This is “Spider-Man 2” in more ways than one.
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” is the sequel to 2017’s “Homecoming” and is the 23rd film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tom Holland reprises his role as the titular wall-crawler as the film follows Peter Parker trying to balance his school trip in Europe with a growing threat from unknown creatures. Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau and Jake Gyllenhaal also star, and Jon Watts returns to direct.
I enjoyed the first MCU Spider-Man film a decent amount, mostly due to Tom Holland’s incredible charm and Michael Keaton enjoying himself as a very entertaining (and almost sympathetic) bad guy. And I have always doubted that any Spider-Man film will ever top the heights of 2004’s “Spider-Man 2,” but dammit does this thing at times comes close.
Much that worked about the first film again works well here. The John Hughes-ish high school dramedy take on Peter Parker’s story is often very relatable, from dealing with fitting in to trying to work up the courage to talk to your crush. We feel like we can empathize with what Holland is going through (until it gets to the whole “saving the world” part), and thanks to his and Zendaya’s wonderfully awkward chemistry those scenes work so well.
The action is much bigger this time (despite a smaller budget), and for the most part it is nothing short of incredible. There are some mind-bending sequences throughout this film, thanks in large part to Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio, but more on him in a second. The fights have much more color this time around than last (most of those battles took place at night) and because of the threat at hand, it gives Watts more toys to play with and things to throw at the screen. There are a few wonky moments, especially with green screen during one web swinging sequence, but overall this thing pops.
So, Mysterio. One of my favorite cartoon villains growing up, I had accepted a long time ago that I would never get to see him portrayed on the big screen. So when it was announced that not only would he appear in the “Homecoming” sequel but he would be portrayed by Oscar-nominee Jake Gyllenhaal, I got excited. From his brief appearance in the first trailer, I knew the filmmakers had nailed him, and after seeing the actual film I loved it. So many times watching this I got excited because they got this character perfect with his nature and powers, but I won’t go into further detail because the marketing hasn’t.
I really have no major complaints about “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” It sets up the next phase of the MCU in mind-bending fashion and even the first act — which some may find “slow” — is full of cute awkward young affection and some actually pretty funny lines of dialogue. I’ll say it: “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is not only the best Marvel movie to come out in 2019 (I didn’t stutter), it is the best “Spider-Man” film since “Spider-Man 2.”
Critic’s Rating: 9/10.