The movie takes place just after the Avengers “Blip” that saw superheroes and gen pub alike wiped out, then returned to Earth as good as new. Life at Midtown High School is now back to normal and Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and his classmates are getting ready for a science trip to Europe.
Foreshadowing Stan Lee’s Spider-Man: No More episode, Parker is fed-up with the superhero stuff and plans to head off on his school trip sans Spidey suit, concentrating instead on revealing his feelings to MJ (Zendaya).
Fortunately, Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) has other ideas and slips the suit into his case at the last minute. So when a tsunami in human form rocks the gondolas in Venice, Parker joins Mysterio (a caped crusader with head encased in a fortune teller’s ball, charismatically played by Jake Gyllenhaal) in the fight against Hydro-Man lookalike the “Water Elemental”.
It doesn’t end there, of course. There’s a Molten-Man-style “Fire Elemental” to defeat in Prague and, the film’s pièce de résistance, two stunning VFX battle sequences so surreal in their composition that they’re surely the 21st-century version of Dali’s dream sequence in Spellbound.
There’s some unfortunate sycophantic babble about the late, great Tony Stark (it’s hard to stomach unreserved praise of a powerful, billionaire narcissist given the current political climate). But there are also plenty of tongue-in-cheek scenes that honour the Stan Lee intent of keeping it real – Janice (Claire Rushbrook) steam-cleaning the villain’s cape to get the wrinkles out, for example.
Holland is fast establishing himself as the ultimate Spider-Man with his winning combo of boyish charm, adolescent awkwardness and world-weary attitude to super-hero responsibilities. Zendaya also delivers on gawky teenage nerdiness, while Jacob Batalon (as Parker’s best mate, Ned) is the perfect foil for all the angst.
Samuel L. Jackson is back as Nick Fury, and as churlishly cool as ever. Who else could deliver the line “see now that’s some bullshit” with exactly the right balance of mockery and gravitas? Actually, it’s just possible the ever-suave JK Simmons could pull it off. He makes a late (brief) appearance as J Jonah Jameson, dropping a verbal bombshell into the mid-credit kickers.
Continuing in the vein of Homecoming, Far From Home is a perfect mix of light-hearted, high-school shenanigans and high-class, super-hero action. A delight to see Spidey assume (and ultimately earn) his role in the MCU with characteristic uncertainty. Stan Lee would have approved.