Ah, yes, it’s been two months since the world witnessed the thrilling and emotional conclusion to the MCU’s Infinity Saga, but producer Kevin Feige stated Spider-Man: Far From Home would be the last film in Marvel’s Phase 4, thus ending one of cinema’s most memorable film sagas. Far From Home picks up after the events in Avengers: Endgame, with a script from Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers. Jon Watts is back to direct and the trio created a teen action rom-com with obvious superhero elements. While watching it, I couldn’t help but think of National Lampoon’s European Vacation, but with more action and less zany humor (Far From Home relies more on one-liners and smart quips).

Tom Holland returns as Peter Parker/Spider-Man (of course) and with Tony Stark’s death still fresh, Peter wants to heal his heavy heart by attempting to be a normal kid. A class trip to Europe should be the perfect getaway, and with MJ (Zendaya) along for the trip this is Peter’s chance to come clean about his feelings for her. But normalcy and teenage love always take a backseat to superheroism, and saving the world just popped up in the trip itinerary. Peter, despite his hesitation, is forced into action, although he has help in Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). Taking the lead is Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a superhero from another version of Earth. Together they must defeat the Elementals, massive beings from Beck’s Earth who’ve arrived to destroy the planet using their powers of natural elements (like fire, water, and earth).

Far From Home is a fantastic adventure that again combines John Hughes-ian vibes with typical superhero action. McKenna and Sommers showcase personal crisis themes – wants versus needs; duty at the cost of happiness; and feelings of inferiority. Watts, McKenna and Sommers then changed things up by relocating to Europe; its results yielding an epic feel without being so. Thrown in is a love story that is as awkward as it is cute and, with the fish out of water storyline attached to it, Far From Home is exceptional because it successfully juggles multiple genres.

Any remaining doubts as to Tom Holland’s ability to convincingly portray Peter is permanently quelled. Holland uses grief and self-doubt as sharp tools to mold Peter into one of the MCU’s most sympathetic characters. And the typical trials and tribulations that come with being a teen allow audiences to relate to both Peter and Spider-Man. Peter’s crises were always evident in the comics; it’s great to see that successfully transferred to the screen.

Then there’s a level of empathy we have for Peter that allows audiences to openly root for him. What’s more compelling is the idea that we know things won’t get any easier for Peter – he’s in it for the long haul. And without Tony’s guidance Peter’s journey from child to man (and from small time hero to public figure) will be rough one for our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

If there’s a drawback, it’s safe to say it lies with its villain. Homecoming knocked it out of the park with Michael Keaton as Vulture. His villain perfectly combined the trite habits of a baddie with that of a father and husband struggling to make ends meet. That was the foundation for the duality that exists throughout the two Holland Spider-Man films, and both heroes and villains are better for it… except here. The sequel’s villain(s) are not as layered as Keaton’s Vulture. McKenna and Sommers opted for misdirection rather than depth and nuance but considering the themes that choice provided it still works.

For those all about numbers, Far From Home was reportedly made on a slightly smaller budget than its predecessor ($160 million against Homecoming’s $175 million). Production-wise, it still looks sharp, its effects are solid, and the score is head bob-worthy. Across the board Far From Home is spectacular as it sets the standard for future MCU releases.

If you’re worried Marvel may not be able let the good times roll after Endgame’s epic conclusion, the latest Spider-Man flick will put your mind at ease.

4.5 stars out of 5


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