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With: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Cobie Smulders, JB Smoove, Martin Starr
Written by: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Directed by: Jon Watts
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments
Running Time: 129
Date: 07/02/2019

Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Mysterio Ways

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The 23rd movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the eighth Spider-Man feature film overall, the fifth appearance of Tom Holland as Spider-Man, and the second movie in this particular Spider-Man series, Jon Watts' Spider-Man: Far from Home soars above all that stuff and flows like a breeze during a summer vacation.

Like the Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy movies, it feels largely like a comedy, focusing as much on Peter Parker's personal trials and tribulations, and his matters of the heart, as on saving the world.

This time, Pete goes on a two-week summer science field trip to Europe with several classmates. (J. B. Smoove and Martin Starr earn a large percentage of the movie's laughs as the two ineffectual chaperones.) As the trip goes amusingly wrong in many ways, Pete vows to avoid superheroing and instead hopes to confess his feelings for the charmingly morose MJ (Zendaya).

But of course, giant monsters called the Elementals attack, and a new hero, "Mysterio" (Jake Gyllenhaal) emerges to battle them. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) tries to interrupt Pete's trip to get him to help (none of the other Avengers are around this summer). Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is also on hand, nursing his own crush on Pete's beautiful Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). Likewise, Pete's best pal Ned (Jacob Batalon) also strikes up a hilariously unlikely romance. (It truly is the summer of love in Spidey's world.)

As with Spider-Man: Homecoming, Watts follows the Marvel playbook perfectly, crafting a delightfully entertaining movie that's bright, funny, exciting, and speedy, and also one that doesn't evaporate immediately. This is largely thanks to Holland, who brings a strong sense of lovable pathos to the role. Every time something goes wrong for him, he effortlessly elicits an "aww" from the viewer.

(Note: Watts was interviewed for last year's documentary The Great Buster, describing how Buster Keaton influenced his vision of Spider-Man, and providing a clue as to this movie's appeal.)

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