Spider-Man: No Way Home

Posted: February 5, 2022 in Film reviews
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Directed by Jon Watts  Starring Tom Holland Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon and quite a lot of other people…

(Watched in January.)

Back to the cinema again! Quick warning, this review will be spoiler free insofar as the major plot points of the film go, however I will have to talk about the cast, which does include some surprises. Now I think it’s pretty common knowledge who else is in this film, but just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock and really would like to go into this cold, then maybe skip this review until you see the film.

The previous film ended with Mysterio framing Spider-Man for his own murder, and with J Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons the man who was born to play him) revealing that Peter Parker (Holland) is Spider-Man. While Peter is arrested, he’s soon released, although the world is now divided into those who believe him, and those who believe Msyterio’s fake news (feels very relevant doesn’t it!). Not only does Peter’s life become something of a nightmare, but this rubs off on his girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and best friend Ned (Batalon), and when all three are turned down by MIT Peter visits Dr Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch, who I’m liking more and more in the role) to ask him to cast a spell that will make people forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. This seems relatively straightforward but when Peter realises that MJ, Ned and Aunt May (the underused Tomei) will also forget that he’s Spider-Man, he tries to get Strange to alter the spell mid casting.

In the end Strange gives up, but it seems that he’s cast enough of the spell to have an unexpected impact on the multiverse. Rips are forming in the fabric of reality and villains from other universes are bleeding into Peter’s. Faced with a pantheon of evildoers Spider-Man’s going to need some help…

Okay, last chance…

Maybe it’s just the novelty of sitting in a cinema again for the first time since October and Bond, and only the second time since the pandemic hit, but I really really enjoyed this, and given this appears to be the sixth highest grossing film of all time it seems I’m not alone.

Not bad for a film that takes much of its inspiration from the excellent Into the Spiderverse and from that meme of Spiderman pointing at himself, and a film that lifts much of its cast from pre MCU Spidey films made between 2002 and 2014.

Sure, some elements of the plot don’t make a heap of sense when you think about them, but it doesn’t really matter because the film works so well on a visceral, emotional level, and the script and direction are punchy enough that even thought it’s two and a half hours long, it never outstays its welcome.

Holland continues to excel in a role it seems he was born to play, and I hope any rumours of him stepping down are wide of the mark, especially given where Spidey winds up at the end, wearing possibly my now favourite movie costume (side note one thing I’ve always slightly held against Holland’s Spidey is the patronage of Tony Stark and the gadget laden nanobot infused outfits.) Holland is great though, whether it’s as poor put-upon Peter—and he gets some hefty emotional scenes here—or as quippy Spider-Man.

His chemistry with Zendaya is wonderful, but perhaps not too surprising given they’re a couple in real life, and despite not always having enough to do, she does it well, as does Batalon as Ned whose chemistry with Holland can’t be attributed to an off-camera romance!

Cumberbatch has definitely relaxed into the Dr Strange role, though his accent still feels forced, and he has some good scenes with Holland, there’s also an amusing joke at his expense when we learn he’s no longer Sorcerer Supreme. He isn’t in it much, but Benedict Wong is always a joy to watch as Wong.

Now onto the villains, and what a clutch of bad guys our Peter must face. The Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Electro, Lizard and Sandman! Some fare better than others, in particular Lizard and Sandman get short shrift, but that’s probably to be expected.

As Norman Osbourne Willem Dafoe is just amazing, and proves that he didn’t need that stupid costume back in 2002, his unmasked face is scary enough when he’s in Goblin mode, and he manages to flip between decent human being and maniacal psychopath with ease. Returning as Doc Ock Alfred Molina is also great, and to be honest Jamie Foxx probably gets a better run as Electro then he got in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Of course, as great as it is to see these bad guys show up, what’s even better is when Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield step through from their own universes.

When it first leaked that Dafoe, Garfield, Maguire and co were playing a part here I surmised, as did most people I imagine, that these would be little more than cameos, but the reality is something altogether much better, they’re in the film a lot, they each get their moment to shine and they’re absolutely not here to just make up the numbers, and the brotherly affection that develops between the three Peters is simply wonderful, especially with regard to Garfield as the somewhat side-lined middle child. Now I always loved Garfield in the role, but his films perhaps weren’t stellar, but here he finally gets to shine, and while unlikely, the notion of us seeing Garfield and maybe even Maguire again as Spider-Man is more films a mouth-watering thought.

There’s also a very funny joke shared between the three relating to the very different powers one Spidey has (I’ll say no more.)

The film’s funny, action packed, emotional, joyous and also heart-breaking, and it’s kinda weird to say given this is, what, Holland’s sixth cinematic appearance as Spidey, but this almost feels like the origin story we never got (with him at least).

Just great on every level, sure the plot maybe needed a bit of tightening up, and yes it is kinda hard to tell our three Spideys apart in the final battle, but minor, minor quibbles. This is amazing, this is spectacular, this is friendly neighbourhood…ok that didn’t work.

It’s great. Watch it!

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