A disclaimer that this review is coming to you from not the most ardent of the genre's fan. You won’t catch me late night on some chat room discussing Marvel conspiracies but I am someone who has a general knowledge of this universe after watching with a modicum interest the majority of the franchise. Admittedly on this occasion, I was more intrigued by the prospect of watching the latest instalment Spider-Man: Far from Home at the IMAX, which made the experience more immersive, to say the least.
Picking up from where Avenger: Endgame left off, we are at a time post blip, those who have disappeared have now re-appeared. Peter Parker, played by Tom Holland, doubling up as Spiderman, is still distraught by the death of Tony Stark aka Iron Man. Now trying to lead a normal life and play down his Spider-Man credentials, living with his Aunt May, played by the amazing Marisa Tomei given far too little screen time, to his dismay she humorously refers to his spider sense as ‘Peter Tingle’.
A summer high-school field trip sees Parker take off for Europe along with his fellow classmates friends, the usual mid-twenties actors playing characters ten years their junior, which includes his nerdy compadre Ned (Jacob Batalon) and his obsessive crush MJ (Zendaya).
However, his super powers are summoned the moment he sets foot on European soil, Venice to be exact, as a catastrophic misfortune ensues which will follow their tail throughout their European travels with a clichéd backdrops of gondolas in a Venitian canals to windmills and tulips in Amsterdam to armed Beefeaters at the Tower of London.
Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) is forever looming in the background with his sidekick Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), as Fury plans to ascend Spiderman into superhero territory to justify the trust placed by the late Stark, for Parker to become his heir. Parker is initially disinclined and it’s not until the presence of newcomer Quentin Beck aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal, looking hunky as ever) turns villain that he is forced to step up to the job. Beck's ulterior motives have him supposedly save the day, stopping Venice from turning into a rubble by a planted fake interdimensional typhoon force called ‘elemental’, only for his true intentions of power grabbing to soon surface and further, bigger woes to come.
This Spiderman installment feels very teen focused; a young impressionable adolescent Spider-Man, its littered with high school-teenage antics as well as the awkward young romance story between MJ and Parker and all the typical self-sabotaging until they get it together.
Holland’s Parker proves initially rather a soppy, but upon reflection this overly sensitive, reluctant hero is perhaps the film's greatest merit, along with Marisa Tomei of course, attempting to challenge the standard of the overtly masculine, less emotional champion action hero we are accustomed to.
This usual unconcealed machismo exhibitionism is refreshingly reserved for Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio, the evil one. As the two come head to head in the film’s denouement, Tower Bridge becomes drone central and their reckoning ends expectedly on a positive note alluding to more things to come in future chapters.
Its Jon Watts' second foray into Spider-Man territory, having previously directed the more notable predecessor Homecoming. However, for me most praise goes to his exceptional debut, the horror film Clown (2014) about a demonic possessed clown costume. There is nothing sinister or edgy with Spider-Man: Far from Home, it’s as mainstream as you can get, leaving you with a taste of the overfamiliar, a Marvel film by numbers, lacking in originality par some few, if predictable, plot twists despite moments of impressive CGI.
Spider-Man: Far from Home is out now in cinemas.
Words by Daniel Theophanous @danny_theo_.