With Spider-Man's identity now revealed, Peter asks Doctor Strange for help. When a spell goes wrong, dangerous foes from other worlds start to appear, forcing Peter to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man. (from IMDB)
Spider-Man has had a unique presence on the big screen for the past 19 years. Starting in 2002 with the Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man, with Tobey Maguire in the red tights, the Marvel superhero was given a wider appeal than ever, swinging his way into homes around the globe. Fast forward now to the present, and we have the third entry in a new series of Spidey films, which are set within the much larger cinematic world known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or "MCU" for short). The MCU introduced us to Tom Holland as the webbed wonder in 2016 when he joined Iron Man's team in Captain America: Civil War. Then, in 2017, we got the first full-length Tom Holland-led Spidey film, Homecoming, which set up his own story and cemented his presence in the MCU. In 2018, he joined the Avengers in Avengers: Infinity War, before the work of Thanos erased him from existence. He fatefully returned in 2019's Avengers: Endgame, which brought back the "blipped" people, who had been erased by Thanos, five years later. Also in 2019, we were treated to the first story to follow Endgame with the second Holland Spider-Man movie, Far From Home. In it, Peter Parker is wrestling with how he fits into the world after the loss of his mentor, Iron Man, and what this means for him as a teenage superhero. The film ends with a cliffhanger as his secret identity is revealed to the world as not only Peter Parker, but as the murderer of Mysterio, which just wasn't true. The latest entry into the Spider-Man world is Spider-Man: No Way Home, which opens immediately after the events of Far From Home, showing the fallout of Peter Parker being exposed to the world.
It's tough to discuss what Spider-Man: No Way Home is about without any spoilers, but I will try to only touch on things that have been revealed in the trailers for the film. (So if you even avoided the trailers, then I suggest skipping my review and going to see it!) As Peter struggles with being outed as Spider-Man, with the world split on whether or not he is a hero or a murderer, Peter is finding it very difficult to move on with his life. When he finds it greatly affecting his friends and family's lives as well, he seeks out the help of Doctor Strange to make the world forget Peter is Spider-Man. Strange reluctantly decides to assist and, while casting a spell to make everyone forget his secret identity, Peter accidentally disrupts the spell. As a result, the multiverse is opened and villains from other worlds who know Peter Parker is Spider-Man start to come through. This unusual circumstance allows for familiar faces from previous Spider-Man movies (previously not linked to the MCU) to return, like Doc Ock and Green Goblin -- actors and characters that appeared in the other Spider-Man films that starred Maguire and Andrew Garfield as the title character. The end result is a fun, thrilling and mind-blowing experience that fans of the Spidey films will especially appreciate.
I don't think you will have needed to see any of the other Spidey films to appreciate what Spider-Man: No Way Home attempts, but those who have will get the most out of it for sure. In concept, it may seem hokey -- and exploring the multiverse on TV hasn't always worked, like in the DC Comics TV series -- but in execution here, it's brilliant. No Way Home builds off of stories that came before and puts a new spin on it in a very "What If?" sort of way. Having the original actors reprise their roles also makes it work especially well and fun to watch. It's surreal, but at this point in the MCU, the events of the Avengers films and Doctor Strange make this seem pretty possible (in this fictional world, at least). All of the characters we care about from Tom Holland's Spider-Man movies also return, and thankfully characters that maybe got too much screen time in previous entries (like Flash Thompson, for example), are utilized far more sparingly (in a good way). Director Jon Watts seems to really have figured out what fans want in these films, and he delivers. I have made it clear before that I'm not much of a Zendaya fan, and I haven't really liked her turn as MJ in these movies (save for the latter half of Far From Home), but he's finally likable this time around. Zendaya gives her a much sweeter and grounded performance, and it finally works. I also liked Jacob Batalon's Ned a lot more this time, too. Holland, once again, is a great Peter Parker and Spider-Man, and he really goes above and beyond with his performance this time. He's a solid actor, and he definitely brings it in No Way Home.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is a fun and thrilling film, with action scenes that just tickle the fandom for Spidey fans. The fight between Doc Ock and Spider-Man that is teased on the bridge in the trailer is brilliant and filled with unique and clever moments. This can be said for most of the action sequences, and Spider-Man: No Way Home continues to wow and surprise as it unfolds. But Watts isn't satisfied with just eye-popping visuals and fun moments; he brings lots of emotion and heart into the story, too. The Spider-Man films have always dealt with great cost and loss, and Holland's Spidey is not above such a lesson (as evidenced before by the loss of Iron Man). While the previous film series' have gotten pretty dark and violent at times, Spider-Man: No Way Home touches on this, but holds back from graphic visuals or overtly frightening scenes. I will say that Dafoe's Goblin gets pretty intense at times, and younger ones may certainly find him unsettling, but I'd also say he's probably no more disturbing than he was in the pretty violent 2002 film where his character made its debut. Still, No Way Home has some weighty and emotional moments, despite it also offering quite a bit of fan service (in a good way, that is).
The content is about the same as the other Holland-fronted Spider-Man movies. There's the third consecutive use of an unfinished "What the f---", but it seems a little softer this time than what's heard at the end of Far From Home (it's a recap of that scene shown at the start of Spider-Man: No Way Home). There are about 5 uses of the "S" word (2 of them being Strange's "Scooby-Doo this cr*p" line from the trailer, but the "S" word instead of "cr*p"), and 1 muttered use of "g*dd*mn" from a villain, with a handful of other uses of "Oh my G-d" and its variations as exclamations, and several uses of the "a" word. There aren't any graphically bloody visuals, although Peter's face gets pretty beat up and bloody during the last half or so of the movie. We also watch a character die in a lengthy and emotional sequence (and we see them lying dead with their eyes open a couple times), but the only blood shown is on another character's hand. Otherwise, there is a great deal of superhero violence, but it is seldom bloody or graphic.
I'll stop there as not to spoil anything further for Spider-Man: No Way Home. I had an absolute blast seeing it in IMAX with a room full of clearly diehard Spider-Man fans, and it was one of the best times I've had at the movies in recent years (maybe since Endgame?). It's a solid MCU effort and one of the top tier entries into the series. While my first viewing is clearly a very positive one, I am curious to see how it holds up to repeat viewings, but I have a feeling it'll do quite well. Oh, and if you're wondering about extra scenes: The mid-credits scene is an interesting setup for a potential future villain, while the post-credits scene isn't really a scene, but a trailer for the next Doctor Strange film, releasing in early 2022.
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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