REVIEW: ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Is A Exhilarating, Emotional Celebration of the Web-Slinger’s Cinematic History

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Spider-Man No Way Home - But Why Tho

Spider-Man: No Way Home is a Colombia Pictures/Pascal Pictures film produced in association with Marvel Studios, directed by Jon Watts. The film picks up immediately after the mid-credits scene of Spider-Man: Far From Home, with Peter Parker (Tom Holland) dealing with the fallout of Mysterio revealing his secret identity to the world. With his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), girlfriend MJ (Zendaya), and best friend Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon) also under heavy scrutiny by the rest of the world, Peter asks Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to cast a spell that will make the world forget his dual identity. However, when Peter attempts to refine Strange’s spell it backfires, pulling in people from across the multiverse who know Peter Parker is Spider-Man. And many of those people—including Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), and Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx)—don’t have the web-slinger’s best interests at heart.

To say No Way Home is one of the most anticipated films of the year is an understatement. Ever since news broke out about villains from both the Tobey Maguire/Sam Raimi and Andrew Garfield/Marc Webb films appearing in this film, speculation has run wild about who will show up throughout the movie. I can safely say that whichever version of Spider-Man you prefer, there will be something about this movie to enjoy. I, for one, am happy Molina returned as Octavious; his performance remains just as layered and compelling as it was in Spider-Man 2 and his rapport with Holland is a rather intriguing one. Similarly, Dafoe brings a dark menace to the proceedings as Osborn struggles with his Green Goblin persona and Foxx is allowed to inject some of his trademark swagger into Electro. It also helps that Electro receives a redesign that brings him closer to his comic book design.

Holland, however, is the standout of the film, and rightfully so. Watts, alongside returning screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, put Peter through his paces; J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons, in fine form) labels him a “menace;” people think he’s a murderer; his superheroics even cost him the ability to go to school peacefully, as well as a shot at MIT. Holland runs the gamut of emotions here. There are two scenes where he breaks down completely—the first in sorrow, the second in anger—and both had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Holland has been stretching his dramatic muscles in other films including The Devil All The Time and Cherry; clearly, he took a few lessons off those sets.

Zendaya, Batalon, and Tomei also deserve praise, as they form No Way Home‘s emotional core. I’ve always said that the people in Peter Parker’s life help him get through the tough times as Spider-Man and that’s especially helpful here, as Ned and MJ prove surprisingly helpful in dealing with the multiversal villains. Tomei is front and center in the film’s most emotional scene, which addresses a criticism I’d had with Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home. Though Peter becomes Spider-Man due to losing his Uncle Ben, his Aunt May gave him his heart and that is on full display as he fights to help the villains avoid their fate.

That brings the web-slinger into conflict with Strange and delivers one of many pulse-pounding action sequences. From a chase through the visually arresting Mirror Dimension, to a battle between Spidey and Ock on the highway, to a final fight on the Statue of Liberty, each sequence makes use of Peter’s arachnid abilities and showcases how Watts has grown as a director. Watts, McKenna, and Sommers also avoid the pitfalls of Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 by actually spending time in the villains’ heads and making them full-dimensional characters. They also manage to balance Peter’s identity issues with the multiversal madness, making full use of the film’s two-and-a-half-hour runtime.

If there is one issue that No Way Home runs into, it’s that it never quite sure what to do with Strange. True, Cumberbatch’s prickly personality as Strange provides a different but refreshing departure from Iron Man’s laissez-faire mentorship in Homecoming and Nick Fury’s cloak and dagger tactics in Far From Home. But here, he darts in and out, only appearing in climactic moments. While Strange’s powers make him somewhat of a deus ex machina, I do feel he could have been utilized a bit better.

Spider-Man: No Way Home serves as an exhilarating, emotional, and epic celebration of the web-slinger’s cinematic legacy, with Tom Holland and Jon Watts pulling out all the stops. There’s something for every Spider-Man fan here, and I hope that they enjoy it if they can make it to the theater safely.

Spider-Man: No Way Home will premiere in theaters on December 17, 2021.


Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • 9/10
    Review - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Spider-Man: No Way Home serves as an exhilarating, emotional, and epic celebration of the web-slinger’s cinematic legacy, with Tom Holland and Jon Watts pulling out all the stops. There’s something for every Spider-Man fan here, and I hope that they enjoy it if they can make it to the theater safely.

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