The emotional climax of the movie happens with 20 minutes left on the clock, and it's as powerful a moment as I've ever seen in a superhero film. But then Peter goes through an obligatory crisis, and then receives an obligatory pep talk from his aunt (Sally Field), and then goes off to rescue New York from some obligatory assortment of evildoers—and it's all just so tiring.
And as the lights were coming up, and everyone in the theater took off their glasses and breathed in deep, I was struck by the thought I've known has been coming ever since I saw Thor 2: that visual spectacle isn't going to be enough, that at some point seeing the destruction of yet another city block is going to be old hat. That we need actual characters to not just like but to care about, that pretty soon, every time we see an ad for the next Spider-Man movie or Thor movie or Iron Man movie or Captain America movie or Avengers movie or X-Men movie or Ant-Man movie or Guardians of the Galaxy movie, we'll think: again?
The script is speckled with occasional profanities, but no more than 5 "h-ll"s or "d-mn"s apiece. The violence is, for the most part, comic-book like; it's implied by the shot framing that No Pedestrians Were Harmed in the making of this movie. A character dies from a fall; the action isn't gory or bloody, but still may be disturbing to younger viewers. Peter and Gwen make out a couple times, but it's never over-long or inappropriate. We see a characters transform into a mutant-gross-looking-things, but in both cases the transformations are strobe-lit and unclear enough to avoid being graphic, but are still shot in a way that could be scary for younger viewers.
Jackson Cuidon is a writer in New York City. You can follow him on his semi-annually updated Twitter account:@jxscott