(director: Jon Watt; screenwriters: Chris Mckenna, Erik Sommers; cinematographer: Matthew J. Lloyd editors: Dan Lebental, Leigh Folsom Boyd; music: Dan Lebental, Leigh Folsom Boyd; cast: Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Marisa Tomei (May Parker), Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan), Jake Gyllenhaal (Quentin Beck/Mysterio), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Cobi Smulders  (Maria Hill), Martin Starr (Mr. Harrington), JB Smoove (Mr. Dell), Zendaya (MJ), Remi Hii (Brad Davis), Jacob Batalan (Ned Leeds), Angouri Rice (Betty Brant), Tony Revolori (Flash); Runtime: 130; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal; Sony; 2019)

“A summer film as palatable as lemonade and as nutritious as cotton candy.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Jon Watt (“Cop Car”/”Spider-Man: Homecoming”) directs in a hokey and playful way this schlocky teen-lite Marvel comic book film that overdoses on gorgeous CGI’s, nonsensical fun and anxious teen romantic relationship building. It’s well-executed but emotionally empty. It’s written by Chris Mckenna & Erik Sommers for the masses to sleep on as a safe super-hero film, no deeper than the average super-hero comic for teens. It plays best as a summer film that’s as palatable as lemonade and as nutritious as cotton candy.

Things kick off after the tragic events of Avengers:Endgame, where in a Thanos incident known as “the Blip” some superheroes were killed and half the population wound up losing five years before reappearing. The 16-year-old Queens high school student Peter Parker– a.k.a. Spider-Man (Tom Holland, the 23-year-old Brit) is depressed after losing in “the Blip” his mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downing Jr.). The kid keeps his Spidey role as a secret from all but his intimate circle (like his trusty guardian Aunt May-Marisa Tomei; her supportive boyfriend, the former assistant to Stark, Happy Hogan-Jon Favreau; and his nerdy best friend Ned-Jacob Batalon). Meanwhile the bashful Spidey is lovesick over his smart hipster cutie classmate MJ (Zendaya), and with help from Ned is trying to get up the nerve to tell her this on the vacation.

Stark left his protege an invaluable pair of high-tech sunglasses–containing the program of an Edith figure acting like a virtual Siri, with the power to carry out his commands.

On the summer holiday class trip to Europe, Peter must stop in Venice an evil force called the Elemental–a monster that takes the form of earth, water,fire and air. Spidey is so pre-occupied with the trip he refuses to take calls from the bossy fixer from Avengers Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who desperately needs his help to defeat the Elemental monsters. Fury instead calls on Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a supposed alien visitor, dressed in spandex and sporting a goldfish bowl as a helmet. Beck morphs into Mysterio, and using his super-powers and magic saves Venice and then Prague from destruction. Thereby Spidey marvels at him as a wise adult and possible surrogate dad, and mistakenly gives him Stark’s gift–meant only for him.

When it’s finally revealed by the Elemental attacks in Venice, Prague, Berlin and London that Beck’s a bad guy, a fake super-hero with nefarious purposes, it’s up to Spidey to take him down, retrieve those powerful sunglasses and, of course, get the girl.

What results is just another well-executed but forgettable superhero movie.


REVIEWED ON 7/5/2019       GRADE: B-