No film this year has had nearly enough speculation than that of the MCU’s newest instalment of the friendly neighbourhood webswinger. I won’t lie, I too got caught up if the what if’s this film was teasing like many fans, therefore I want to make it fundamentally clear that this review will be spoiler-free. The logic being applied here is that if it is in the trailer, it’s fair game. Everyone OK with that? Good.
Let’s first start by saying that Spider-Man: No Way Home is without question different from the other MCU Spider-Man films in terms of enticing us with the familiar tone of a Spider-Man film before switching it up to something darker that allows Peter Parker (Tom Holland) to grow up. Emphasis on the “Man” part of Spider-Man. This Peter Parker is no longer the teenage superhero we know, the plot of the film is not one the character can take lightly, and I absolutely love this idea. The difference between who he was at the start and at the finish is clear for everyone in the audience so they can connect to this Spider-Man in a near similar way they connected to him in the comics.
But of course, seeing Tom Holland as Spider-Man once again is not the biggest selling point, despite the fact, his performance as Peter Parker/Spider-Man is his best to date. It’s the villains from the past that get people flocking to the cinemas. If you pardon the pun, Jon Watts takes this great responsibility and handles it in a way we wish all directors would handle nostalgic elements. Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), Electro (Jamie Foxx), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), Lizard (Rhys Ifans) and Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) all appear and all of them are not treated as just characters to throw in for a scene or two, you could consider them all supporting cast rather than cameos. This move is so against the status quo of nostalgia that you feel more grateful for the fact we get to see these actors in these roles again. A lot of the big credit has to go to Willem Dafoe, whose performance in this film vastly outshines his original performance back in 2002.
Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse seemed to be a big inspiration behind No Way Home because anyone who has seen Into the Spiderverse will feel a similar sense of fun and enjoyment. No Way Home is more self-referential than the other MCU Spider-Man films, but it sort of has to be given that this is essentially the past interacting with the present. It’s also why the action scenes in No Way Home are also great because it not only gives us the old villains, but the new environment of the MCU gives us a vague idea of what these villains would be like if they existed in this universe.
The inclusion of Doctor Strange obviously means that you will at some point be rewarded with the mindboggling special effects of different dimensions. Benedict Cumberbatch is once again very charismatic as the Master of the Mystic Arts, but wherein the Doctor Strange film the sound design had the edge, the visuals are much more impressive this time around. This character is built for imagination and the creativity on display in different dimensions is a testament to the pinnacle of MCU imagination.
I will say however that these different dimension sequences are very brief, and I would have liked to explore more of them. There is a wrong and correct way for a film to flex how imaginative it can be, and these sequences are certainly the correct way to do that. Of course, you have to save them for the Doctor Strange sequel coming later next year, but let’s not forget the MCU does like to tease the future to people, so this could have been a great opportunity to tease what visuals we may end up seeing in the Doctor Strange sequel.
It’s hard not to get wrapped up in all the anticipation this film created, No Way Home is at heart a thank you/love letter to all Spider-Man fans, but I believe in certain areas the film takes this notion a little too far to the point where it even forgets it has to be a film. For instance, there is a scene with an exchange of dialogue that, even for fanservice, go on for way too long. It does feel like a scene to fill in the runtime and at first, you are completely accepting of it, but urgency goes kick in and you’re asking the film to carry on with the story.
This film will produce the biggest smiles of the year. I’ve been saying for so long that Marvel’s biggest weakness is its obsession to set up the next film, and Spider-Man: No Way Home is another great example of what can be achieved by focusing on being a film, not just a long two-and-a-half-hour trailer. It is a film that can live up to its own excitement and it proves that Spider-Man is now the MCU’s biggest property. Whether it is a major Hollywood blockbuster or the next instalment of an obscure cult following or an indie film for people in the know, it gives me the greatest feeling of all to see a room full of people smiling. Spider-Man: No Way Home has the power to do that and handles it responsibly and no Parker luck is needed, just maximum fan satisfaction.
Final Result: 8/10 – Very Good
Have you seen Spider-Man: No Way Home? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: The Matrix: Resurrections