• by Wes Singleton

Spider-Man: Far From Home: B+

Rated PG-13, 135 minutes

The fun, rollicking "Spider-Man: Far From Home" may take place across the pond, but it doesn't stray too far from its Marvel roots. It has some enjoyable surprises (I won't spoil any here) and is the perfect follow-up to the bittersweet "Avengers: Endgame."

Our friendly neighborhood Super Hero Peter Parker/Spiderman (Tom Holland) decides to join his best friends Ned (Jacob Batalon), MJ (Zendaya), and the rest of the gang on a European vacation. However, Peter's plan to leave super heroics behind for a few weeks are quickly scrapped when he begrudgingly agrees to help Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) uncover the mystery of several elemental creature attacks, creating havoc across the continent and coming in contact with another new superhero, Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), also known as Quentin Beck, supposedly from another galaxy, Earth-833.

The charming, swift "Spider-Man: Far From Home" is directed "Homecoming's" Jon Watts and co-written by "Community's" Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers and is the first Marvel film to immediately follow the events of "Avengers: Endgame," which if you haven't heard by now, lost several key Avengers, including Peter's mentor (and my personal favorite Avenger), Tony Stark, aka IronMan (Robert Downey Jr.). "Far From Home" makes many references to Stark, some of them fun, some of bittersweet, including the fact that Stark entrusts Peter with his AI glasses, lovingly referred to as Edith.

In terms of action set pieces and entertainment value, "Far From Home " has few surprises, but then it does feel like it's starting to shape Holland's Spider-Man as the heir to Stark's throne, though he still has a ways to go to be on the same level as the uber-cool Downey was as Stark. The lithe Holland brings a decent amount of vulnerability and humanity to this iteration of Spider-Man, and hopefully he'll grow even more in future outings.

The supporting cast is also strong, with Batalon, Zendaya and Jackson bringing warmth and humor to balance out some of the film's darker elements that include Gyllenhaal's mysterious Beck, who may or may not have some things up his sleeve as new superhero Mysterio, who battles some shape-shifting creatures with genuine athleticism. Jon Favreau, who has been used sparingly in Marvel films outside of the “IronMan” movies (he’s also the director of Disney's upcoming "Lion King" reboot), is a nice addition, though I wanted to see more of Oscar-winning Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, who has only scant screen time here.

Speaking of which, the action set pieces and special effects are "Far From Home's" biggest calling card, and they anchor the film well, with the extended climax in particular, filled with the shape-shifting creatures and plenty of drones, nicely handled and integrated by Watts and company.

Is Peter Parker the next Tony Stark? That remains to be seen, but the fun, funny and action-packed Marvel blockbuster "Far From Home" is a big step in that direction, and you'll be wondering where you can get a pair of those Edith glasses of your own.

#spidermanfarfromhome #tomholland #jakegyllenhaal #marisatomei #jonwatts #zendaya #jonfavreau #samuelljackson #cobiesmulders