December 22nd, 2021
MOVIE: SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME
STARRING: TOM HOLLAND, ZENDAYA, BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH, JACOB BATALON
DIRECTED BY: JON WATTS
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
How do you not spoil a movie like Spider-Man: No Way Home? That’s the question on every film critic’s mind, including this critic. By the time you even read this you may already know some of the major things that happen. Either way, here is my best run at talking about the newest Marvel installment, which finds a way to make a great superhero movie and specifically a stellar Spider-Man movie at the same time. Following up on the weakness of Far From Home and the messiness of Eternals, Spider-Man: No Way Home finds itself in the company of Marvel’s recent installments that entertain, with Shang-Chi or Black Widow, but even exceeds beyond those two, becoming a top-tier Marvel movie in the process. There’s a lot of characters in this one, but it becomes a deeper dive into the life of Peter Parker, and what it means for him to have the responsibility of being Spider-Man. No Way Home takes the audience on a ride, with the web-slinger swinging higher than ever, and caught in a web of villains that no superhero movie has seen before.
When Spider-Man: Homecoming made its entrance to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, director Jon Watts’ approach was with a sense of teenage wonder, bringing the life of Peter Parker (Tom Holland) to a style similar to John Hughes. I was a fan, felt a refreshing sense of charm in this neighborhood spidey, and was excited to see it continue. But after the disappointment with Far From Home– I was quite bored with it- Watts has found a way to tie all three movies nicely together. The action picks up where FFH left us, where Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) has revealed the true identity of Spider-Man to the world. Now everyone knows, while the debate if Parker was responsible for Mysterio’s death has placed him, best friends MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon), and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) in great danger. Peter wonders if there was any way to go back to a time when nobody knew he was Spidey and when he seeks the help of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), let’s just say some of the spells don’t go in a way that make life easier for Peter. The trouble only multiplies.
One thing that is in the trailers and not much of a spoiler is that yes, the villains from the past Spider-Man iterations arrive. Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock, Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, and Jamie Foxx as Electro, have all become zapped into this universe. They all share a want to destroy Spider-Man, but this is not THEIR Peter Parker, which is where No Way Home becomes a bit of a game of Pokemon Go, leaving Peter on a mission with Dr. Strange to wrangle up all his enemies. It’s in the battles with the baddies where director Jon Watts truly nails the Spider-Man style, fully unleashing the web slinger skills, twirling around pillars, high speed jumps, out maneuvering, and outsmarting his foes with his Stark technology. This is Spider-Man on full speed and it’s delightful to watch.
The other factor that is happening with this third installment into the Tom Holland Spider-Man is a moment where things come full circle. Writers Erik Sommers and Chris McKenna do an excellent job of letting the universe grow around Peter, while tying together all three films, and focusing in on the core themes that drive the character, specifically the emotional connections. A unique factor about Spider-Man is that he’s not unbreakable. He’s a high school kid, with the weight of his responsibilities crushing him like a slab of concrete, while the problems he has affect MJ and Ned with getting into college, or cause Aunt May to be a constant ball of anxiety. What snuck up on me here was how good Holland is as Parker and how much the emotional beats would get to me. When a Marvel movie has you choking up a bit, cheering along with the audience, or worried for the hero’s fate, that’s how you know it’s working.
It’s hard to claim when a movie is top-tier Marvel, but No Way Home has a lot of greatness going for it. The entire cast is a charming mix, with laughter in the right spots, romance when it’s called for, and set pieces that look spectacular. It’s also just a massive accomplishment for the scale and amount of characters mixed in without being crowded. Where Eternals felt like a battle fought in the stars, No Way Home is a fight right in the heart of New York city. It’s grounded in the neighborhood, reaches deeper into the characters we have always loved, and reminds us that Spider-Man is truly one of the best superheroes around. No Way Home is a giant web of entertainment.
SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME IS PLAYING IN THEATERS THIS FRIDAY DECEMBER 17TH, 2021
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady