Here’s our review for “Spider-Man: No Way Home” — a truly epic film that’s filled with heart but also manages to be heartbreaking…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
There have been a lot of flaws in past “Spider-Man” films.
Sam Raimi’s trilogy that helped introduce Tobey Maguire as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man started out strong with a first film that also served as an origin story followed by a truly monumental effort with the sequel that is still regarded as one of the best comic book films ever made.
Sadly by the third movie, Raimi had completely run out of ideas and by the time Peter Parker was dancing on top of a piano, it was clear that this series was at its end.
Then came Andrew Garfield in “The Amazing Spider-Man,” which once again reintroduced the character with another origin story while simultaneously offering a different version of Peter Parker in high school as well as a separate love interest from Maguire’s version as Gwen Stacy finally came into the fold.
The movie was surprisingly well done and Garfield was charming as Spider-Man but the sequel failed in all the ways that the first film succeeded. Jam-packing in too many villains along with bad effects and a lackluster story all but doomed any chance that a third movie would be happening.
That’s when Sony finally came to its senses — the studio that owned the rights to Spider-Man decided to partner up with Marvel Studios to not only cast a new webslinger but they would actually bring him into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe so he could interact with characters like Tony Stark while engaging in universe spanning epics such as “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.”
The first two films in the new series — “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home” — were both incredibly well received with rave reviews from critics and audiences alike along with nearly universal praise for Tom Holland as the new Spider-Man.
Now the third film featuring Holland is landing in theaters this week as “Spider-Man: No Way Home” looks to bridge the gap between those three separate franchises with characters crossing over as a result of the new multiverse being introduced as part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Trailers featuring Doctor Octopus from Maguire’s “Spider-Man” films as well as Jamie Foxx returning as Electro from the Garfield version of the story had fans nearly frothing at the mouth for what could unfold in the new movie.
The good news is “Spider-Man: No Way Home” not only pulls off a truly awe-inspiring feat by bringing all of those various characters together in one film but this might be the biggest and best film that Marvel has produced since “Avengers: Endgame” landed in theaters in 2019.
With that said, let’s get to our full review for “Spider-Man: No Way Home”…
While trailers these days tend to give away far too much when it comes to what’s actually happening in a film, those for “Spider-Man: No Way Home” paint a remarkably accurate portrait and still managing not to say too much.
This film picks up just moments after “Spider-Man: Far From Home” ended with Peter Parker’s true identity being revealed after he assumed his life would get back to normal now that he had MJ in his life and he had defeated Mysterio. Instead, Peter quickly transcends into a nightmare after he is outed as Spider-Man and it makes his life even harder than it was before.
Now everybody knows he’s Spider-Man, which makes it tough for Peter to go to school, hang out with his girlfriend or do pretty much anything else that doesn’t end up getting him attention. After it becomes clear that Peter is never going to escape the infamy attached to his name thanks to the way Mysterio lied about his death, the now 17-year-old senior in high school decides to seek help from an old friend.
That’s when Peter shows up on Doctor Strange’s front door to ask his space-traveling buddy if there’s any way he could travel back in time to prevent Mysterio from outing his identity. When Strange reminds Peter that the time stone is gone — along with the rest of the Infinity stones — he then gets the idea to cast a spell that would make everyone forget that he’s Spider-Man.
Of course, Peter soon realized that everyone really means everyone and that’s when he starts getting second thoughts because now his Aunt May, Ned and even MJ would have no memory that he’s actually Spider-Man. So Peter begins tossing out names to Doctor Strange in hopes that he can alter the spell and that’s when everything goes haywire.
Suddenly, Strange’s spell ends up causing a rift in the multiverse and Peter begins receiving some unwelcome visitors.
ACTING, DIRECTING AND SCRIPT
First things first, let’s pay homage to the consistency that these Spider-Man films have managed in no small part thanks to the same director — Jon Watts — and the same writers — Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers — being involved in all three movies in this particular series.
There’s little doubt that really helps the story as well as understanding these characters, which shines brighter than ever in this particular film.
Watts has easily become one of the best directors working in the comic book genre with his work through these three Spider-Man movies with “No Way Home” arguably the best of the bunch. He’s also blessed to be directing from a script that tells a compelling story with equal parts heart, humor and action that will surely have audiences on the edge of their seats and likely reaching for the tissues because there are some seriously emotional moments in this movie.
When it comes to the acting, Tom Holland truly is the perfect person to play both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. He seemingly understands the character better than anybody who came before him and that’s not to say actors like Maguire or Garfield were bad by any means — Holland just elevates the part to a new level.
The breakout star in this particular movie, however, is Zendaya — she’s been great in the other two “Spider-Man” films as well — but this time around she really takes over as the co-lead alongside Holland. Zendaya displays a pitch perfect understanding of not only her character, the relationship she shares with Peter Parker but also managing to hit comedic beats and emotional highs and lows throughout this movie.
Without spoiling anything that unfolds in terms of the story, Alfred Molina also really deserves a lot of credit for slipping back into his role as Otto Octavius after previously appearing as the villain in “Spider-Man 2.” Molina was arguably the best villain that any “Spider-Man” movie ever made so it was a welcome addition to see him return, especially while serving as a foil to Holland this time around.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE MOVIE?
This is by no means a complaint but “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is absolutely stacked to the brim with fan service, which will certainly thrill a loyal audience that loves to see these kinds of films in theaters. On the flipside, there will undoubtedly be some disapproving critics who will say this movie spends too much time with fan service rather than advancing the story but that’s just absolutely not true.
Will hardcore fans who have stuck around to watch all of the various iterations of these characters nearly burst with excitement throughout this movie? Absolutely.
But that in no way means the average moviegoer won’t enjoy this particular thrill ride because it’s anything and everything you could possibly pack into one truly epic superhero film while also managing to rip out your heart a couple of times because this is truly a movie filled with stakes.
For all the fan service, there’s also no shortage of jaw-dropping emotional moments that hit just as hard as anything Marvel has produced over the past 13 years.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is everything you could possibly want in a Spider-Man movie — it’s compelling, it’s action-packed, it’s funny, it’s heartfelt and it’s also heartbreaking. The best word to describe this film is epic — it’s truly epic and if you haven’t already gotten a ticket, run to buy one now and then expect to buy another because you might just need to see this movie twice before it leaves theaters.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” gets 5 out of 5 on the Skolnick Scale.