By: John M Jerva
The year of 2021 definitely was an up and down rollercoaster in terms of action cinema fair but one positive light was that theaters started to make a comeback after the blitzkrieg that was 2020. Even though pickings were still slim to say the least, there were still some positive takeaways to be had and this year certainly ends with a bang with the release of the newest MCU Phase IV entry Spider-Man: No Way Home. Everybody’s favorite web-slinger was back in full effect in a film that was part comic book fan service, part drama and part ultra-high-octane actioner that had all the trimmings to make fanboys swoon with sheer delight at the spectacle on the screen.
It’s hard to do reviews like this because I do not want to be that jerk that spoils the fun for everybody. I already had it done to me earlier this year when some jackass spoiled the ending of Daniel Craig’s last outing as 007 in No Time to Die. I still have not seen that movie because I made the simple mistake of scrolling through my Facebook news feed. How dare I. I’ll never understand why people drop the hammer and try to spoil it for the rest of us. Perhaps I will do another review for this Spidey outing further down the road when I can truly talk about all the glorious highlights it served up. Until then, I will do my best to tell all of you that are waiting to see this film that you must do so at all expense because it definitely lives up to all expectations and gives us one of the greatest Spider-Man films ever and basically delivers Tom Holland’s best performance yet as Peter Parker/Spider-Man,
No Way Home opens up exactly after the ending of Far from Home as Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio has served up Parker on a platter right before he dies. Now he’s public enemy number one and must now figure out a way to navigate this mind field as those closest to him suffer the consequences of him being Spider-Man. Peter has a genuine huge heart and he wants to make it right and do right by those he loves like MJ (Zendaya), his best buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon) and, of course, Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). Peter runs to Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to help him out and Strange runs a spell that will make everyone forget that he is Spider-Man, Unfortunately Peter, being the Peter that he is, messes things up when Strange is in the middle of it all and all hell literally breaks loose in the form of the multiverse.
With chaos fast approaching, Peter starts to run into some villainous foes from other dimensions that are looking to kill Spidey and he isn’t even the Spidey they are looking for. Before the world is thrust into eternal damnation, Peter and his besties must fight all this new evil with the help of some really familiar faces.
In the months leading up to the release of No Way Home, rumors ran rampant on who was involved in the movie and people did their damn best to find out what happens even before the film even opens. Again, I’ll never understand why people want to do this. I miss the days of old before the internet and social media where everything was a surprise and the only way you found out what happens in a blockbuster was by buying a damn ticket and seeing the film itself. Those days are gone unfortunately and now we must constantly run a gauntlet of land mines to try to keep things fresh before release day.
Without spoiling anything, I will say in this review that No Way Home lives up to all the expectations and then some and delivers one of the most enjoyable comic book movie viewing experiences in a long time. My favorite CB films are Endgame and Zack Snyder’s Justice League and even though No Way Home doesn’t quite measure up to those two films in my eyes, it damn sure comes close and it might just pass them on certain days depending how I feel at any particular moment. I was successful in navigating said mine field and even though I was pretty sure about a few things, I was still surprised at every turn and the 10-year-old fanboy inside of me was smiling from ear to ear. This one has it all. Heart, tear jerky moments, thrilling action and enough fan service to satisfy even the most jaded of fan. Simply put, if you don’t like this comic book movie, chances are you haven’t liked any that came before it and won’t like any that come after. Either that or you’re just a Scrooge.
First up, let’s talk about Tom Holland. I know everyone has their favorite Spider-Man and whether it be Holland or Garfield or Maguire, I feel that this performance of Holland will win you over if his other ones didn’t. Holland reaches the pinnacle of heights here and basically makes the role his own and should be a serious contender for best Spidey ever. I’ll go on record as saying that I’ve enjoyed them all, but Holland will always be my personal favorite. He just has it down to a T and here he comes full circle with his interpretation of the iconic superhero. In just a short period of time, Holland’s Peter Parker has gone from a young, novice teenager who so definitely wanted to be an Avenger to someone who had to balance the responsibility of being a hero and role model and lastly, a man who realized what had to be done and what price had to be paid to do the right thing and save those he loved and everyone else for that matter. Holland’s Peter parker is without a doubt one of the greatest, if not the greatest, character arcs in the MCU or any other comic book franchise for that matter.
The rst of the cast is great as always and the inclusion of past Spider-Man villains was a stroke of genius and really sells the movie. It’s not a spoiler to say that Alfred Molina returning as Doc Ock or Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborne/Green Goblin are worth the price of admission alone. Dafoe steals the show and even Jamie Foxx, who returns as Electro is great. Zendaya, Batalon and Tomei are sensational like always and it was great to see Jon Favreau return as Happy Hogan who again delivers a lot of the comic relief. Now the ones that are involved in the movie that I can’t mention are a sight for sore eyes and make this film the great comic book experience that it is and they all have terrific chemistry on screen together. I will say that one particular MCU cameo was a missed opportunity as he was only in one short lived scene, and I wanted to see so much more of him. Hopefully he will be back to full effect in later MCU outings.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange is more of an extended cameo but every scene he is involved in is top tier. Cumberbatch really has some terrific scenes with Holland, and it almost made me want to see an MCU buddy film with the two. They are that good together and again I did want more of that but what I got was just fine.
The action set pieces are epic in scope as usual and there isn’t one action scene that doesn’t deliver on all cylinders. There is enough set up of course with the two hour and thirty-minute running time but it doesn’t drag as something major happens every couple of minutes. The finale alone is everything fans could want, and you’ll know what I mean when I say that it gave me ample goosebumps the entire time. It was everything I wanted and more in a climax and to see the group of individuals involved doing what they were doing and uniting as one to stop the threat was a sheer vibrant comic book come to life. I do believe that hard core comic fans like myself will definitely get more out of it and what it means then the casual mainstream viewer, but all should enjoy the pinnacle of the movie for what it is…complete fanboy service.
I will warn you that No way home will tug at your heart and there is more than one scene that will make your eyes water. The stakes are higher here and when particular things happen and happen to certain beloved characters. you will feel every little once of sadness. This is certainly one of the most emotional MCU installments this side of Endgame.
Let me just add that I will never understand why some people and filmmakers in general bash comic book movies and tell us that they are not truly movies. This makes mad as hell, and I will go down to my last breath defending these movies as high art. After all, they have some of the best plots, acting, action, emotion and anything else that any Oscar winning movie has and they shouldn’t be attacked just because the source material is comic books. They just don’t get it and I wouldn’t even waste my breath trying to defend this to them. I feel sad for them, I really do but I digress.
Overall, Spider-Man: No Way Home talks the talk and walks the walk. It’s a comic book film that lives up to all the hype and I just hope you are able to go into it without any premature spoilers because the surprises elevate the film. This movie has heart, gut wrenching emotion, laugh out loud humor and thrilling action sequences that are worthy of any action film. Tom Holland delivers his best performance to date and makes the case as to why he should be considered the best Spider-Man on film. Hopefully, I’ll get to relive this review further down the road and get a chance to really talk about all the great moments it has and all the great characters that show up. The ending is severely bittersweet, and I hope there is a happier ending for our beloved Peter Parker, i will say that. The fan service is unrivaled, and you should walk out of the theater feeling energized as your inner child breaks out. This is the MCU film that is on league with Avengers: Endgame and I am excited to see what the future has in store for Peter Parker and the rest of Phase IV. There I was able to review this film without blurting anything out. I must give myself a pat on the back for a job well done.
P.S. As always, stick around during the credits as there are two stinger scenes with the second being a full trailer to a furure MCU flick!