A fan-pleasing, fast-paced superhero romp that manages to do almost everything right — almost.
This review of Spider-Man: No Way Home is spoiler-free.
You have to hand it to Spider-Man. I would guess that there has never really been a more popular superhero than Ol’ Web-Head, and a lot of that has to go to the casting of Tom Holland, and the happy-go-lucky brat pack feel of those previous movies.
The third in the series, Spider-Man: No Way Home, takes place directly after the events of Holland’s previous outing, with Peter Parker being revealed as Spider-Man, and facing the wrath of the press, the law, and pretty much everyone else, who think he has murdered Mysterio. J Jonah Jameson, via Alex Jones, is devoting his whole “show” to degrading Peter, although I’m not sure how JJ is doing this. Is it a live stream, a podcast, a weird news channel? It’s not that clear, but it does seem to get broadcast over giant screens throughout the city.
Well, as the trailer shows, Peter goes to Doctor Strange for help, there is a spell cast that can somehow be tainted by talking over it or something, and a whole sinister set of villains from previous iterations of Spider-Man appear in Holland’s current universe.
To be honest, I don’t really buy the actual premise. Would Doctor Strange be so candid as to just perform this world-changing spell for the sake of Peter having an easy life? Let’s face it, it didn’t really matter to Iron Man, Captain America, or various other heroes when their “secret identity” was revealed, so I’m pretty sure if Pete had ridden the storm, things would have played out ok, but the film has to happen somehow, and this is the way the writers went with.
On top of all that, we know that the good Doctor has a sequel titled The Multiverse of Madness, so it also acts as a setup for that too.
As an aside, there are quite a few scenes with Benedict Cumberbatch, being all Cumberbatchy as Doc Strange, but Mrs. Reviewer pointed out that they should have spent more of the budget on his wigs. It’s the small things that count.
Speaking of small things, there are a number of Easter Eggs throughout Spider-Man: No Way Home, and I have no doubt that there’s probably a video on YouTube that names them all, but in the meantime, you might notice some graffiti scattered around on the walls of the sets featuring names of previous comic book artists from the book. Nice to see Ditko still being noticed.
As the film races towards an exciting well-crafted final act, the audience I watched with was completely on board. It has been a while since I sat with a crowd that clapped and cheered at unfolding scenes, but this Odeon audience certainly enjoyed the various nods and winks from the production, and to be honest, you would have to be pretty hard on the inside not to get swept along.
The makers of No Way Home have gone out on a limb to not only nod to the fans but to rush straight out of the screen to wrap you in a warm woolen blanket of times gone by.
There are moments here of sheer comic book joy. Fans of Spider-Man will find themselves swept up in this almost fan-fiction-style script that pours moment after moment of unadulterated comic book goodness onto the viewer.
It will be these moments that reverberate with reviewers such as myself, leading to almost forgiving the film for the parts when it fumbles the ball. Perhaps there are some very bad scenes with green screen, maybe the plot really doesn’t make much sense, but hey, those feels gonna carry you through.
It’s fair to say that the cast all do well. Holland is of course excellent, it was nice to see Zendaya get more meaty scenes to play with, and the other cast members all do well. There is definitely a heart and soul to this film that will carry it through even the most earnest of reviews.
This is a film for the fans, and often that can be a tricky balancing act, but Spider-Man: No Way Home excels in pulling that trick off.
My only criticism comes from holes in the plot that a spoiler-filled review can tackle. For me, in the meantime, this is a success in the genre. With lackluster offerings such as Eternals and Shang Chi, No Way Home will be a shot in the arm for the industry, but I can’t help but wonder if the whole film is there for Sony to pull the property back out of the MCU, and to secure it’s position as a separate universe, ironic when you think about the themes of the film.