Jon Watts returns to the Marvel Universe to direct “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” As in the previous chapter, “Homecoming,” Watts treats the comic-book material with energy and empathy, giving his hero the richness he deserves. Once more, Spider-Man is as spirited as he is colorful.
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is recuperating from the emotionally draining war, brought by Thanos which caused the death of his best friend, Iron Man Tony Stark. Iron Man is not explicitly depicted in the film but his image is everywhere like Zeus, Jesus or Disney. Iron Man becomes a pop trademark. In seeing his metallic yellow persona, Parker is filled with awe and grows nervous. Starkism is Parker’s religion.
Parker is about to go to Venice with his school friends. From there, he will go on to Paris. He wants to declare his love to MJ (Zendaya) at the Eiffel Tower.
Just at the moment Parker is about to put his guard down, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) calls with an imperative task. Europe has been plunged into chaos by the Elementals: Air, water and fire. A trio of mythical monsters that usher in destruction. Nick Fury believes that Spider-Man is the only one with enough resilience to defeat the juggernauts.
It is not in Parker’s nature to refuse; he owes a favor to Stark’s memory. But, unbeknownst to Parker and Fury, there is aid ready at the scene, a self-made wizard Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) dressed like an old fashioned undersea explorer with a sphere for a head. Beck saves the day with a little help from our adolescent hero and Parker politely declines a partnership with Beck on further lifesaving endeavors.
But things are not as secure as they seem.
The film feels like a comic book and is very satisfying in a matinee sense. It has vividness and vibration. The action never glazes in front of the eye. All objects have fluidity and brightness. The events are never boring.
Gyllenhaal is excellent as a duplicitous showman wizard, portraying both a person of warm charisma and great intimidation. The actor has cornered the market on wolfish traits. With his bushy brows and roving eyes, no one does it better.
Parker’s imperiled romance is also handled with heart and depth. Europe is threatened with doom in the midst of Parker’s naturally adolescent hormonal rise. Add to that the boy’s grief in losing his best friend and mentor. These human quandaries are handled with feeling, not in shallow magic marker tones but with reflection. Zendaya has a unique hesitant quality that makes her magnetic and compelling. She is no mere superhero love.
Visually, this chapter is stunning with imagery that flows outward in great rivers of color and motion. Quentin Beck’s illusions are the stuff of a geometric hell. The frenetic pixelations, tumbling and rapid, recall the work of M.C. Escher.
With a swift narrative that entertains, combined with charge and some dazzling colors, “Spider-Man: Far from Home” thrills in the great tradition of a Saturday matinee. If this is not enough, a surprisingly heartfelt ending will have you rooting for more entanglements, be they human or webbed.
Write Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org