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  • 3 out of 5

Spiderman: Far From Home - or alternatively, Avengers: Endgame (Epilogue)

Spider-man: Far From Home does what good films do: tell a story and develop the characters. This film does this in a way that few superhero films have done. I believe it's why some of the Marvel films have succeeded where DC films have floundered.

This new spidey film is the first post-Avengers: Endgame film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It works as both an epilogue to that saga and as a bridge to future films. The likable Tom Holland returns as Peter Parker/Spider-Man with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), crush MJ (Zendaya), and other students in the post-"Blip" (i.e. Thanos' Big Snap) world. As Peter and his pals prepare for a school trip to Europe, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), and what's left of SHIELD investigate a bizarre "storm with a face" that's fought by Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a mysterious human from a parallel universe who's later dubbed Mysterio. Before Peter's European trip, Happy (Jon Favreau) gives him a special inheritance from the late Tony Stark: command of EDITH, billion-dollar-tech embedded in a pair of sunglasses. While in Venice, Fury tracks Peter down and commands him to help Mysterio fight the Elementals (sentient natural-disaster villains). All Peter really wants is to confess his love to MJ and to try to move forward as a "friendly neighbourhood" superhero after all of the Endgame drama -- so he relinquishes control of EDITH and ends up in bigger trouble than he ever imagined.

Simultaneously humorous and heartfelt, entertaining and full of teen-angst, this sequel is an exploration of Peter Parker's grief and moving on in a post-Endgame world. The films success is that it focuses on 16-year-old Peter's ongoing struggle to figure out his place as either the "friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man" or the next Iron Man --i.e. a superhero on a global scale. Holland is arguably the most faithful version of Spider-man, an awkward Queens teen who's often unsure of himself.

Still coming to grips with the death of Tony Stark, the dissolution of the Avengers, and the new normal in which some of his former peers are five years older while he's still the same age, Peter craves a normal life and is more concerned with his growing feelings for MJ than answering a phone call from the intimidating Fury. Director Jon Watts, working from a script by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, creates a teen school-trip comedy (with veteran comedians J.B. Smoove and Martin Starr playing science teacher chaperones) as the framing story for a much higher-concept superhero tale.

Gyllenhaal is perfectly cast as Beck/Mysterio, a kind but enigmatic visitor from a parallel universe who seemingly instantly fills a much-needed mentor role in Peter's life.

Some of the battle scenes may be too dizzying and video game-like for some viewers, although that could appeal to younger audiences. The fight sequences are exciting, but what works best in this installment are the characterizations, the teen flick aspects, and the chemistry between Holland and Zendaya. Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice, and Remy Hii all stand out in their supporting roles (as Peter's frenemy, Ned's girlfriend, and Peter's rival for MJ's attention, respectively).

I believed this to be a fitting epilogue to Avengers: Endgame and Tom Holland has the acting chops to deliver this and emotes our feelings at the end of that film.

For those who need to know, there are two post-credit scenes.

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