89 / 100
Watchable Minutes : 148/148 – This is a long ass movie and there’s an almost unearable amount of fan service, but it is still a fun as hell Spider-Man movie and every minute is worth watching.
Movie or Film : As with all comic book movies, Spider-Man: No Way Home is a just a movie. There’s a lot more heart in this one than most other comic book movies, but they just aren’t film material.
- Run time : 2hr 28 minutes
- Studio : Marvel Studios
- Director : Jon Watts
- Where to Watch : In Theaters
With his identity fully revealed to the public, Peter Parker struggles to return to his civilian life. With constant media coverage by those who love and hate him, Peter can’t get a moment alone and it is effecting those closest to him in ways that are outside his control. Desparate for things to return to normal, Parker turns to his fellow Avenger, Doctor Strange for help in erasing his identity from the collective conciousness of the world. But when the spell that Strange casts goes awry due to Peter’s well intentioned meddling, the universe splits open and multiversal foes from generations past begin to appear.
This is a spoiler-heavy review, so if you haven’t seen No Way Home yet and managed to avoid spoilers thus far, maybe bookmark this one and come back later (or maybe catch up on some of my other MCU reviews). There have been many different iterations of Spider-Man throughout the years and with that, many incredible stories have been told. From the animated Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends to the Sam Raimi Tobey Maguire trilogy, the (unfairly) maligned Andrew Garfield entries, Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s Into The Spider-Verse, and finally Tom Holland’s foray as the friendly neighborhood webhead, Spider-Man has endured the test of time and remains one of the most, if not THE MOST beloved Marvel character of all time. The character has so many devoted fans all throughout the world and the continued success of this one Marvel character speaks volumes to the tenacity of the rabid fanbase.
No Way Home begins moments after the events of Far From Home and shows Peter Parker dealing with the fallout of having his identity revealed as a final act of defiance by his previous foe, Mysterio. From that moment onwards, Spider-Man’s fans and critics alike turn their gaze on the man behind the mask instead and Peter struggles to maintain the balancing act required to still be a superhero and a high school student with college aspirations. After his identity is revealed, universities are hesitant to admit one of the most controversial and currently active superheroes onto their campuses. The same goes for his friend Ned and girlfriend MJ, who are both being treated as guilty by association. When the final rejection letter from MIT arrives for all three students, Peter decides to pay a visit to his Avenger teammate in Doctor Strange over on Bleecker Street. Strange is willing to help Peter out for old times’ sake by casting a spell that will erase Spider-Man’s identity from the memory of everyone who knows. However, Peter is unwilling to pay that price and alters the spell mid-cast to exclude his friends and family. But as Strange struggles to contain the alterations to the spell, the fabric holding together the universe is ripped asunder and villains from alternate realities begin to come through the tears and start to wreak havoc on this unfamiliar version of New York City.
Returning to the character of Spider-Man is Tom Holland, who is in my opinion, good at playing both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Where his predecessors were great at one or the other, Holland is able to deliver the quips of the hero and the quiet nerdy persona of the high school student. There’s nothing to dislike about Holland’s Spider-Man and he has earned this trilogy of solo movies because of his ability to portray the character in such a universally beloved way. If the rest of his screentime from other movies is factored in, Holland’s Spider-Man is no doubt THE Spider-Man for an entire generation of kids and fans who grew up on MCU. Accompanying Holland is the usual talented duo of Zendaya and Jacob Batalon. Zendaya is the MJ to Holland’s Spider-Man and is perfect for the role. She’s a modern take on the classic character and does a marvelous job of being an individual character. Previous MJs and Gwen Stacy’s have been relegated to the sidelines for the most part, but that’s not the case with Zendaya. Batalon returns as Ned Leeds, Peter’s best friend. The two characters have such an interesting and realistic friendship on screen that helps sell the whole idea that Peter is still just a kid. The rest of the supporting cast is made up of returning characters such as Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Stephen Strange, Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan, Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May, and Benedict Wong’s Wong. Each of these actors fulfills the bit roles of their established characters with the level of continuity that the MCU requires. Oh, and then there’s Alfred Molina, Jamie Foxx, Willem Dafoe, Tobey Maguire, and Andrew Garfield that show up somewhere in that story.
If somebody would have asked me five years ago if I thought that there would be a Spider-Man team-up movie, I would have told them no way. But after the success of the animated Into The Spider-Verse in 2018, it was only a matter of time before it was adapted to the live-action MCU. This is where the fan service comes in because the only way to make this movie work is to bring all the best aspects of Spider-Verse to live-action and that meant begging (and paying) Maguire and Garfield to reprise their roles as the previous friendly neighborhood Spider-Men. While their presence wasn’t 100% required, it would have been odd to have their respective villains show up without them. Having them on screen did make all the difference though because it brought three generations of Spider fans together for quite a few kick-ass moments. The cynics on various movie subreddits and forums don’t know how to have fun if they take issue with this. Just because it’s cheesy doesn’t mean it’s not allowed to be fun. There was a little bit of everything for everybody in this movie and honestly, it gave Andrew Garfield of all people the opportunity to put a bow on his tenure. He stole a lot of the scenes he was in because of his unique comedic delivery and attitude. He knows that the internet loves to hate on his movies and took it on the chin. I mentioned that Holland is merely good at Spider-Man and Parker, but Garfield is great at playing Spider-Man in a way that hasn’t been done before. He failed in his own reality and was redeemed by his actions in the prime MCU. Then there’s Tobey Maguire, my personal favorite Spider-Man. He was old school, wise, and battered but still confident as his Spider-Man. While Garfield is great at Spider-Man, Maguire is the greatest Peter Parker. He tries so hard to do the right things and no matter how many times he gets knocked down, he gets right back up. He’s the perpetual underdog but still inspires confidence and teamwork with his multiversal allies. Marvel deserves high praise for making this happen and doing it authentically, instead of forcing it.
With the praise for the fan service out of the way, there are still flaws in No Way Home. The writing and dialogue are just as cheesy and convenient as it always is in the MCU. There are a few moments in particular that stick out (“Hey Peter!” followed by “Who me? Or Him? Or Him?”). The ungodly amount of meme dialogue written in for cheap laughs runs rampant. There’s a lot of effort spent trying to make the sacrifices and losses of No Way Home actually mean something, but the meme moments leading up to and after these just take away from them a little bit. There are also a few moments with glaring CGI issues. Alfred Molina’s face looked like it was made out of modeling clay because of the de-aging applied to his persona. The Lizard looked like an uncanny valley version of himself and it definitely was unsettling. There are a few other issues in the CGI department but they are only really noticeable if actively looked for. Lastly, there’s also a totally phoned-in moment of dread when the audience is led to believe that somebody has died, but turns out to be nothing more than a scratch, which cheapens a sacrifice earlier by being undone due to plot armor. These are the typical MCU issues and it looks like not even the biggest comic book event of the year can’t escape them.
Spider-Man No Way Home is the ultimate fan service hype machine but it is still the most fun and well-executed MCU entry since Endgame. There’s a lot to love about this Spider-Man movie, but there are a few flaws that prevent it from being great. Drawing vast influence from previous iterations and animated versions, No Way Home is without a doubt the MCU event of the year and will ultimately provide a shot in the arm for the theater industry.
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