Tag Archives: Jacob Batalon

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) Review

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Spider-Man No Way Home

Time: 148 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Zendaya as Michelle “MJ” Jones-Watson
Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange
Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds
Jon Favreau as Harold “Happy” Hogan
Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon/Electro
Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin
Alfred Molina as Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus
Benedict Wong as Wong
Tony Revolori as Eugene “Flash” Thompson
Marisa Tomei as May Parker
Director: Jon Watts

With Spider-Man’s identity now revealed, our friendly neighborhood web-slinger is unmasked and no longer able to separate his normal life as Peter Parker from the high stakes of being a superhero. When Peter asks for help from Doctor Strange, the stakes become even more dangerous, forcing him to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man.

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I will admit that I wasn’t sure about how Spider-Man: No Way Home would turn out. I enjoyed the previous two MCU Spider-Man movies but my liking for them has decreased over time as I’ve thought about them. Also the fact that this time they would be bringing back new old Spider-Man villains from the previous versions of Spider-Man, it just left me feeling unsure going into it. With all that being said, the movie pleasantly surprised me.

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No Way Home starts with where the last movie ended with everyone learning that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. He was also framed for killing Mysterio but that aspect is forgotten very early, however the public identity is present throughout. One addition which did feel weird going in was bringing in the real multiverse (not the fake multiverse presented by Mysterio in the last movie). However the multiverse actually works for Peter’s story, it doesn’t go too overboard with the multiverse elements and stays true to the core storyline of Peter’s identity. The film never loses focus on what it is. No Way Home is definitely heavily reliant on nostalgia, unsurprising since they bring back 5 villains from the previous Spider-Man movies (with the same actors playing them). However it actually works to enhance the movie and it’s to the betterment of the characters. Something that the MCU Spider-Man movies have been lacking were serious consequences and heavy decisions (outside of the identity reveal at the end of the last movie). No Way Home however really puts Holland’s Spider-Man through the ringer and by the end, the story really does capture the essence of Spider-Man. It gives the character of Peter Parker some tragedy and I was honestly surprised at how dark it could get at points, it’s not constantly light hearted all the way through. But now we get into the issues. Despite what I just said, it’s still very much an MCU movie especially with the use of comedy, in that they have way too much of it (with only half the jokes actually working). Although I will give credit that they do dial it back in some scenes, and I will always praise those instances in MCU movies considering that ever since The Avengers (2012) they’ve really struggled to hold off from breaking dramatic or emotional tension with a quip or joke. There was a lot happening in the movie and as such it’ll require a rewatch for me to fully process it all. However I will say that there is some messiness, particularly in the first half of the movie. That’s where the movie stumbled along for a bit, it’s only when it reaches the middle where it got into its stride.

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I liked Tom Holland as Spider-Man in his previous appearances, but he hasn’t always had the best material to work with. However this is by far his best performance as the character. It certainly helped that this movie really allowed him to be Spider-Man, and he sells the most emotional moments really well. I’m now looking forward to seeing what happens next with him. Compared to the previous two love interest characters in the previous live action versions of Spider-Man, Zendaya’s MJ really doesn’t have much going on as a character. Nonetheless she is good and enjoyable in the part, and she has great chemistry with Tom Holland. Benedict Cumberbatch returns as Doctor Strange in a notable supporting role. I would say this is Cumberbatch’s worst outing as the character, mainly because of his writing and he felt rather out of character throughout much of the film. Marisa Tomei returns as Aunt May, in the previous appearances it’s a rather thankless role and doesn’t do much outside of being Peter’s aunt (especially compared to previous versions of the character). However she is given much more to do here and actually has an impact on Peter and his decisions, which I was happy to see.

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The MCU Spider-Man trilogy have consistently great villains, and No Way Home is no exception. Despite these villains being from the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield Spider-Man films and are actually fairly fleshed out, and most of them go through their own arcs. Sandman and The Lizard are fully CGI creations but those roles are still reprised by Thomas Haden Church and Rhys Ifans. They almost feel added on given that the remainder 3 villains get more focus but I still liked seeing them here. The villain most distinctly different from their last on screen appearance was Jamie Foxx’s Electro. He’s no longer blue like he was in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and his personality has changed to basically Jamie Foxx with lightning, and I can’t tell whether its better or worse. Still he’s fun to watch. It was really nice seeing Alfred Molina return as Doc Ock as well. The standout from the whole movie though is Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin, and he might’ve even topped his performance from Spider-Man 1. He doesn’t really wear the mask for much of the film and honestly it was for the better given that Dafoe is terrifying and threatening here without it. He is such a strong on screen presence and he is one of my favourite parts of the film, easily one of the MCU’s best villains. There are also some other noteworthy appearances which I won’t mention by name but needless to say, I was very satisfied with them.

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One of my least favourite parts of these recent Spider-Man movies was the direction from Jon Watts. His work isn’t necessarily inherently bad, it’s competent but that’s just it. I know that a lot of MCU movies look very similar, but even by those standards, Watt’s direction really lacks any unique style. In some way No Way Home is the same, but for what it’s worth it does show some sign for improvement. Some of the shots and editing are quite bland, but it has its moments, especially when in the scenes set during night time. There’s also some very effective action sequences, the standout without spoiling takes place in an apartment. There are some Doctor Strange dream visuals in a couple scenes, however it’s not as well done as it was in his original movie or in Infinity War. The blue and green screen can actually be terrible at times, with some dodgy CGI. However I liked the action and movie enough to look past those moments. Michael Giacchino can compose some really good scores however for the most part his work on the Spider-Man movies isn’t all that great for the most part, and No Way Home is the same here.

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Spider-Man: No Way Home was one of the most surprising movies of the year. It gives Tom Holland’s Spider-Man a personal story with stakes and weighty consequences which I greatly appreciated, along with it being very entertaining. With some effective action, great and memorable villains (with Willem Dafoe being the standout) and a surprisingly effective use of nostalgia, I really liked it. I’m really interested to see what happens next with this version of Spider-Man.

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Zendaya as Michelle “MJ”
Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill
Jon Favreau as Harold “Happy” Hogan
J. B. Smoove as Julius Dell
Jacob Batalon as Edward “Ned” Leeds
Martin Starr as Roger Harrington
Marisa Tomei as May Parker
Jake Gyllenhaal as Quentin Beck/Mysterio
Director: Jon Watts

Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man (Tom Holland) must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.

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I wasn’t sure what to think of Spider-Man: Far From Home leading up to its release. I liked Homecoming, more than I thought it would, but for some reason I wasn’t as excited as I wanted to be, even with the addition of Jake Gyllenhaal. Not to mention that it being the last film of Phase 3 following Endgame, it feels out of place (like how Ant Man was the last film of Phase 2 even after following after Avenges: Age of Ultron). Nonetheless, I was interested enough to watch it, and it turned out to be far better than I thought it would be. I’d say that it’s probably the best Spider-Man movie in a while.

First thing to note is that I know that some people are going to hate something in the first 5 minutes, and find it to not take the consequences of Endgame seriously and playing things for laughs. I know it’s such a minor part of the movie, but I know that it’s going to be a massive flaw for some people, personally I found it funny. For the first half it is just a normal coming of age Spider-Man movie with the things that you’d expect. With that said it’s pretty solid, and surprisingly works better as a coming of age movie than Homecoming, with all the things that a high schooler would go through. It is one of the funniest movies in the MCU and most of the jokes really land. However in that first half the movie feels pretty standard MCU Spider-Man, and like it is building up to something. When a certain thing happens in the halfway point, and that’s when the movie escalates to being really good and that’s when I really liked it a lot more. One of the big criticisms about this incarnation of Spider-Man is that he’s way too reliant on Iron Man (even becoming a substitute Ben Parker figure), and I will admit I would really prefer that he wasn’t, in fact I’d prefer his solo movies to not be so tied in with the MCU and to be much more standalone. With that said, considering that Stark is dead, it seemed only natural that Parker would feel this giant pressure of living up to him in his next film appearance. I only hope that his stories going forward won’t involve Tony so much. As for Ben Parker, at this point it’s too late to randomly bring him up again, so as long as they don’t keep bringing up Stark, I think I’ll be fine with it. Both of the credits scenes are absolutely must see (and yes there are two). The first credits scene is particularly so vital that I honestly can’t believe it wasn’t placed at the end of the movie, it affects something major in the Spider-Man sequel and I can’t wait for the next movie. So even if you’re one of the rare people who watches all the MCU movies but don’t stay around for the credits, definitely make an exception here.

Tom Holland gets better as Peter Parker/Spider-Man with every film appearance, it’s been really great watching him develop over time. I’m not really into ranking film adaptations of comic book characters but Holland at this point is a borderline perfect Spider-Man. Zendaya gets a lot more to do than in the first movie, in Homecoming (when she was called Michelle) she occasionally appeared in some scenes and at the end said that her name is MJ (why they couldn’t just say that she was MJ from the beginning I don’t know). Some people really didn’t like that she was MJ, but she was really good in Far From Home, and Holland and Zendaya have great chemistry. As far as big screen MJs go, I’m really liking her. Parker’s classmates played by Jacob Batalan, Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice and more also played their roles well. Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders return as Nick Fury and Maria Hill and they play their parts as good as you expect them to, though don’t expect to see a lot of them. Jon Favreau also provides some nice support as Happy Hogan, as always nice to see whenever he’s on screen. I was mixed here with the use of Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May. While I know that between Homecoming and Infinity War, May has no doubt gotten used to Peter being Spider-Man, it just feels really weird to go from her very shocked reaction of the revelation in the last Spider-Man movie to her being completely on board with it. We really don’t get enough time with them, so hopefully in the next movie she gets a lot more to actually do in the plot beyond an occasional cut to her just to remind the audience that she exists. One of my most anticipated parts of the movie was Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, a well known Spider-Man character. Gyllenhaal is one of the best actors working today, so I was looking forward to how he would be in a big budget comic book movie. For a while he does come across as a bit bland, even though I knew there was a reason for it, it was a little too much. However, in the second half Gyllenhaal turns in a really great performance. I don’t really know much about Mysterio from the comics, but from what I can tell he is a really ridiculous character, so I really wondered how they would actually handle him in the movie. Somehow, they managed to adapt him to the big screen in such an comic-accurate way, yet he still works perfectly well in the movie. Vulture in Homecoming felt like a reasonably decent villain made into one of the best MCU villains by Michael Keaton’s performance. Mysterio on the other hand gets a little more focus and screentime, and Gyllenhaal elevates the character even further. So far the MCU has managed to adapt two of Spider-Man’s most ridiculous villains to the big screen in such an effective and credible way, I can’t wait to see how they handle all of his other antagonists.

Jon Watts’s direction has improved immensely since Homecoming. When it came to Holland’s Spider-Man, the action scenes outside of his action in the Avengers movies have been pretty lacklustre. Watts however made the action work very well in Far From Home, from the web slinging to all the danger and destruction that Spider-Man has to face. Every action scene is much larger than in Homecoming’s and much more memorable. Far From Home also contains the trippiest sequence in a Spider-Man movie yet, and I’d go so far as to say that it’s one of my favourite scenes in the entire MCU. The visual effects seem to be improved over Homecoming too, though it does have some occasionally fake looking moments, particularly in the third act. Michael Giacchino’s score was okay in Homecoming, but I think it’s also better here in Far From Home.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is really good, and I’d say is the best live action Spider-Man movie since Spider-Man 2. If you’re interested in the MCU, definitely don’t pass this movie up. The cast is great (particularly Holland, Zendaya and Gyllenhaal), Jon Watts’s direction is great overall, and the movie especially in the second half takes some exciting turns. The MCU incarnation of Spider-Man has been growing on me over time, but with Far From Home, I’m now completely sold on it. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of this Spider-Man’s movies.