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Film Review: ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ (dir. Jon Watts)

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ is a cinematic EVENT in every possible way. It manages to live up to the outrageous hype and results in a surprisingly emotional, moving, and HUGE movie. Crowd-pleasing without too much deliberate fan service, everybody will find something to love about this.

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This is a no spoilers zone! I don’t want to spoil this for you any more than you don’t want it spoiled, so rest assured I’m being as vague as I possibly can so as not to reveal anything.

You already know the cast, but Spider-Man: No Way Home stars Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Benedict Wong, Alfred Molina, Willem Dafoe, and Jamie Foxx.

You have to leave any perception of reality at the door before stepping into the theater to see this. If you do that, then you’ll have the best time with a movie in a long while. 

Centered around the multiverse, a concept which can honestly be pretty confusing, No Way Home tears it down to its most essential basics here.

Nothing against the other Marvel films, but they’re not always known for the most stellar performances of all time. This film, though, features some truly incredible performances across the board that are challenging for the best we’ve seen from the entire MCU.

Tom Holland delivers what might be the most raw, honest, soul-baring performance of Spider-Man yet. The way he manages to express the most authentic acting with a singular look on his face is what makes him such a standout actor. Zendaya has been criminally underutilized as an actress in the past two iterations of these films. That changes here. And for the better. She is finally upped to proper billing status and given a much more prominent role as an integral part of the overall story.

Tom Holland, Zendaya and Jacob Batalon in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

Reinvigorating new life into the franchise, there is a special kind of magic in the air making a crowd filled with grown men in the audience gasp and cry and giggle with glee.

Everything just feels like it’s being done on a such a grand scale. Each moment has grand consequences, and it doesn’t let up on you until the credits roll. And even then, it’s a Marvel movie, so you stay through the entire credits sequence.

This film is not for the weak. It’s mature and complex and surprisingly deep. You must have a tastefully acquired understanding of the entire MCU in order to understand minute details and references. It might be advantageous to YouTube one of those “see this before No Way Home” videos just in case (or have a quick re-watch of your favorite films). 

You already know to expect appearances from past Spider-Man villains Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Doc Oc (Alfred Molina), and Electro (Jamie Foxx). Every one of them slips right back into character in ways that are really remarkable when you consider just how long it has been since they last portrayed these characters. Dafoe is really a shining star here, and it ranks right up there with some of his best performances (even though he has moved on to some of the more indie, art house films as of late that give him even more chances to spread his wings as an actor).

Tom Holland stars as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Doctor Strange in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

You don’t come out to see a Marvel movie for the witty script and over-the-top conceptual ideas. You come for the fun and the heart of it all. In those ways, it delivers, and there are some pretty incredible action sequences along the way. Don’t let me contradict myself here, though, because it balances out that fun with some equally (if not more) powerful emotion, loss, and heart.

The score really stood out to me. Sometimes with action-heavy movies, the score can get lost in the cloud of explosions, crashes, and sound effects. Not here. Every musical choice feels so intentional and really does an incredible job at invigorating this (already monumental) movie to even more epic proportions.

CGI is used quite a bit here, but how else do you expect them to pull of some of these visual feats? Though, there are certainly times that the CGI feels a bit excessive and like some scenes are a little too over-reliant on the visual effects. It takes us a little bit out of the little bit of realism there is in this universe.

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Doctor Strange and Tom Holland stars as Spider-Man/Peter Parker in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

There is so much going on, but you already knew that much from the trailers. For some, it’s going to feel overstuffed. For others, it’s going to feel like everything they ever wanted. Critics are going to try and tear this apart, and that’s their job. They should do that. In the end, though, it’s hard to argue that any of this doesn’t work because it pulls off everything it’s trying to do.

It has to ride this very fine line between pleasing the crowd and feeling like a deliberate attempt at widespread fan service, and I think it rode that line pretty well all things considered.

Tom Holland stars as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for this franchise, and they know that everyone is expecting greatness. Everyone is talking about this movie. It’s a cultural phenomenon that only comes around every once in a while. That’s good, because Sony and Marvel and co. are ready to deliver on that expectation of greatness with a thrilling joyride of a film.

Spider-Man: No Way Home officially opens in theaters everywhere this Friday, December 17.

One reply on “Film Review: ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ (dir. Jon Watts)”

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