This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Rob’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Skrulls... Why did it have to be Skrulls? Strap in for Marvel Phase 616 kids, it's gonna be Skrulls all the way down. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
This was a fun movie. I'm not sure it's really the best example of a great Spider-Man story. But I'll get to that.
I'm gonna start with the villain, because this is where the flick and the story really shone for me, mostly because as a comic fan of 40ish years, I know that Mysterio is fucking ridiculous.
In the comics, Mysterio is a disgraced special effects artist, which would never translate to the modern MCU because based on the credits, every special effects artist who ever lived is successful and worked on Spider-Man: Far From Home. His greatest victory in the comics was tricking Daredevil into thinking a baby was the Antichrist, but let's face facts: you don't need to be Rick Baker to trick a blind fella.
But the script and Jake Gyllenhaal half-convinced me that maybe the MCU was gonna go another way with Mysterio. Before the heel turn, Gyllenhaal played Beck with what seemed to be genuine decency. Combined with that parallel universe headfake, they almost had me convinced. I was kind dreading Mysterio as a movie villain, but it actually worked for me.
Tom Holland is still the best combined Peter Parker and Spider-Man of any of the franchises. He's got the character down at this point, but unfortunately, the screenwriters seem to have forgotten, as did so many of their predecessors, that Spider-Man jokes around while he's fighting. I don't remember a single wisecrack here.
Teenage melodrama has been part of Spider-Man stories since Amazing Fantasy #15, and this movie gets a lot of that right. I know this because I am a middle aged man and the interplay between Peter and MJ, and Ned and Betty, made me cringe like someone was tasering my spinal cord. I've been on both sides of that shit, and they made me want to reach through the screen and shake them and shriek, "It's not that big a deal! Get three years past high school and you'll never see her again!" But this isn't about me.
So if so much was really good about this movie, why is it not a great Spider-Man story? Because through the whole story, every step of the way, Peter / Spider-Man is trying to avoid responsibility.
He ignores phone calls from the head of SHIELD to get ready for his trip. He tries to leave his spider suit at home so he can try to lay into MJ. He gives EDITH away to the first person who looks responsible enough to take it off his hands. He tries to convince Nick Fury to give him a pass on helping to save the world (!) so that he can try to lay into MJ.
Peter Parker can't ignore his responsibilities. It's not in him. It's his tragic flaw and the reason for the famed "Parker Luck": his life is bad because he comes second to his responsibilities. And I'll grant that the arguably worst dereliction - Surrendering EDITH to the first guy who reminded Peter of Daddy Tony - came as a result of bring manipulated by Mysterio into believing that maybe he deserved what he wanted regardless of his responsibilities. But it was that same instinct that KILLED HIS FUCKING UNCLE BEN. I guess I can buy it, and it's played well enough by Holland And Gyllenhaal to sell it, but it doesn't feel quite right to me.
So as entertaining as the movie is, there's a problem at it's center: it doesn't truly understand it's hero. And that's why it just isn't as good as Spider-Man: Homecoming was.
But what the hell. In Avengers 9 we'll probably find out he was just a Skrull anyway, just in time to swap him out for Miles Morales.