Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) – Reel Review

Director: Jon Watts | 2h 28mins | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

This review contains spoilers.

After his identity is exposed Peter Parker (Tom Holland) enlists the help of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to reverse what happens. When the spell goes wrong, Spider-Man has to defend the city against numerous threats.

Due to the pandemic it feels like a millenia ago that Spider-Man: Far From Home was released, a film that ended with Peter Parker’s true identity being exposed to the world. No Way Home takes place immediately after the events of its predecessor with Peter Parker now in the limelight, trying to balance his relationships, his college applications and the fact the world thinks he killed Mysterio. Jon Watts, who’s directed all of the MCU Spidey films, has the difficult job of maintaining the films personality while also providing as much fan service as a film can possibly offer within the MCU canon.

The MCU films have become so popular due to the dedication of their fanbase and how the behemoth franchise is able to weave different characters into multiple films. Spider-Man sits uniquely as both a Disney and Sony property and the two companies have been battling it out over the pop-culture icon for years. Often we wondered what would become of the web-slinging hero but with two companies combining for No Way Home, what we get is a film that takes fan service to the next level.

Forget cameos (except one from Charlie Cox’s Daredevil), No Way Home is a direct love letter to the character that has been cinematically adored since Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 20 year ago. Including all the cinematic interpretations of Spidey’s villains with the likes of Green Goblin, Doc Oc, Electro and much more, what screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers do is not only celebrate the vast cinematic exposure of the character but also right some sad wrongdoings to the characters while never losing sight of the Peter Parker that is at the centre. After all, what makes a villain intriguing is not their inability to be good, but the humanity that is embedded within them, and to see the likes of Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octavius get redemption is a wonderful touch to a film that is already chock-full of sentiment.

It’s impossible not to love what you’re watching and give into the fandom among the cornucopia of self-referential and explosive action.

Still at the centre of all the multiverse chaos is Tom Holland’s Spider-Man who, despite all the space travelling and avenging, still tries to maintain his teenage life with upcoming college applications. Tom Holland should go down as the best incarnation of the superhero because of the actors uncanny ability to balance giddy child-like optimism with the charisma of a movie star and while it would be incredibly easy to lose sight of the character among the action and scope of No Way Home, Holland remains a unique voice and in doing so keeps his interpretation singular.

What Jon Watts did with his first two Spider-Man films was create a fun, action-packed tone that channels so much of the beloved 80’s teen comedies. While it’s easy to lose interest in these lighter moments of teenage drama when there is so much going on it says a lot about the director’s ability to still make No Way Home feel distinct among a plethora of crossovers and general superhero content. His ability to understand comedic tone that embeds itself into the fibres of each character – rather than shoehorn one-liners into the worst places like a lot of Marvel films do – makes everything you watch in this film all the more endearing.

As the film reaches its climax atop the Statue of Liberty, which pits three Spider-Men against all the villains, we get exactly what we expect from a film that boasts such fan service. No Way Home does unfortunately fall victim to the over-editing of action that these films suffer from, but it’s impossible not to love what you’re watching and give into the fandom among the cornucopia of self-referential and explosive action. But what the film will get more props for, is its ability to balance everything it’s doing and make it so enjoyable in the process.

What will become of this modern Spider-Man franchise is unknown, and while it’s doubtful this is the very end for Holland’s incarnation the film can hold onto the fact that if it is, Spider-Man has gone out on a high (albeit quite a sad one). No Way Home could have so easily got caught up in it’s own magnitude and while this film is purely fan service, it’s the film’s ability to feel so balanced and singular that makes it one of the stronger solo films in the MCU canon.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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