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Spider-Man: Far from Home

On summer vacation, Peter Parker finds his place in the world

 

CAPTION: © Marvel Studios Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is aided by new hero Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal).

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Infinity War, which you should have seen by now. 

      Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is having trouble getting back to normal. He and half the world were snapped from existence by baddie Thanos. Though the Avengers were able to bring the disappeared back, the world altered irrevocably in the five years that all were gone. 

     The world has moved on, but Peter is right back where he was. He is still a high schooler while many of his peers are in college.

To make matters worse, he has lost the only mentor he’s ever known: Tony Stark. With Iron Man’s death and Captain America’s retirement, the world is looking for a new hero to step up to lead the Avengers. Those in the know choose Peter. But he just wants to be a kid.

     So he goes on vacation with his school. He’s hoping to make a few memories on a science club European trip and tell his crush MJ (Zendaya: Euphoria) how he feels. These plans are derailed when a mysterious monster pops up in Venice. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) arrives and demands that Peter step up. Peter hesitates, believing he’ll never live up to Tony’s legend.

     He is spared a decision when Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) appears to beat the monster. Beck is from an alternate universe where he fought monsters called elementals before they ultimately devastated his version of Earth. Peter relates to Beck’s sense of loss and admires his bravery. Beck seems the hero this world deserves.

     Can Peter be a kid for a while? Or is the call to help too strong for the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to resist?

     Hilarious and action-filled, this is a wonderful final entry in Marvel’s Infinity War storyline. Which also means that much of the emotional nuance and impact will be lost on you if you haven’t kept up with the Marvel storylines. 

     Director Jon Watts (Spider-Man: Homecoming) wisely chooses a lighthearted mood. Much of the movie plays out like a typical high school comedy that happens to star a superhero. It’s a refreshing change from the very serious and emotional theme of the rest of the Infinity War series.

     In another smart choice, the specter of Tony Stark appears to show how much Peter has lost. Eagle-eyed viewers will be able to see Tony in almost every frame of the film, his legacy looming large over the high school boy who wanted nothing more than to make him proud. 

     As with the last Spider Man film, casting is a great part of the success. Gyllenhaal is wonderful as Beck, a picture-perfect hero who might step in as Peter’s mentor. His Beck combines sadness and a wry humor in a perfect echo of Tony Stark.

     The star of these movies is always Holland. He manages to imbue Peter with all the teenage awkwardness of a 16-year-old as well as the delightful earnestness we want in a superhero. In many ways, the kid already embodies the best of the Avengers: the inherent goodness of Captain America, the brains of Tony Stark and web-shooting aim of Hawkeye.

     Spider-Man: Far from Home is wonderful as both a cap on the Infinity War series and a welcome to the next generation of Avengers. It’s a flick well worth the price. 

Good superhero movie • PG-13 • 129 mins.

 

~~~ New this Week ~~~

Midsommar

     After a tragedy strikes Dani (Florence Pugh), boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) feels too guilty to carry out his planned breakup, resigning himself to stick out their dying relationship until Dani gets back on her feet. 

     When Dani invites herself along on Christian’s guys trip to Sweden, his friends are all annoyed. But soon the group has bigger worries than a clinging girlfriend. The pagans they are visiting may not be so congenial as they thought.

     Can Christian and Dani save not only their relationship but also themselves?

     Director Ari Aster made his feature debut last year with Hereditary, one of the most disturbing and brilliant horror movies in years. Expectations, therefore, are pretty high for Midsommar. Aster is fantastic at mining emotional trauma and displaying gore. 

    Joining him this time around is Pugh, one of the most interesting and exciting young actresses working today. It should be fun to watch her stretch as Toni Collette did in Hereditary. 

     If you’re a fan of Aster or of horror, this should be a treat. It promises more than run-of-the-mill slasher thrills and jump scares. 

Prospects: Bright • R • 140 mins.