This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Daniel Cruse’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
RIDDLED WITH SPOILERS IN CASE THE TAG DOES NOT WORK
Really did not expect to love this quite as much as I did. I wouldn’t consider myself a Marvel fanboy. I would however consider myself a Spider-Man fanboy, and a Jake Gyllenhaal fanboy, and a Mysterio fanboy, etc. etc. etc. There are some aspects of this movie that felt so tailor made for exactly what I wanted and expected from a new Spider-Man film, and honestly I’m still really surprised that I loved it as much as I did. Maybe it’s just cause it’s 3 in the morning and I’ve been up for so long but I had an absolute blast for every minute of this movie and I want to see it again. I think as far as pacing, twists, characters, and action setpieces, this is a top tier example of superhero filmmaking.
No it’s not Space Odyssey or Seven Samurai but I rate movies pretty subjectively based on a mix of technical elements, story, acting, writing, and most importantly, personal enjoyment. I had such a fun time with this movie and seeing it in a packed theater at midnight with 3 friends made for the most exciting theatrical experience I’ve had in years.
It works as a teen comedy, it works as a Spider-Man story, it works as a followup to Endgame and an epilogue to the entire first portion of the MCU, almost like one extended post credit scene that sets up the future to come while wrapping up some loose ends and addressing some questions/concerns from the past all at once. The movie quickly begins by addressing the issue of people coming back and it is never really used for anything other than a joke in this film but I’m glad they at least acknowledged some of those questions in this film. The best use of the “blip” in the film was the line from Martin Starr’s character mentioning that his wife pretended to be snapped to get out of their marriage which was horribly depressing but somehow funny in a bleak way. His entire character was really sad and I just felt bad for him but I couldn’t stop laughing at everything he did.
All of the characters that I loved from Homecoming get their fair share in this film but MJ really stood out to me as I wasn’t a huge fan of Zendaya’s portrayal in Homecoming as the overly edgy and quirky girl who just kinda popped up to say some weird things every few minutes. She felt like a real person here and I found myself totally won over by here from the start. Tom Holland is still my favorite Spider-Man and has been for a while, Tobey and even Andrew are good but this one just works on every level for me.
Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio is now maybe my favorite villain in all of the MCU and maybe my only complaint is that he seems to be done playing the character (unless he fittingly has another trick up his sleeve for the third film). Mysterio has always been a favorite comic book villain of mine due to his unusual methods of villainy and the incredibly cool albeit slightly silly design with that fishbowl helmet. I have always loved the character and it was so beyond amazing to see him brought to screen like this. The suit looked fantastic, Jake’s performance was so engaging and unlike anything I’ve seen from him before, and the visual effects work threw me for a huge loop in the best way possible.
One sequence in particular stood out as maybe the coolest and most interesting scene in any of the twenty something films in this franchise, and that’s the first big illusion sequence involving Spider-Man trying to reach Nick Fury. The film took a surprisingly surreal turn as Peter is thrown through seemingly endless realities and surrounded on all sides by Mysterios and ever changing landscapes, eventually coming face to face with a decaying skeleton clad in Iron Man armor that scarily crawls toward him until the camera pulls back and reveals that Peter is inside of a Mysterio helmet, I could go on but I am extremely tired. It was so visually mind bending, the VFX work in these films continues to impress and be on the cutting edge and those scenes have me so excited to see what they’ve cooked up for Doctor Strange 2.
I knew the villain twist of Mysterio being all fake was coming but it somehow still surprised me in how it was delivered. I could tell most of the audience didn’t expect it and I was worried that it might take an Iron Man 3 turn and have a lot of audience members hate the twist but everyone seemed to be on board with it. I thought it was delivered so perfectly timed and made the rest of the film feel more suspenseful as we could never trust anybody or anything after realizing how Mysterio could alter reality to appear as whatever he dreamed up.
The film has pretty understated but still valid themes that pertain to the dangers of technology in the wrong hands (a persistent idea in the Iron Man films) and the end credits scene literally finds Peter being doxxed globally which is a horror of the post internet world that makes for an interesting way to have his identity revealed. Also while we’re on that point, J Jonah Jameson’s return was so unexpected and glorious that everybody in the theater started losing their minds.
I have ranted and rambled to the point that few are probably reading this entire review, especially considering that the movie is just being released and I’m spoiler tagging this but I will most definitely be checking this movie out again in theaters. I thought it had all the heart and laughs of a great teen comedy along with the amazing visual spectacle and action of a comic book film. It’s kind of a no brained to me that I loved this film as much as I did, it’s my favorite superhero and super villain in one movie, the super villain is played by one of my favorite actors of all time, absolutely loved it. So glad we went to the midnight premiere, those are very rare in my town now but it was more than worth it. Quality wise, this movie certainly isn’t a masterpiece of screenwriting or cinematography, the music wasn’t super notable either, but I can’t deny that I had so much fun with this film and I will unabashedly say it’s one of my favorites of the year.