This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Matt Wooldridge’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Probably a 3.5 movie when I watch it again with my kids, but can’t shake how weird this movie felt. Firstly for taking all of the characters out of their native habitat but then making this about Spider-Man, of all people, as a potential replacement for Iron Man and having all the unecessary power and responsibility that comes with his empire and tech. So much of this film just made little sense, with those the top two on the list.
The villain is a great idea and was a nice twist I didn’t see coming. Gyllenhaal is great. However when that twist comes, the hugely expository scene outlining it is laughably bad. Zendaya probably steals the movie though, carrying the only plot thread that actually felt right (along with the hilarious Aunt May/Happy Hogan relationship). J.B. Smoove is largely wasted. But the handling of the rest of the kids - including the new guy - is perfect.
Overall the film is just weird. The set up of the villains goes nowhere due to the twist, and despite the conceptually ingenious idea behind the villain(s), the application just isn’t as interesting as it should be. Possibly due to the limitations of hanging this on the character of Mysterio.
It feels like Fiege had a bunch of boxes to tick on this film, with the most important being, why the fuck can’t I make a movie in a vacation setting for once? But the Euro setting is just not a good fit for Spider-Man, something I could sense but wasn’t fully aware of until the final shots of the web-slinger back in NYC, where the skyscraper landscape is far more appropriate.
Which reminds of me of the dumb stinger, which adapts that big reveal back in the Civil War comics. But also strangely brings back a familiar face that, despite how good an actor he is, just feels out of place in these films. But the final stinger, though it momentarily got my hopes up for a Secret Invasion prelude, was very funny.
The whole thing carried the impact of a TV series episode, if this were kicking off a second season. I can’t help list the problems when the first film was so good. There’s humour, but not as funny. There’s action, but not as interesting. It’s just your typical sequel of lesser quality, and I’m glad Coogler is taking his time with Black Panther 2, because with this and Captain Marvel, it feels like the quality of the Marvel movies post-Endgame may be looking at a future of inferiority.