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” continues to re-invigorate the Spider-Man franchise after the junior varsity-level quality of the previous “The Amazing Spider-Man” movies. There’s even a blink and you’ll miss it callback to a popular character, featuring an Oscar-winning actor who played the role about two reboots ago. This is a treat for the Fourth of July weekend.

“Spider-Man: Far from Home” opens everywhere on July 2nd in IMAX, RPX, 3D and regular screenings. See local listings for format theaters and show times. Featuring Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jon Favreau, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisa Tomei and Jacob Batalon. Screenplay by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommars. Directed by Jon Watts. Rated “PG-13” contributor Spike Walters


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