Film Review: “Spider-Man: No Way Home”

Features writer Kayla Swartzberg shares her thoughts on the newest installment of the Spider-Man franchise in this spoilerful review.

This review contains spoilers.

Marvel. Cinematic. Universe. An American media franchise that has transformed into a worldwide sensation. And whether the Marvel films receive criticism or praise, there’s no such thing as bad publicity for them. It just makes them stronger. Almost like a superhero. At the end of the day, it’s hard not to marvel at Marvel. The glitz, the glamour. The hero, the villain. The love, the loss. Good and evil, fights and friendship. And everything in between.

It’s as buttery as popcorn.

And “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is no exception. It deserves its place on the Marvel shelf, perhaps even placed in the forefront. After all, the movie has already racked up over a billion in the box office. Ka-pow.

But the question remains: What makes this particular movie so desirable? What makes it so successful? Is it the way it dresses? Its character? Humor? Its fighting spirit?

For one, we are reunited with easy-on-the-eyes Tom Holland as Spider-Man. The audience favorite looks as buff and built as … well, a superhero.

Holland’s character in the beginning of the film remains fun-loving, with just a sprinkle of naïveté. Or maybe a truckload of it. This is because Peter Parker begs Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to create a spell that makes people forget he’s Spider-Man, but tries to doctor it (get the joke?) while in motion.

And, of course, everything goes wrong.

While resorting to magic might not have been the greatest of ideas, it’s understandable that Parker would feel this desperate. After Mysterio blamed his own “death” on Spider-Man and revealed Parker’s identity, the world became polarized.

Their fictional world almost mirrors reality as we see social media posts about Parker, rallies, marches, and even books about him. Director Jon Watts creates a colorful explosion of opinions as the fallout continues. Clever camera-work that echoes the long-stretches and quick movements of “La La Land” enliven the screen. And the music by Michael Giacchino only enhances it.

It’s a dance — down to the way the half-dressed Parker struggles to close his window.

Best friends MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) add their own verbal choreography through quirky one-liners. More so, Zendaya’s pronounced role as Parker’s love interest adds a new dynamic to the film.  In a way, her character brings a sense of sobriety to Peter’s happy-go-lucky attitude. Her running line: “If you expect disappointment, then you can never really be disappointed.”

It’s needed — because “No Way Home” has more blood on its face than the previous two movies. It isn’t afraid to show the dirt, the dust, and the damage.

Even the death.

And yet, “No Way Home” still manages to keep the audience comfortable with its laissez-faire nature and somewhat witty jokes. Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) never fails to bring a smile to a scene. Additionally, the banter among the three Spider-Man characters (surprise!) is particularly refreshing. Both Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire act as variations of Parker, thus making the trio of “spidermen” that much more entertaining.

Some older villains grace the screen again, notably Dr. Otto Octavius/Dr. Octopus (Alfred Molina), Ray Dillon/Electro (Jamie Foxx), Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard (Rhys Ifans)  and Flint Mark/Sandman (Thomas Haden Church).

And perhaps a Green Goblin thrown in too (Willem Dafoe).

The villains are needed in the movie as much as the heroes. Their unique backstories and suffering are brought into the spotlight, making the scenes more thought-provoking than in past Spider-Man films.

Ultimately, this medley of old and new faces is perfectly catered to the fans and doesn’t feel too cookie-cutter. From reunions to run-ins, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” covers its bases in glistening spidery webs. There’s something for everyone.

So grab that buttery popcorn and enjoy.

Grade: A
Directed by: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina
Release Date: Dec. 17, 2021
Rated: PG-13

Image courtesy of Variety.

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