Spider-Man: No Way Home is on the horizon, and it’s perhaps the most anticipated Spider-Man film to date. Does it live up to the hype? Read on to find out. And don’t worry, this review will be entirely spoiler-free so that you can enter the theatre fresh.
No Way Home wraps up a trilogy of Spider-Man movies that began by avoiding some core aspects of the character’s mythology, only to come full circle and embrace them in the end. It’s an ambitious film that tries to pack a lot into its runtime, and while not without its issues, it’s a hell of a ride.
Unlike previous Marvel films whose trailers contained trickery or scenes that never ended up in the movie, this film pretty much follows the trailer beat for beat. In other words, If you’ve watched the trailer, then you’ve already seen the skeleton of the plotline. The world knows Peter Parker is Spider-Man, blaming him for the death of Mysterio, which undoubtedly causes problems in Peter’s personal life. Peter seeks help from Dr. Strange to make everyone forget so everything can go back to normal, but everything goes exactly the opposite. Visitors from other worlds start bleeding into the MCU, and it’s up to our friendly neighbourhood web-swinger to send them home.
However, there are a few surprises which the trailer didn’t show, and they’re the best witnessed sitting in the theatre. I can’t stress this point enough; if you are a big Spider-Man fan, your enjoyment of the film will correlate with the number of spoilers you’ve read. The less, the better. So, avoid any ‘leaks’ or spoilers at all costs!
Let’s start with what was great about this movie. There are a lot of fun easter eggs that will be rewarding to those who are familiar with the history of Spider-Man franchises. Some are so on the nose as to directly quote certain internet memes, but the lines are delivered with a tongue-in-cheek playfulness.
One of the biggest challenges for this film was integrating characters from past iterations of Spider-Man in a natural way, and I’m happy to report it succeeded. Many of the classic villains showcased in the trailers and posters fit right into this world, some of whom fit even better. For example, not only isn’t Jamie Fox‘s Electro blue, as the actor was so happy to state in interviews, but his characterization isn’t as one-dimensional as it was in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Additionally, some call-backs and references redeem the faults of past films, and the movie delivers payoffs to them that justify their existence, rather than let them go down in history as a blunder.
As for Spider-Man himself, we finally see Tom Holland become the classic Peter Parker that comic fans worldwide know and love, but with a fresh twist. His character arc feels respectful and earned, and there and moments along his journey of genuine heartbreak, anger, and joy. This is the best Holland has ever been in the role.
Balancing those intense emotions is a good deal of light-hearted humour, and to my surprise, many of the jokes landed. I haven’t always been a fan of the number of jokes in past MCU movies, but in this case, there were several points where other audience members and I had a good chuckle.
One of the negatives about this film is the flip side of a positive, which is that this film relies on a good deal of nostalgia. If you haven’t seen any of the older Spider-Man movies in a while, this movie takes its time with expositional dialogue to make sure you remember every detail. But if you never saw those movies in the first place, you will be pretty lost, and many scenes won’t hold the same sentimental value.
While it’s great to see classic villains again, such as Willem Defoe’s Green Goblin and Alfred Molina’s Dr. Octopus, bringing them into the MCU does have the consequence that we will never see a new MCU version of those characters. Thankfully the Spider-Man comics have a robust rogues gallery to draw from for future films, but it’s a bit odd that these staple villains are borrowed from another universe.
One character, in particular, makes a brief appearance, but then nothing more is done with them. It would have been nice to have that storyline fleshed out more, but with so many things going on in this film, it’s understandable yet unfortunate that they were sidelined.
Lastly, a few specific plot points don’t quite add up, but I can’t talk about them without getting into spoilers. So, you’ll have to wait until Friday to read my spoiler review. But they are the kinds of things where you just have to turn down the logic knobs in your brain and enjoy the ride.
All in all, Spider-Man: No Way Home is the best of the Tom Holland Spider-Man films so far. It does something audiences have never seen in a live-action superhero film before, bridging together multiple iterations of the lore, and it succeeds for the most part. But, on the other hand, the film doesn’t stand on its own very well, relying on nostalgia and references for a good portion of its payoffs.
I left the theatre feeling satisfied with all my expectations met. That being said, the film didn’t quite go that extra mile by doing something genuinely unexpected or that I didn’t see coming. That’s likely in part to certain rumours I read online, as well as how much of the plot the trailers gave away, which is why I would again recommend watching it knowing as little as possible.
Oh, and you’ll want to be sure to stick around until all the credits roll.
Spider-Man: No Way Home gets a score of 8.5/10
Check back at The Cultured Nerd when the film releases this Friday for my in-depth, spoiler-filled review!