‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’- Film Review (Non-Spoiler): You’re Not Ready for MCU’s Best of The Year

There’s nothing but the good feeling of sitting in the theater in December to witness the biggest blockbuster cap off the year. Like any other year, the success for the Marvel Cinematic Universe was massive, in both media of films and television series to be enjoyed all over. But there’s honestly no movie during this time that has gotten the most attention, including me, and that’s Spider-Man: No Way Home. We’re talking about the most prominent film to come out this year, and it’s fantastic considering we’ve actually got the third installment when we had that short, scary time where it wasn’t going to happen. But look where we are now. 

What’s the Story: After saving London, everything should’ve been going right in Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) life. But it all comes crashing down after Quentin Beck/ Mysterio released a video to the world, revealing his secret identity as Spider-Man and framing him for his death and the attacks in Europe. Everybody knows who he is now, which isn’t the most remarkable thing for Peter since he’s starting his senior year of high school and the people he loves most are at risk of being surrounded by the controversy around him. Desperate to make things go back to normal, he asks the help of Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to cast a spell to make everyone forget he’s ever Spider-Man. Unfortunately, that doesn’t go well as a few interferences cause the spell to go wrong. This leads to the opening of the multiverse, leading to the unleashing of supervillains who have fought alternate versions of Peter Parkers before in different universes, including Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) and Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe).

Trust me when I say the anticipation was at an all-time high with Spider-Man: No Way Home, and it’s a film that exists and has come out. And yes, it’s a real movie, alright. But was I excited? Who wasn’t? Most directors. I enjoyed 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming and its 2019 sequel Spider-Man: Far From Home more than most fans who don’t get much love. I’m always up for another adventure with the friendly neighborhood hero. Avoiding everything about the film besides the trailers and what they’ve shown to us was a task that was accomplished better than I thought. The question is wondering if this would complete a good trilogy. Because when talking about the Sam Raimi/ Tobey Maguire trilogy from 2002-2007, only two were great. As for the Marc Webb/ Andrew Garfield series from 2012-2014, it was incomplete. All the power and responsibility comes down to director Jon Watts and his writers to present its fans with a satisfying installment that’ll be the most fan service thing in the history of geek culture. It was a lot to process, but I couldn’t believe how much I love this sequel that’s hands down one of the best comic book movies of the entire year. Will I be primarily vague without pinpointing spoilers? I’ll do my best.

For starters, I’ve always wanted to see a movie where we finally get to see what happens when it’s revealed the lovable-relatable geeks is now recognized as a superhero. This goes out of its way to show how it affects Peter and how it can be challenging to be someone who gets seen in a different light for something that wasn’t even true. Compared to the first two, where the first was this coming-of-age high school movie and the follow-up this globe-trotting adventure, it seems Watts really stepped it up for a much bigger while also understanding the growth our main hero goes through. This felt like a true Spider-Man movie we rightfully deserved, at least in this trilogy.

I’ve loved Tom Holland in this role ever since he was introduced in the franchise years back and he’s gotten better with each appearance that showcases he’s a damn good actor. In No Way Home, believe me when I say he gives his strongest performances to date. Holland doesn’t need to be reminded of playing this character or what it means to be a hero. Still, now, he has to draw in the emotional weight that hasn’t been explored too much from him, mostly due to this crisis, along with taking the time to have both Peter Parker/ Spider-Man mature throughout his journey than ever before.  Right from the beginning, when we know he’s 100% innocent, he can be totally believable in wanting his life to get better without the nonsense surrounding him. With each decision he’s making, everyone around him needs to be protected. In addition to the journey, there’s Zendaya as his girlfriend Michelle “MJ” Jones and Jacob Batalon as his best friend/ guy in the chair Ned to make a convincing trio during this go-around when they are there to help their friend no matter what. As for Benedict Cumberbatch returning as Doctor Strange (still perfect casting btw), he’s not in it as much as to overshadow Peter, but there’s enjoyment from the dynamic he shares with Holland was a great one, even though there’s tension between the two after the cause of this multiverse brought to them.

The aspect that was going to be the most complicated task not to have failed was bringing together all three Spider-Man film franchises into one coherent turn with the number of villains that face gone up against our heroes separately. As we’ve seen before with Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, respectively, seeing this many villains from the comics on screen together always turns out to be messy when they should’ve limited it to one. At this point, anybody who’s seen the trailers know who shows up, and it was way better than I thought where I honestly thought it would come off as very overstuffed—quite the opposite. The inclusion of why they’re there made sense that I couldn’t believe was happening. The first appearance of Doc Ock had me excited when he’s facing off against Spidey. But then you also have the return of Jamie Foxx as Max Dillion/ Electro, Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko/ Sandman, Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors/ The Lizard, and Dafoe as Norman Osborn/ Green Goblin. The best thing to say is that they have a significant presence that didn’t resort to them only being included in the third act. But, of course, I rewatched and reviewed the live-action Spider-Man movies in preparation. After the second film in the Sam Raimi trilogy, everything had the hardest time finding villains captivating when they lean into being wasted or underwhelming. But the surprising this is that there’s more to them I wasn’t expecting. I can’t go in-depth with all of them, but all that can be said is they were much better suited in here than the respective movies they showed up in before. It’s just too great to see Willem Dafoe back again in the role that made me recognize him as an actor and the same goes with Molina as Doc Ock since he’s always been my favorite antagonist in all these movies since I was a kid.

And the other aspect that has improved more with each film is the action sequences. There were more in the second movie, but once it hits the second half, that’s when everybody gets on board with what’s going down in the story department. I had a smile on my smile for almost all of them, especially when we first saw Doc Ock fighting Spidey on the Alexander Hamilton Bridge that had me glued to the IMAX screen. We even got some great fights where Spidey uses his fists. But does it get better after that? You bet, and it hadn’t left my brain when going about my business for the rest of the afternoon. Does it have its usual moments of comedy that’ll get you to laugh depending on how you feel about the humor in these movies being consistent, but Watts and company haven’t left out the drama that works really well that hits unexpectedly, the first Spider-Man movie in a while that handles it emotions perfectly. Even at 148 minutes, it honestly didn’t feel that long, and I wouldn’t mind if it were longer.

What I’ve come to appreciate over the years as an MCU fan is being in a nearly packed house of fans who want a memorable experience to talk about for hours after it ends. This did the very same. My mind was comprehending what this had to offer next, and it’s a miracle nothing was spoiled for me prior to the release. But this is one of those films that has to be seen right away because you never know who’s willing to see it right away or skip it entirely. Let’s just say there will be a ton of reactions throughout that might’ve been on the back of everyone’s mind, and I certainly didn’t hide my enthusiasm in the theaters. Call me a “fanboy,” but it’s a great use of fan services earned. There are very few nitpicks that came from my perspective in an otherwise excellent film. While the first half was exciting, it wasn’t as great of what’s to come when it was just setting up the situations the characters must face and what was happening right after the events of Far From Home. And its handling of CGI looked pretty cool at times, while there can be an overwhelming about that didn’t need to be there. If that won’t bother you, this will be nothing short of amazement whenever you check it out. Watching Spider-Man: No Way Home is what I’ve been missing this year, sitting in a packed house experiencing the type of superhero excitement that pumps my veins when it’s good, especially when the crowd is surprised by certain moments. The near future will come with another one, and I’ll be there on opening day because we all need more Spider-Man in our lives. 

Spider-Man: No Way Home is not only my favorite MCU movie of the year, but it’s the absolute best in this trilogy! We have ourselves a blockbuster that was pulled off incredibly well. Tom Holland gives his performance by far, the action was fun, and it gets surprisingly emotional. As a longtime fan of this character, this gave me everything I needed and more. This goes in places that were a surprise and blew me away without going into details. I laughed and even shed a few tears. But, thankfully, this didn’t leave me disappointed as I and everyone else left the theater. Trust me, I will be seeing this again soon since it’s already made my top ten favorites amongst the franchise.

Grade: A-

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