Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man just wants to enjoy a quiet European vacation with his high school pals. Is that too much to ask? Of course, it is. Tom Holland returns as the socially artless Peter Parker in “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” During his summer holiday on the continent, Peter is recruited by Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury to don an advanced Spider-Man suit and join forces with new superhero Mysterio, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. It seems that strange creatures have taken over the elemental forces of earth, water, air and fire and started destroying European cities. Whew.
The writing and directing team behind 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” reunite for a surprisingly successful action adventure laced with plenty of lighthearted and self-deprecating humor. Holland is appealingly awkward, and Gyllenhaal provides some needed gravitas. As usual, the special effects are spectacular even though the action scenes sometimes become a colorful blur.
The real appeal of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” comes from the comic coming-of-age elements. ‘Will Spider-Man get the girl?’ becomes more interesting than, ‘Will Spider-Man get the bad guy?’ Cheeky fun, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is yet another winner in the Marvel Universe.
Last year’s startling horror entry “Hereditary” proved to be an impressive debut for writer/director Ari Aster. His follow-up, “Midsommar,” is equally impressive and equally horrifying. Florence Pugh plays a young woman who clings to her boyfriend, played by Jack Reynor, after her family endures a violent tragedy. They decide to join some friends on a trip to a remote Swedish village for a pagan festival. What at first seems like a bucolic retreat devolves into a sun-drenched nightmare.
This arty creepfest plays like “Wicker Man” as imagined by a demon-possessed Ingmar Bergman. While it has flashes of brilliance, “Midsommar” is overlong and overindulgent.
Still, there’s no denying its macabre power.