Let this be said right up front: Do not walk out of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” before the end credits are over.
If you do, you’ll miss a major twist, and one that certainly will be vital to the next movie in the series. The film that leads up to it is pretty enjoyable, though after all the Spidey stories there have been, it still relies on the basic and familiar premise of our young hero battling the monster du jour.
In this case, it’s really “monsters,” which take various forms as Peter Parker and his pals embark on a school trip through Europe in the aftermath of the events of “Avengers: Endgame” … and the picture is wise in changing the setting, since “Spider-Man” typically has been an all-American venture. The group’s first stop is Venice, which barely survives (though some might argue that it doesn’t) an attack by the so-called Elementals – and then, Prague scarcely fares any better.
“Elementals” is a pretty clever name for the bad guys, since they take in the characteristics of such elements as water and fire, and in extremely big and destructive ways. Of course, that lets the special-effects team have a field day, generating some whoppers of visuals given the creative freedom that computer-created imagery enables.
Tom Holland hits more of the right notes in his latest turn as the web-slinger, whether the young hero is trying to woo Mary Jane (played by Zendaya) rather clumsily or scoping out a would-be mentor who comes to be known as Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal, the latest example of the fun casting of known “guest stars” – see Michael Douglas, Jeff Bridges, etc. — that the Marvel movies delve into).
Credit returning director Jon Watts with ensuring enough fresh entertainment value to make the newest “Spider-Man” more than just a cash cow …which it clearly also is, since it’s been proven that the mere mention of Spidey’s name will draw masses of the faithful back into theaters immediately. There are nice through lines in having Samuel L. Jackson, Marisa Tomei and Jon Favreau back as Nick Fury, Aunt May and Iron Man’s pal Happy Hogan respectively, and those are smart filmmaker moves in the way of audience comfort.
By now, there have been so many adventures in the Marvel canon, it takes a lot for one to really distinguish itself from the pack. The overseas locales surely help “Spider-Man: Far From Home” on that count, and overall, it succeeds enough to keep viewers feeling right at home.