“While certainly being the best Spider-Man movie of them all, Spider-Man No Way Home isn’t the game-changer we all thought it would be.”
Well, it’s finally here. After all the hype, all the rumors, and all the excitement, ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ has arrived. The final part of the ‘Homecoming’ trilogy is an event film similar to ‘Avengers: Endgame.’ While the film itself isn’t anywhere near as good as that film, it certainly is a great film in its own right. Storylines are completed. Arcs come full circle. And it features so many joyous moments that it will send the fans home with great big smiles on their faces. But although the film is probably one of this year’s best, it does leave us slightly unfulfilled. While certainly being the best ‘Spider-Man’ movie of them all, it isn’t the game-changer we all thought it would be.
SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME
Before we even get started, let me make one thing clear. This review will NOT contain any spoilers. The film needs to be seen clean. I advise everyone to steer clear of social media until they have seen it. The film starts at the exact point ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home‘ ended. Quentin Beck/ Mysterio has revealed the truth about our web-head hero. He has revealed that Spider-Man is in fact a high school kid named Peter Parker. Beck has framed Peter for his own murder, causing half of the population to turn against him. M.J is immediately surrounded by people, some demanding to know if she’s Spider-Man’s girlfriend.
Peter leaps down to pull her from the crowd. One woman grabs hold of Peter, who throws her hand off gently. She then shouts loudly that Spider-Man hit her. She is the usual type of person who wants her fifteen minutes of fame by claiming a falsehood. Peter sweeps M.J off, swinging through the city, all the while J. Jonah Jameson continues his diatribe of hatred towards our hero. Landing on top of a bridge, Peter’s best friend Ned calls him, astonished by what has occurred. With Helicopters closing in all around them, Peter grabs M.J and swings off with her, using all methods he can to escape the furor. And this happens within the first minute of the film’s beginning! The scene has already been released online before the film opens so there isn’t any spoiler material there.
THE CONTROVERSY BITES HARD
Peter and M.J return back to his apartment. There, he is interrupted by his Aunt May and her on/off boyfriend Harold ‘Happy’ Hogan. The pair have broken up once again, which leads to a funny scene of events. Unfortunately, the Department Of Damage Control has surrounded the entire building, leading to all concerned being led away and interrogated. Peter and M.J return to high school. They are confronted by the students and the teachers. Some are sympathetic to Peter’s plight, others believe the falsehood and accuse him of being a murderer. To make matters worse, Peter, M.J, and Ned’s University applications are all rejected due to the recent controversy and events.
ENTER DOCTOR STRANGE AND OTTO OCTAVIUS
Peter makes the decision to consult with Doctor Strange. His request is for Strange to cast a spell that will make everyone forget he is Spider-Man. Despite warnings of the possible consequences if the spell goes wrong, Strange and Peter decide to continue anyway. But thanks to Peter’s constant changing of what he wants, the spell goes awry. Alerted to the fact an MIT administrator is traveling to the airport, Peter decides to approach her in an attempt to get M.J and Ned’s applications accepted. But while speaking with her, a panic starts on the bridge. Suddenly, a quartet of mechanical limbs starts ripping through the bridge, sending cars flying in all directions. From the resulting dust clouds emerges Doctor Otto Octavius. Doc Ock has somehow returned and is intent on confronting Peter.
MORE VILLAINS EMERGE
After fighting Doc Ock and being unmasked as a different Peter Parker than Octavius thought he was, a Goblin Bomb appears and explodes. A burst of cackling laughter is heard. The Green Goblin has also returned. In addition to Doc Ock, and The Goblin, Electro, The Lizard, and the Sandman have also returned, giving Peter five of his biggest threats of all time to contend with. Thanks to Peter’s meddling in Strange’s spell, the Multiverse has started to leak into our universe. Strange favors sending the villains back to their own universes, thus leaving them to the fates they have already suffered. Peter however wants to try and help the five, to cure them of their afflictions and to rehabilitate them. This leads to a confrontation between Strange and Spider-Man. And the outcome could have dire consequences for all involved.
The film is chock to the brim of action, comedy, and nostalgia. For the most part, it is a completely fun ride, one that we relish in joining our favorite characters on. But the first half an hour packs in so much information, story-building, and scene-setting that at times, it feels like we are being overloaded. A lot of what we discover early on does have a part to play in the following events. But we have to keep a really sharp eye and ear out for every titbit of information coming our way. The first third is still highly enjoyable, with unexpected laughs and genuine warmth along the way.
The final third is as it should be. An exciting climax to what’s gone before. It is quite simply breathtaking. Full-on action, fights galore, and some unexpected humor to boot. How it all plays out, in the end, is impressive. The final third of the film is easily the best. And throughout the film, the visuals are outstanding. As is Michael Giacchino’s score. Once again, the viewer must listen carefully to the music. For in the score lies a few surprises.
But strangely (no pun intended), the middle third lets the film down slightly. Although it is still exciting, with genuinely great action, laughs, and sadness, it lags. Some of what happens during this middle section drag the film down. It is important to the story, and the direction in which it is going. But it feels slow, plodding. And with what we have seen before and will see later, it stops the film from becoming an ‘Endgame’ level movie. And that is a shame because the film is really that good. Whereas ‘Endgame’ kept us all on our toes, with the multiple storylines, here there is just one simple plot thread. And in the middle section, it is stretched too thinly.
A ‘Spider-Man‘ film will either live or die by its villains. And it is true here. The Lizard and The Sandman here are present but don’t really add that much gravitas to the story in truth. They feel slightly shoehorned into the film. That’s not to say that their presence isn’t welcome, it certainly is. But they seem to be in the film to boost up the villain quotient. The same can be said for Electro in some respect. But he does get a story arc that seems suitable to justify his appearance here. Jamie Foxx gives a great performance as the character. And his recollection of his actions fits well within the confines of the story. Thomas Haden Church and Rhys Ifans, I shall be generous and say it was great that they turned up and appeared as their respective characters.
Alfred Molina as Doctor Otto Octavius/ Doc Ock is outstanding. Already a tragic figure from his appearance in ‘Spider-Man2’, here he comes across as someone who, at first is hostile, is genuinely affectionate for Peter. He once again speaks to Peter as a student who could be a benefit to him emotionally as well as scientifically. And his interactions with Tom Holland’s Peter are heartfelt and feel completely genuine.
THE GREEN GOBLIN
But once again, the big bad of them all is The Green Goblin. And here lies another of the film’s strengths. Willem Dafoe slips so easily back into Norman Osbourne/ Green Goblin, it feels like he has never been away. He picks up where he left off and never looks back. And when he is on screen, you can’t tear your eyes away from him. He too is a tragic villain, one-minute kind and generous, the next totally murderous. And you never know who he is at any given moment.
With a film so full of characters, it is inevitable that some fall by the wayside somewhat. In this case, it is Marisa Tomei and Jon Favreau for the main part. But that also includes Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. Cumberbatch’s screen time is about the same as Robert Downey Jr’s in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming.’ He is there for some time, vanishes, reappears, vanishes for a lot of the remaining running time before appearing again late on. Marisa Tomei does get the chance to say a classic line while Jon Favreau appears then vanishes for most of the remainder of the film. His appearances are limited to vital parts of the story before he is off-screen once again.
J.K Simmons is once again completely welcome as J.Jonah Jameson. His constant declarations that Spider-Man is a menace are welcome and highly enjoyable. But again, he has but an extended cameo role in the film. But just by appearing here and there, he makes us smile when he appears on the screen.
MJ AND NED
Zendaya as M.J and Jacob Batalon are once again two of the biggest crutches the film relies upon to keep it up. And, for the most part, they succeed. The interplay between the pair and Tom Holland is inspired. Both supportive of Peter and his alter-ego, both actors play their parts to perfection. And both remain an integral part of the story that unfolds. But again, both seem at times to drop in and out of the film before the film’s climax.
But of course, this is Tom Holland’s film. And he once again plays the dual role of Peter Parker/ Spider-Man with ease. We follow his journey here from a teenager to a young adult. And Holland gives it his all. He is charming, physical, and certainly a hero to cheer for. From the start, we feel his pain, his emotions, his inner turmoil. We follow his journey all the way through to its ending point in the film. We cheer him on, feel for him, even cry for him at times. But he is a perfect fit for the hero. His performance here is possibly the best one he has given so far. Holland optimizes the character to a tee. And I certainly hope to see him in the role again.
Where we leave Peter at the film’s end feels natural. And closes the trilogy perfectly. The final shots of the film will have the fans cheering. Where the character goes from here is anyone’s guess. But the future for him looks unlimited in its scope. We know that Tom Holland will appear as Spider-Man at least once more, this time in the MCU again. But we still don’t know if he will play the character after that. We can only hope. But, in more ways than one, the film’s ending becomes a new jumping-off point. The way it ends could so easily lead to a new way forward for the character. And that in itself is an exciting prospect.
Once again, don’t leave before the end credits. There are two stingers this time out. And both are equally vital for the viewer to see. I also recommend seeing the film on the biggest screen you can. The film is epic in its scope. And features some sequences that deserve to be experienced in the full. It is just a shame that the film does lag in places. But these quibbles aside, the film is truly worthy of seeing in the theatre. To put it mildly, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man this time really is amazing. Web yourself a ticket now.
‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ is released by Sony Pictures Releasing is playing in theatres in the USA from tomorrow and is now in cinemas across Europe.
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!