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Spider-Man: No Way Home Review

Following plenty of careful setup via key events in small screen offerings Loki and Wandavision, the third phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is delving head first into the madness of the multiverse. The Spider-Man comics have a long-running connection with the concept, particular during John Semper Jr’s beloved Spider-Verse event and more recently in the Spider-Geddon crossover, so there’s no better character to truly explore the crazy ramifications of messing with the multiverse through. Buckle up for a bumpy ride!

Directed by Jon Watts, Spiderman No Way Home picks up events instantaneously after the closing of Far From Home, following Mysterio’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) broadcast outing Spider-Man’s secret identity worldwide. Peter (Tom Holland), MJ (Zendaya), Ned (Jacob Batalon) and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) are left to deal with the fallout, as Spidey is faced with backlash following his framing, quickly becoming public enemy to some due to J.Jonah Jameson’s (J.K Simmons) broadcasts.  

Their lives are irrevocably changed forever, leading Peter to visit the Sanctum Santorum and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in the hopes of a magical fix. However, when the spell goes sideways, threatening visitors inexplicably linked to Spider-Man, but from different dimensions, begin to appear. Can Peter and Aunt May help give them a second chance before Doctor Strange banishes them back to their own universe? But more importantly, what consequential effects will this have on the larger multiverse and reality as we know it?

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Watts swings big with this film – it’s undoubtedly a hugely ambitious entry with a narrative which could have easily gone awry with the sheer weight of expectation (and the huge villain count) – but thankfully the director pulls it off with thwipping style. While there is a lot of fan service and crowd-please moments, there’s also a huge amount of heart and emotional weight to the film, with the high stakes of Peter’s actions leading to long-overdue consequences, bearing significant ramifications.

While Mysterio (and in turn Loki) first sowed the seeds of the multiverse in Far From Home, No Way Home fully delves into the concept, bringing back Spidey’s rogues gallery in full glory, opening the door to a number of truly exciting possibilities.

Admittedly the film does, at times, get a little messy – particularly in the big action sequences as there’s just so many villains to cram in. However, Watts never loses sight of what’s truly important from a Spider-Man film – Peter’s heart and resolute drive to try and do the right thing, even if it means enduring great emotional hardships. Ah, with great power eh?

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As a lifelong Spider-Man fan – and a huge fan of the animated Into the Spider-Verse – this truly exceeded all of my expectations for a live-action Spidey film. It’s hugely self-deprecating and referential – but in the best way possible (and thankfully handled with a lot of endearing love). The film also features a number of hilarious quips (particularly with the running villainy joke of falling into things) for a hugely meta commentary tackling some of the main quibbles of the previous instalments, with a truly rewarding nature. The humour is note perfect, wonderfully encapsulating Peter’s quippy puns, while capturing the Avenger’s nerdy nature.

There’s been a significant amount of criticism aimed at this version of Spider-Man, particularly in regards to his dynamic with Iron Man. However, even with the addition of Doctor Strange and the pre-MCU Spidey villains, there’s an impressive amount of emotional growth and development afforded to the character. Watts propels him forward in a new and renewed direction, leaving the character in an intriguing situation.

Tom Holland is once again pitch perfect as the young superhero from Queens, with a hugely affecting and emotive performance as he’s bruised and battered – torn between doing the right thing or following orders. In his third solo instalment, it’s also fantastic to see more of his nerdy side explored, with a long overdue delve into his scientific and mathematic talents during the main mission. I do wonder whether Watts/Feige will eventually head down the Dan Slott route with Peter focusing more on his scientific and engineering endeavours (i.e. Parker Industries), as opposed to working at the Daily Bugle – as we have yet to see him picking up a camera.

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But what would a Watts’ Spidey film be without MJ and Ned? The dynamic between the trio really is a true delight, proving the heart and soul of the film. Zendaya brings a really fun and witty spark and earnest nature to MJ, and her chemistry with Holland is genuinely so believable. Batalon is once again the best ‘guy in the chair’ with such a loveable nerdy excitement, also sharing a great dynamic with Zendaya’s MJ as they help guide Peter on his mission. It’s brilliant to see the young trio going toe-to-toe with Cumberbatch’s hilariously ever exasperated Doctor Strange, with MJ wonderfully putting him in his place at one point.

The ensemble supporting cast are also brilliant, with Marisa Tomei proving a real emotional standout as Aunt May, along with the welcome return of William Dafoe’s cackling Goblin and J.K Simmon’s excellent J. Jonah Jameson.

And yes, the film is packed full of amazing Easter eggs and huge moments which will hopefully have audiences cheering like Infinity War or Endgame. There’s also a host of wonderfully realised new suits and gadgets, along with some hugely immersive camera work in the many action sequences. Some of the visual effects do get a little ropey during the climatic third act battle, but that’s unsurprising due to the sheer amount of villains with varying powers and special abilities on show. Michael Giacchino’s score is also a brilliant addition, as the composer also cleverly interweaves motifs from his previous Doctor Strange score, along with also adding emotional heft in key moments.

Verdict

Watts and the cast triumphantly pulls off one of the most ambitious (and heartfelt) instalments yet for a near-perfect Spider-Man flick, which will undoubtedly leave you counting down to the next MCU chapter. This is honestly everything I ever wanted from a Spidey film – I laughed, cried and cheered – and can’t wait to relive the experience all over again.