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Spider-Man: Far From Home **

Anything after “Avengers: Endgame” was bound to be a letdown, yet this feels like more of a letdown than it should have been. 

Is it worth $10? No  

There’s nowhere to go but down for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) after the critical and box office triumph of “Avengers: Endgame,” so it’s not too big a surprise that “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is a disappointment. It’s short of the humor and charm of Spider-Man’s first solo MCU outing, “Homecoming” (2017), while the story, action and visual effects are serviceable but not impressive.

He may be Spider-Man, but Peter Parker is also a 16 year-old teenager (he’s once again played by Tom Holland, who’s 23 in real life). His crush on MJ (Zendaya) continues, and he has a plan: During their school trip to Europe, he’ll give her a special necklace and proclaim his feelings for her atop the Eiffel Tower (oh, the romanticism of teenagers). This doesn’t work for his chubby buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon), who envisions them scoping for babes together throughout Europe. As happens, this becomes moot when Ned becomes enamored with Betty (Angourie Rice) on the flight there.

Meanwhile, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is calling, and Peter is ignoring the calls because he wants to enjoy his vacation. A supernatural force called an “Elemental” draws strength from the earth and is threatening mankind, and with the Avengers gone, Fury has few others to ask for help. There is one person on hand, though: His name is Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), aka Mysterio, who’s from an alternate dimension of Earth and has experience fighting Elementals.

One issue with director Jon Watts’ film is that the visual effects for the Elementals remind of the Sandman effects from “Spider-Man 3.” Nothing wrong with that per se, as the effects don’t look bad, but “Spider-Man 3” was released in 2007, and given all the innovations that have emerged since then, seeing a new release that harkens back 12 years feels underwhelming. The rest of the effects are typically cartoonish, and don’t represent a step forward from what we’ve seen before. It’s competent, just not impressive. Similarly, screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers don’t bring much creativity to the teenage drama; credit the cast for nonetheless making the material mildly amusing.

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On a larger scale, “Far From Home” doesn’t provide much clarity regarding the future of the MCU. It sets up for more Spider-Man movies, certainly, but integrations of other characters and storylines are not here. Thus what lies ahead for the MCU is largely to be determined (a “Black Widow” prequel is in production now, but that won’t tell us much about what’s to come), which in a way makes this movie feel even more like a frivolous, inconsequential one-off.

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” does have a few cameos that are a real treat, but that’s the extent of the surprises. Overall, it’s a lackluster blockbuster that’s a letdown after the colossus that was “Endgame.” If you insist on going to this, do so with understanding and patience.

Did you know?
In the end there’s an important mid-credit scene, and a playful end credit scene that you’ll want to stay for.