Spider-Man: Far From Home (12A, 129 mins)

Director: Jon Watts

Stars: Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zendaya

Four stars

It probably won’t have escaped your notice that Avengers: Endgame has been a pretty big deal at the pictures over the last couple of months, with the second highest grossing film of all time providing closure for several of its marquee characters, not least Robert Downey’s Jr’s Iron Man.

The spectre of Tony Stark hangs over not only this direct continuation of both Endgame and Spider-Man: Homecoming but, vitally, over Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man himself. While you could gripe about the fact that we’re now five films in for this iteration of the webslinger and he’s still questioning his identity and place in the world, it should be remembered that he is still just a kid.

That’s because, thanks to the events of the last two Avengers movies (you may have some homework to do), half the world is now five years older. Due to what has been christened the Blip, while some have aged, Peter and a bunch of his classmates – luckily for us, all the ones we got to meet last time out like love interest MJ (Zendaya) and best pal Ned – are still teenagers.

As a result, Far From Home plays out like a high school comedy with occasional bouts of fantasy action breaking out. Their class trip to Venice coincides with the appearance of huge CGI monsters, as well as a potential new Avenger in the shape of Mysterio (Gyllenhaal), a caped, laser-shooting, flying superhero of old-school cosmic ridiculousness, who gets introduced here in a brief pre-credits sequence.

As Mysterio teams up with Spider-Man to fight these so-called Elementals all over the most photogenic cities of Europe, this provides action that is sometimes chaotically familiar, but which eventually manages to evolve into something fresh and unique.

But whatever the spectacle, stay for the delightful cast, the zippy, humorous tone, the chemistry between Holland and Zendaya, and a committed turn from Gyllenhaal. Yes, the implications of the Blip are barely explored, which seems a wasted opportunity, and there are surprises that will only be surprises if you’ve never seen one of these movies before. But so endearing and enduring is the world of Spider-Man that, far from being in its end game, the Marvel universe is far from over.

Paul Greenwood