This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Sam Noland’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
It's frustrating that I have to spoiler tag this, but yes, Mysterio is the villain, and I can't tell if the movie expects me to know that going in or not. Either way, it makes for a really weird first half that feels more like housekeeping than anything (the movies immediately following the big crossovers often carry this burden; at least it's not Ant-Man this time).
I also have a feeling that I'll always be put off by the MCU's humor-drama contrast, specifically with how they repeatedly insist on including both within the same scene (bathos), so I still need to come to terms with that. The cast makes a lot of it work, and I'm glad that the MCU's own Spider-verse is building its own roster of memorable characters (Ned is still the best).
As expected, there's certainly a lot of fun to be had here, but while I think the dramatic angles are often quite effective, I can't help feeling that this is a bit confused, or at least appears so. To me, Holland's Spider-Man has yet to emerge as anything beyond a small piece of the Avengers puzzle, only occasionally getting a chance to grow before us (the Spidey-suit construction is a good example of this, and did legitimately bring me to tears).
As with Homecoming, I love that Peter is confused and unsure of himself here, and I only wish that it amounted to something more profound or conclusive by the end. I understand that these stories get to unfold over several chapters, but even for all its incident, this chapter honestly feels a tad incomplete. For all of the familiar Spider-tropes that Marvel has shied away from, I honestly think that a solid reading of "With great power comes great responsibility" could send this arc where it needs to go.
As it stands, it's a lot of sporadic character development wrapped in a more self-contained villain plot (Gyllenhaal is a brilliant Mysterio, by the way), and I only wish I was able to get more out of it by the end. Again, it's a ton of fun to watch, and features some of the most inventive uses of the spider-powers that I've seen, but I hope to look forward to a movie in which the greater Avengers universe is hardly a concern (it's an outlandish desire, I know, but I can dream, can't I?).