What we're watching: 'Far From Home' a rocky end to Marvel saga

I've been writing about Marvel films for a long time and watching them even longer. And I always tell people the same thing: stay until the end. The studio has become famous for its use of mid- and post-credit scenes, using them to either set up what comes next or, as often as not, just for some fun, extended joke from the main film.

As I watched “Spider-man: Far From Home,” I had the thought that this film felt like one giant post-credit scene. Goofy and irreverent, this film is meant to serve as the denouement for the so-called “Infinity Saga,” which had its climax earlier this year with “Avengers: Endgame.” And director Jon Watts has a difficult task trying to keep expectations, and the in-movie danger level, high after a film where literally half of everything in the universe was destroyed. For the most part he succeeds, though mostly it's from the comedic interactions of its main cast, rather than the story itself.

In the wake of the events of “Endgame,” teenager Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is feeling pressure to fill the shoes of the now-deceased Iron Man, but wants to focus more on his normal life, which includes a class trip to Europe and spending time with MJ (Zendaya), his crush.

His attempts to distance himself from having to be Spider-man are ruined, however, when a large being seemingly made out of water attacks Venice, and is fended off by a combination of himself and a mysterious new costumed hero. Parker is then shanghaied by super spy Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to help this new hero, dubbed Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), tackle this new threat.

And with that we are off to the races. The standard superhero tropes are here — how do you balance your secret identify with what you want in real life? How do you live up to the now familiar adage about great power and great responsibility? And how do you take over for a now-deceased icon? It's well-worn territory by now, which means its serviceable, but nothing special.

When the film is its most entertaining is when, believe it or not, it dives into the soapy teenage romance territory. We all look back laughingly on the awkwardness of youthful love, and Watts is able to take that cultural head-shaking and turn it into a series of running jokes that do a lot to liven up the film.

Holland, now on his fifth Marvel film, has been and continues to be a good Spider-man/Peter Parker. He maybe plays up the naivete of a teenager a bit too much, but brings the reality of being a high schooler with superpowers much better than other incarnations. Gyllenhaal is a good addition to the cast, taking over the mentor role from Robert Downey Jr., though he becomes more fun during the film's second half when we get to know his character and motivations a bit better.

Honestly, though, now that all the credits have rolled, it's hard to see where the cinematic universe goes from here. “Far From Home” is a fun outing, but it doesn't try to set up anything or really end anything. As just another superhero blockbuster, it's good. As an installment in a series, it's OK. If you are a Marvel fan, go and enjoy. If you aren't, may I suggest “Yesterday” for something a bit different? Oh, before I forget, if you do go, make sure to stay through all the credits.

David Rookhuyzen is a freelance movie reviewer for the Green Valley News.


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