After two films at the helm, Jon Watts has a handle on all of the magic ingredients that go into making a Spider-Man film. Although Far From Home didn’t quite reach the heights Homecoming did, No Way Home feels like a punctuation point on a superbly-crafted trilogy and a celebration of the entirety of the Spider-Man cinematic history, past to present.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is an Avengers: Endgame scale, live-action take on Into the Spider-Verse that, despite its flaws, feels like the movie event of the year.
The film picks up where Far From Home left off, Peter’s identity as the masked vigilante Spider-Man is world news and his life has been flip turned upside as a result. After this newfound notoriety keeps the trio of Peter, MJ, and Ned from getting into their college of choice, Peter enlists the help of his wizard-friend Stephen Strange to see it can’t weave a spell to help the world forget he’s Spider-Man and restore normality to his friends’ lives. The spell goes haywire and, as a result, the multiverse cracks open as ghosts from Spider-Man’s past pour in through the dimensional tear.
Despite its enormous runtime of just shy of three hours, the pacing is something of a struggle for No Way Home. It introduces the key conflict, the returning villains, and establishes Peter’s day-saving plan all within a whirlwind opening act that flies by at breakneck speed. Fortunately, in keeping with the two prior films, the film takes a hard left turn at the halfway mark and is a tour de force of fan service from that point on. The only regretful thing is that, with the exception of the first ten minutes, we don’t see a lot of Peter’s school life which I felt were some of the strongest parts of the first two films.
To say the film doesn’t suffer slightly from overcrowding would be a lie, with so many villains on board, the film scrambles for a focal point before thankfully settling on the strongest of the lot in Doc Ock and Norman Osborne—roles you wouldn’t believe Alfred Molina and Willem Dafoe had spent decades absent from. The others are just there and serve to heighten Peter’s struggle and add a little bit of levity, but they ultimately don’t enjoy the lion’s share of the spotlight. No Way Home, while being a vehicle for plenty of soon-to-be iconic on-screen Spider-Man moments, also has a great sense of humour and it’s a load shouldered by the entire cast.
There’s a line delivered by Norman Osborne that brought the house down.
The film’s three acts are all punctuated by blockbuster-level action scenes that are all wonderfully choreographed. As someone who often zones out during the ‘boom-crash’ segments, all of the key set pieces are visually pleasing—especially the stoush between Dr. Strange and Peter in the mirror dimension, featured heavily in the trailers, as they struggled for control over the MacGuffin device that holds the power to send the villains home to suffer their predetermined fates.
There are a few instances where it’s super obvious a green screen is involved, but I think that the film ultimately looks terrific considering some of the extremes it goes to. I expect them to sell a great many toys as the suits in No Way Home are all pretty rad, particularly the recon suit Peter wears in place of his paint-splattered get-up. The score and sound design are expectedly top-notch, particularly our first encounter with Electro—the almost unnatural warbling of his power surge made our theatre seats rumble. Michael Giacchino’s score is characteristically epic as he bounces expertly from the film’s bolder moments to its surprising amount of tender, heartfelt scenes.
There are plenty of commendable acting chops on display in No Way Home. Alfred Molina and Willem Dafoe take up their respective guises as though they’d never left them behind while Tom Holland elevates to another level and delivers an at-times powerful performance as Peter, supported ably by both Zendaya and Jacob Batalon.
Spider-Man: No Way Home dives down into the rabbit hole without fear, pulling out plenty of tricks from the hero’s storied cinematic past. Despite its problems, it feels like a worthy closing chapter to the Homecoming trilogy all the while opening new doors for Tom Holland’s Peter Parker who, it was announced recently, will return for another three films.
If Avengers: Endgame was a pay-off of ten years hard toil for the Marvel manufactory, then Spider-Man: No Way Home does the same for two decades of silver screen Spider-Man. The film hits its stride in the second half to deliver the most sensational, spectacular, amazing—any adjective will do—fan experience of the year.
A tremendous tribute to twenty years of Spider-Man on film