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Far From Bad

You’d think a great Spider-Man movie would have to take place mostly in New York.

Au contraire. So many great Spidey stories have been travel stories, whether Spidey was in Florida confronting the Lizard, or the Savage Land working for JJJ, or off to London to try to win back Gwen Stacy. So even though Spider-Man: Far From Home only has maybe 10 minutes’ time logged in NYC, don’t worry: this is a great cinematic offering for the web-slinger, far better than the previous Homecoming, leagues better than the Andrew Garfield misfires, and up there in the neighborhood of Spider-Man 2 when it comes to really feeling like Spider-Man, which for me is what these movies have to be about.

Be warned: you have to do a little homework going in to this one: Avengers: Endgame is pretty much required viewing before you see Far From Home. Even though the film sums up all the needed info in a clever and fun way up top, you’ll be much better off with an understanding of the post-Endgame status quo. Trying to stay as spoiler-free as possible, Far From Home finds Peter Parker (Tom Holland, giving his best performance in the role yet) returned to his normal life, struggling to fill the void left by those heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war with Thanos, and wanting nothing more than a quiet summer vacation in Europe that might give him a chance to tell MJ (Zendaya, funnier and more appealing than ever here) how he feels about her.

No such luck, as Pete’s vacation is soon interrupted by Nick Fury, who demands Spidey assist with the Next Big Crisis, an invasion of elemental monsters destroying cities around the world. In the process, Spidey meets Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhall, who absolutely kills it here), a newly arrived superhero who’s working with Fury, and who quickly fills the empty paternal role in Spidey’s life.

To divulge much more about the plot is saying too much, but suffice it to say that longtime Spidey fans and newcomers to the MCU alike will very much love the twists and turns this film takes. (In particular, there’s a scene where a villain does a bit of monologuing so robust it feels more like a corporate retreat. I absolutely loved it. ) More important, the characterization here is much better than Homecoming, which failed to work for me at all because Peter’s character seemed so self-involved, and much of the plot depended on both Tony Stark and Happy Hogan being aloof jerks. This time around, we have a proper Spidey, torn between his longing for a normal life and his sense of responsibility, wearing even more heavily on his shoulders with the loss of his mentor. Happy Hogan is also much better served here, as we see him too struggling with loss and trying to fill some very big shoes.

Honestly, this one checks off all the boxes from what I’m looking for in a Spidey movie: big, fun action scenes, relatable characterization, deep cuts from the history of the MCU, a sweet, innocent romance, and a truly great villain. Add in two monster post-credit sequences, and there’s no way I can’t recommend Spider-Man: Far From Home. Go see it, like, now.


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