Spider-Man: Far from Home (4 stars)

Spider-Man: Far from Home

Marvel wrap up Phase Three with a joyous road trip adventure for Spidey and pals

A sequel to 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming but also – and, for fans, perhaps more importantly – a follow-up to the devastation of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far from Home returns the fun to the Marvel canon.

Picking up after the events of Endgame, where half the world snapped out of existence for five years before miraculously popping back (summarised in a deliciously daft video at the start of the movie), we find Peter Parker (Tom Holland, surely now deserving of the title of best movie Spider-Man) dealing with the loss of his mentor, Tony Stark. The world wants another Iron Man, especially as it seems Thanos-surviving superheroes Thor, Doctor Strange et al are busy elsewhere, but Peter isn't ready for Spider-Man to be more than a friendly neighbourhood hero.

In fact, after helping to save the world he really needs a vacation, and is embarking on a transatlantic trip with schoolfriend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and potential love interest MJ (Zendaya). However, when their first stop in Venice becomes a fight for survival thanks to some giant monsters called Elementals, Peter finds himself called up for Avenger service by Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and teamed with a new superhero named Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal).

As Peter and his schoolmates – along with the baddies – stop off at cities including Prague, Berlin and London, Spidey's adventure becomes an enjoyable mix of storming special effects and National Lampoon's European Vacation-style road trip silliness. Martin Starr is hilarious as hapless teacher Mr Harrington, who manages to screw up at every turn (JB Smoove's witch-obsessed Mr Bell falls flat, alas), there are a few fun digs at American tourists abroad, and some neat European clichés, too, such as the incredibly polite people of the Netherlands and a rescue involving Jon Favreau's Happy Hogan landing Stark's jet in the middle of a tulip field.

Directed by Jon Watts, who also took the helm of Homecoming, there are some thoughtful moments, which the likeable Holland handles with skill, as Peter yearns for a father figure to replace Tony Stark. Beck and Fury are contenders, but it is Happy, also mourning Tony, who is the most endearing, even if he is carrying on a clandestine and slightly disturbing romance with Peter's Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).

While there is less time for a continuation of the cute bromance between Peter and his best pal Ned from Homecoming, there is a believable development in Peter and MJ's relationship that gives the movie its warm heart, which is quite an impressive achievement when you consider that it also fits in some stunning set-pieces (the one around London's Tower Bridge rocks), a nod to the Spider-Man multiverse and one of the trippiest, most visually slick sequences seen in a Marvel movie to date.

The final instalment in the studio's Phase Three, Far from Home is an old-fashioned adventure with cutting-edge cinematic razzmatazz that charms throughout thanks to strong performances, picture-postcard locations and an overarching sense of joy. Keep your eyes peeled for some hints of where Marvel may be going when they enter Phase Four, and stay till the very end for a cute post-credits scene.

General release from Tue 2 Jul.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

  • 4 stars
  • 2019
  • US
  • 2h 9min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Jon Watts
  • Cast: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, J. B. Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, Jake Gyllenhaal
  • UK release: 2 July 2019

After the events of Endgame, Peter Parker (Holland) is dealing with the loss of his mentor when he and his schoolmates find themselves fighting the Elementals. An enjoyable mix of storming special effects and road trip silliness which manages to work in the believable development in the relationship between Peter and MJ…