Spider-Man recently encountered his most dangerous real life foe, Hollywood executives fighting over his movie rights. At stake, his place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), fortunately Spider-Man triumphed again, for now.
After this dust up and recent events in the Avengers, it’s hardly surprising “Peter Parker” AKA Spider-Man” (Tom Holland) needs a vacation. Surely Europe is far enough away from world ending disasters?
Peter remains an awkward love struck teenager, his repeated attempts to tell “MJ” (Zendaya) how he feels are interrupted by super-hero duties, not the usual teenage angst.
Together with best friend “Ned” (Jacob Batalon), the school group travel to Europe with their anxious teacher guardians. First up is Venice, followed by Prague then London with each iconic destination experiencing damage following Parker’s visit.
Every Spider-Man needs a villain and the “Elementals” (wind, fire, water & air) are formidable foes, creating havoc wherever they appear, mostly in photogenic tourist spots. Whether this is an oblique reference to climate change is debatable but fortunately, Spider-Man has help from “Mysterio” (Jake Gyllenhaal).
“Nick Fury” (Samuel L. Jackson) is also keen to enlist Parker’s assistance, despite his misgivings that Iron Man’s possible successor is too inexperienced. In the mean time, “Happy Hogan” (Jon Favreau) steps into to fulfill the father/son/mentor role left by Stark and Hogan’s interest in Parker’s Aunt (Marisa Tomei), provides some amusing scenes.
This is a second solo outing for Holland as Spider-Man and follows on from the last Avenger’s film, where large swathes of the population disappeared only to re-appear (mostly) after five years away.
Marvel usually manages to find the right tone and this film is no different, with the mixture of action and humour expertly balanced. Newbies are also provided a quick catch up lesson to bring them up to speed with the series.
This Spider-Man series skews younger but provides the target audience a far more relatable character. Holland is the perfect choice, showing early promise in the “Impossible” before becoming a star in his own right.
Jackson adds his usual gruff demeanor and is unafraid to mess with his on screen personae. Tomei adds a bubbly “Aunt May”, making it obvious why Hogan’s head would be turned and Gyllenhaal adds a bit of star power to the few non CGI scenes he is granted.
Production values are high, with expensive location shooting, augmented with stunt and effects work on sound-stages but with mostly seamless transitions.
As expected there is a significant amount of CGI work, most of what you see is just one’s and zero’s but this is modern cinema and Venice for one, has enough issues without Hollywood destroying half the city.
There is an extended middle surreal segment which drags on for longer than necessary but overall, returning director Jon Watts keeps the tone light and the story moving. The screenplay also takes an unexpected turn, at least for those unfamiliar with comic book story arcs.
Another expertly tooled entry in the ever expanding canon of Marvel films. This will delight most Spider-Man fans new and old.