By Adam Ray Palmer
A pre-premiere of one of the biggest blockbusters in 2019 cinema took place last night in the Grand Hall here at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.
Marvel Studios first film in phase four is here with Spider-Man: Far From Home starring the web-man himself Tom Holland alongside Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders.
Directed by Jon Watts from a script by Steve Ditko, Spider-Man: Far From Home follows on from the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame. They now live in a world where several Avengers are no longer around including the father-like figure to Peter Parker, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr.).
In this hugely satisfying sequel, Peter (Tom Holland) and his class mates including MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) are going on a European science trip with school. Of course, things are not as smooth as Parker would like who states, “I’m not going to take my Spidey suit, I’m going on vacation”. Little doesn’t he know; he’s heading where the action is at.
A few weeks earlier to his trip, down in Mexico, a huge disturbance took place with an unidentified sand-looking monster that was battled by Quentin Beck (Gyllenhaal), or Mysterio as he becomes dubbed. Beck is from a parallel Earth who is here to fight these mysterious creatures alongside Nick Fury (Jackson) and then of course, the web-slinger himself.
Flash-forward to the school’s trip around Venice, Austria and Prague, which received a resounding round of applause here as shots of the city poured on the screen, Spider-Man is once again tested with these creatures but not all are as it seems. Is there something deeper going on with the Avengers? Is Nick Fury as powerful as he once was (before ‘The Blip’) and can everyone close to Peter be trusted?
Far From Home is a top drawer sequel to Homecoming. The first instalment had the perfect amount of tongue-in-cheek comedy, budding relationships and a great introduction to the new Peter Parker. In this sequel, it goes up a gear. Holland is certainly a Spider-Man that holds his own and to be fair, it has been a turbulent role over the last two decades. Finally, I think Marvel have a Spidey who sticks.
A strength for this movie is certainly the relationships and chemistry between the characters on screen. I think post-Stark’s death, the closeness between them all is really great to watch. MJ and Peter’s relationship begins to blossom with in an innocent and charming manner. Ned and Parker’s hilarious double act is still on point and Jon Favreau’s Happy just does exactly what his name suggests. He makes you laugh every time he’s in a scene.
Gyllenhaal’s performance is also a welcomed addition. He slots right into the Marvel Universe and certainly pushes the film along in all the action scenes. In particular, a sequence in a Prague bar is a personal highlight of a film where Mysterio reels off a rousing speech.
A special mention should also go to the many, many visual effects teams. Genuinely there was a couple of hundred names mentioned on the credits and none of them disappointed. I have seen a little bit of a backlash for Marvel over recent years with the effects going too far and it’s becoming repetitive, but I feel here, those scenes are used perfectly. They complement the storyline and break up the more dialogue heavy sequences.
On the whole, I was impressed. I thought the first movie was a tough act to follow, especially after the dross that Andrew Garfield took part in, Homecoming looked an Oscar-winning picture compared. But Far From Home holds its own, has many laughs throughout and really bounces along it’s runtime – a crowd pleaser I am sure.
P.S. Make sure you stay during the credits for the TWO extra scenes – you won’t be disappointed.
Cineroom’s Rating: 4 stars
Spider-Man: Far From Home is out now in UK cinemas – certificate 12A