Oh what a tangled web... | News | Palo Alto Online |

Movies

Oh what a tangled web...

'Spider-Man: Far From Home' bears the Marvel standard

In order for all area residents to have important local information on the coronavirus health emergency, Palo Alto Online has lifted its pay meter and is providing unlimited access to its website. We need your support to continue our important work. Please join your neighbors and become a subscribing member today.

With tongue knowingly in cheek, "Spider-Man: Far From Home" plops us firmly into teen-movie territory, even more so than Tom Holland's first solo Spidey movie, "Spider-Man: Homecoming." Peter Parker, "a 16-year-old kid from Queens," just wants to bury his recent pain and focus on winning the heart of classmate MJ (Zendaya), but he's surrounded by reminders of "the Blip" (the world crisis caused by Thanos and resolved by the Avengers) and fallen heroes.

Peter's class trip to Europe swiftly goes haywire when "an Avengers-level threat" begins laying waste to Venice. With a plume of green smoke, a new hero arrives on the scene to fight the extradimensional Elementals: Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a.k.a. Mysterio. Turns out S.H.I.E.L.D. is also on the scene, in the persons of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Colbie Smulders).

Immediately, Beck sidles up into the mentorship role Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark has left vacant, meaning Parker has three father figures competing for primacy: the sensitive Beck, the angry Fury and the seemingly hapless "Happy" Hogan (Jon Favreau), who has begun seeing Peter's Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). Putting aside the teen rom-com and superhero theatrics, "Far From Home" serves above all as a coming-of-age story for Peter, who bears not only the weight of expectations every teen feels but, much worse, the weight of the world as the potential heir to the world's greatest hero.

A dastardly villain does emerge, a zeitgeisty one who bellows, "I control the truth!" With at least two fake-news jokes, Peter's lies to cover his secret identity, and a series of illusions and fake outs, "Far From Home" demands reflection on a post-truth world. Marvel deserves credit for the ways it has so far managed to freshen up formula, harness genres to its purposes and hold a mirror up to contemporary society.

By my count, the story globetrots through eight countries, often with eye-catching scenery, and director Jon Watts presides over dizzying, acrobatic action sequences that freely explore the possibilities in following around the high-flying Mysterio and web-slinging Spidey (performance-capture is also used to good effect).

This action comedy moves with alacrity (super-scored by Michael Giacchino), and if the laughs are often corny, they're sold well by the cast, including Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice and Tony Revolori as high schoolers, and Martin Starr and J.B. Smoove as their teacher chaperones -- all inadvertently put into harm's way by the stressed-out Peter. Gyllenhaal's canny performance goes a long way, and Holland continues to believably channel a teenager who makes mistakes and doubts himself, but finally realizes that he's the only one with the specialized skills to save this day. (Don't miss the consequential mid-credits and post-credits scenes, which continue a plot full of surprises and advance the film's central theme.)

— Peter Canavese

We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?

Comments

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay up to date on local coronavirus coverage with our daily news digest email.

Drive-thru farmers markets? The Peninsula's food industry pivots to the new normal.
By Elena Kadvany | 7 comments | 5,888 views

Coronavirus: Plan ahead now for a big outbreak
By Diana Diamond | 23 comments | 4,698 views

The first few seconds after awakening; before I remember the virus
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,927 views

How COVID-19 Affects Communities
By Jessica Zang | 19 comments | 1,621 views

Can you Stay Healthy without Making More Trash?
By Sherry Listgarten | 2 comments | 1,245 views

 

DEADLINE EXTENDED

The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by April 10, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category. Sponsored by Kepler's Books, Linden Tree Books and Bell's Books.

Contest Details