Eppler: New "Spider-Man" mostly works despite some challenges

"Spider-Man: Far From Home" was already at a disadvantage as the first Marvel movie to have to deal with the heavy fallout from "Avengers: Endgame" and being in the shadow of the best "Spider-Man" movie ever made: last year's "Into the Spider-verse," which I've seen roughly fifteen times. "Far From Home" is a bit awkward early on - grieving the dearly departed from "Endgame" and quickly explaining away the five-year-long deaths of some characters while trying to keep things light and airy. Fortunately, it mostly rests on Tom Holland's shoulders and he's excellent again."Far From Home" takes Peter Parker and his school friends to Europe for no real reason other than a change of scenery, and the lovely locations aren't really utilized. Peter just wants to spend time with his crush MJ, but Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury has other ideas. Jake Gyllenhaal shows up as another superhero called Mysterio who has important plot details to explain to everyone.The movie drags a bit before it really gets going in the wild and trippy second half. It's not as good as "Homecoming" a couple years ago, especially on the villain front, which this new movie tries to keep as a Big Secret even though anyone who's ever seen a movie should be able to suss out who it right away - making you smarter than Peter Parker.

But there's still plenty to like. The high school angst stuff is charming and Holland has real chemistry with Zendaya as MJ, an actress who can level you with a smirk. "Far From Home" feels like the model for what MCU movies will mostly be from here on out: enjoyable, not entirely memorable formula with likable characters and actors. But as with all Marvel movies, stick around through the end credits because the extra scenes in this one are real doozies.



* * * * * Incredible - One of the best of the year* * * * Excellent - Touches greatness with only minor quibbles* * * Good - Plenty to like, definitely worth seeing* * Mediocre - You can do better

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