‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Review: Fun, Ridiculous, and Surprisingly Emotional

Little did Sam Raimi know when he started cameras rolling on “Spider-Man” back in 2000 that he would be launching the first film of an accidental 20-year franchise…

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the third film of the MCU Spider-Man series starring Tom Holland in the titular role. Following the events of “Far From Home,” the world knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man and he requests Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) cast a spell to have everyone forget. After the spell goes array, villains from other universes (Jamie Foxx, Willem Dafoe, and Alfred Molina) start arriving. Jon Watts returns to direct as Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Benedict Wong, Tony Revolori, and Marisa Tomei reprise their roles.

When the concept of bringing back the same actors to play the same villains was first announced, I was excited. Having grown up on the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire films, with the second film being one of the first times a film left me speechless in a theater, the idea of Alfred Molina returning, as well as Jamie Foxx redeeming his role as Electro from the Marc Webb/Andrew Garfield “Amazing Spider-Man” films, really intrigued me. At times the film feels a bit overstuffed, but some great homages, action, and (surprisingly effective) emotional moments make for one of the more effective MCU outings in a while.

Tom Holland is a talented actor and very charismatic in the role of Peter Parker, and he gives his most effective performance to-date here. The reasons he wants the world to forget his secret identity are fleshed out and more than just “I want my privacy back,” and Holland continues to have his high school character grow and mature.

Reprising their roles from 2002 and 2004, respectively, Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina (Green Goblin and Doc Ock, respectively) are having a ball returning to their villainous roots. Molina, who is digitally de-aged to resemble his younger self, already received a redemption arc in his own film, but gets to offer a deeper look into the character’s turmoil. Dafoe is arguably more menacing here than he was in any of the Raimi films and does a great job with his Jekyll and Hyde routine. The action here is great, and seeing Doc Ock and Green Goblin get to have fight sequences with modern CGI is a treat for us who grew up watching these bad guys fight Spider-Man.

As Electro, Jamie Foxx gets a redesign, essentially playing an entirely new character. It is cool to see a more comic-accurate rendition than seen in “Amazing Spider-Man 2” though at times Foxx’s jokes are a bit jarring compared to the tone and the rest of the cast. At times the tone of the film itself can be a bit inconsistent, doing the classic Marvel thing of inserting a quip into even the most serious of scenes, but overall I liked the vibe.

What really sets the film apart from many of the other Marvel films is there are multiple scenes with very effective emotional payoffs. On two occasions I got a lump in my throat, and at one of them the woman next to me was holding back tears. The film manages to humanize a few bad guys and add depth to their films in retrospect, as well as raise questions about duty, fate, and confronting mortality, and that isn’t something easily done, especially by a comic book movie.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is a film 19 years in the making, and surely will be a much different experience for people who grew up in the original series than today’s young kids. By expanding the MCU and implementing a very fun and original idea of having previously-ended franchise characters return, it manages to act as both a stand-alone project as well as provide some comforting fan service. “No Way Home” may not be the best Spider-Man film, but it certainly is the *most* Spider-Man film, and is the best theater experience I’ve had since “Avengers: Endgame” back in April 2019.

Critics Rating: 8/10

Sony Pictures

3 thoughts on “‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Review: Fun, Ridiculous, and Surprisingly Emotional

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