by SC Reviewer Shelby Larsen
So, it’s summer and our movie going choices are down to franchise films, remakes, and an occasional over- long examples of ego, and self- indulgence (looking at you, Quentin Tarantino), or just a remake (cough, cough Disney’s Aladdin and Lion King).
With the exception of Yesterday, I haven’t seen a film that captured imagination or heart, at least among the major releases.
So, faced with the choice of The FAST and FURIOUS spin-off of Hobbs and Shaw—a franchise that started as an auto race-chase-explosion movie and now seems to have morphed, according to the trailer, into the standard implausible characters acting in implausible manners, and doing impossible things through CGI to save the world from total destruction, or the above referenced Once Upon a Time in Hollywood revisionist gore-fest, perhaps the best choice was Spiderman: Far From Home.
Which could have been titled Marvel’s Spiderman’s High School European Vacation. It’s clear that Marvel intends to continue to extend the “Marvel Universe” into new and under -explored or hitherto unknown characters, while old friends fade away. RIP, Tony Stark, but worry not. Your legend, and your gimmicks linger, at least for a while.
Tom Holland’s undoubted charm in Avengers: Endgame, is wisely used here, to make a completely (almost) believable sixteen-year-old superhero who really just wants to be a teenager with a couple of very cool, better than skateboarding, tricks. Unfortunately, while he is eagerly planning to be away with his high school classmates, including the very hot MJ (Zendaya) the superhero uberboss, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) needs his help to counter yet another threat to all mankind.
Nick Fury—I doubt if anyone has ever just called him Nick—is forced to rely on this inexperienced friendly neighborhood Spiderman, since all other Avengers have either joined Tony Stark in the great beyond, or are “off-planet” Which sounds a little like the movies I was dismissing as trivial. The difference is that 1) Marvel clearly intends to venture further and further into its’ “Universe” and we might as well keep up with it, and 2) Tom Holland.
Make that 1) Tom Holland, the saving grace of this movie. He makes the struggle between “I just want to be a normal teen” and “with great power comes great responsibility” choices believable. Even though you know in the end he will do the right thing, and save the world, you also empathize with his desire for a short vacation from that “great responsibility” thing. He doesn’t want to save the world this week; he just wants to hang, and maybe pursue his attraction to MJ while in a foreign locale.
In a sort of coming of age as Spiderman story, it’s a decent plot line. Ignoring all the pseudo-scientific mumble jumble, young Peter Parker learns that either choice, “normal teen” or “superhero” has consequences both big and small, for himself and those around him. Nick Fury learns that being the awesome boss of a secret society of superheroes doesn’t necessarily provide him with the skills of coping with a sixteen-year-old. MJ and other high school kids and teachers provide some of the light touches of coping with adolescents and begin to understand about those who are different in some way.
All good reasons to see the film, which, if not still in theaters, should pop up on cable or streaming services in the not too distant future. But mostly, see it for Tom Holland. He makes me wish that, like Peter Pan, he won’t grow up and will be my friendly neighborhood Spiderman forever.