Time: 148 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.