The multiverse unleashed.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is a 2021 superhero film directed by Jon Watts, written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, produced by Columbia Pictures, Marvel Studios, and Pascal Pictures, and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing. The film is based off of various Spider-Man comics by Marvel Comics. It stars Tom Holland and Benedict Cumberbatch. It was nominated for Best Visual Effects, but did not win. This is the twenty-seventh film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the thirty-second project. It is also the ninth Spider-Man film, but the third in the Spider-Man Home trilogy. It acts as a sequel to Eternals, but, chronologically, it is a sequel to Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Venom: Let There Be Carnage. It will be followed by Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One). A direct sequel has also been confirmed.
"Be careful what you wish for, Parker." -Doctor Strange
After Mysterio reveals his identity to the world, Peter Parker goes to Doctor Stephen Strange to fix his problems. Strange casts a spell to help Peter out, but accidentally releases multiverse hell on the universe. As super villains from every universe start to come through, Peter must prepare for his greatest battle yet as he has to save his world from a possible catastrophe.
Conclusion to Spider-Man As a Whole / Fan Service / Characters and Arcs / Emotion / Action / Performances / Pace / Character Interactions / Entertainment Value / Visuals / Specific Plot Elements / Unclear Science Jargon / Lizard and Sandman / Wanting More
My Expectations Going Into the Theater
If you haven't been following recently, my expectations for Spider-Man: No Way Home were through the roof. I have been counting down the minutes until I see this movie. Since the end of Far From Home, I've been waiting to see what they were going to do with the third Holland Spider-Man. And then Alfred Molina was confirmed. And then Jamie Foxx was confirmed. And then the trailers came out and blew my head off. Then it opened with a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and blew my head off.
I haven't been this excited for a movie since Avengers: Endgame, and, before that, ever.
Oh. My. God.
About an hour ago, I left the theater in awe of Spider-Man: No Way Home. So I am still very much drowning in the excitement and craziness of the film. I do acknowledge that I have recency bias, so my more accurate thoughts will probably be on display in my spoiler review on Monday.
With that said...
This movie is everything I wanted. To start off, it not only concludes Tom Holland's Home trilogy in fabulous fashion, but it also does a great job of being a finale to all eight Spider-Man films that resolves character arcs and dangling plot threads from Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy and Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man duology in an absolutely incredible way. The script would make you believe that they had been building towards this and planning it since the first Spider-Man film in 2002. It's stunning. They were able to pull all of this together and pay it all off in the most satisfying of ways.
And the fan service is just so much fun. From beginning to end, there are moments that will put a gigantic smile on your face. My theater was cheering like crazy. There are scenes that will give you goosebumps and make you want to stand up and clap...which is exactly what I did. Obviously I can't go into specifics, because this is a spoiler-free review, but come back on Monday for that spoiler review so you can hear me get into specifics.
The one thing I was worried about with No Way Home was the balancing of the characters and if they'd be able to make it feel natural. Both Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 were overstuffed with villains, which is what caused the eventual demise of those respective franchises. No Way Home takes all of those villains and simply continues their character arcs from their films. It was awesome. They are able to complete their character arcs in the most impressive way possible. Once again, I will get into more of it in my spoiler review, but I loved the way that they were able to pull it all together.
This film can also be really emotional. The character relationships cause some extremely bad things to happen, and it can get the heart swelling. It doesn't quite have the emotional weight of Endgame, but it's really heavy. As things start to fall apart, it does have the domino effect where it is just gut-punch after gut-punch until the finale.
The action was also great. There's definitely CGI, but it looks good. You can't really tell that it is CG. They combine the best of the Spidey action. Like the movie, you get hints of the Raimi-style action, the Webb-style action, and the MCU-style action. I love that they paid homage to the previous Spider-Man films in the action. It was very cool. Even the way that some of the climactic moments in the movies play out, there are clear nods to previous Spider-Man films. It's great.
And I think, without a doubt, this has the best acting of any MCU movie. Tom Holland gives it his absolute all here. He brings the charm and wit of the previous movies, but also has the emotion that was present in Infinity War and Endgame. It can be a gut-wrenching performance, but also an uplifting one. He was very 3-dimensional with his performance, and I loved that. Zendaya is also incredible. Once again, near the end, her emotional side can be very powerful. Jacob Batalon has the goofiness of Ned that he's always had. The villain performances were all pretty good. Willem Dafoe was, obviously, the standout. He is just as nuts as he was in the first Spider-Man. Molina is great. Foxx is great. They were so much fun to see on the big screen again (or, in my case, for the first time, because I didn't see the Raimi or Webb movies in theaters).
And this film is paced extremely well. It moves at a breakneck speed so that you are never bored, but it doesn't rush through plot elements. It makes sure every idea is developed well enough, and then progresses through an awesome payoff or great action scene. The movie is two and a half hours long, but it felt so, so, so short. As soon as it was over, I wanted to see it again.
It's also just fun to see all these characters interact. We have never seen Tom Holland meet these villains, so that's fun in and of itself, but you then forget that Jamie Foxx's Electro has never met Alfred Molina's Doc Ock. Hell, we haven't seen Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin with Molina's Octavius. And they know each other! So that was really fun. Yes, that's the novelty of the movie, but I really loved that aspect of it.
And I think that No Way Home is easily one of the most entertaining movies in the MCU. I mean, it could be the most fun movie in this universe. There was not a moment in this film where I was bored. There was about five seconds during the movie where I thought to myself "Okay, they are lingering on this thing for too long. Let's move on.", and then they did. And that's the closest to bored I was.
Lastly, the visuals are pretty great. I know I talked about the CGI with the action earlier, but there are some very cool parts involving Doctor Strange that has the bendy, kaleidoscope-like scenery that I find just incredible. Jon Watts is able to direct these sequences just as well as Scott Derrickson was able to in the first Doctor Strange. It's a small element, but it just adds to the greatness of the film.
While No Way Home is very, very good, there are a few things that bothered me.
First off, there are some specific plot elements that I am not going to get into, but they were a little iffy for me. There's a specific storyline involving Ned that I was not a fan of. I thought it was very random and a little bit too over-the-top for me, so that was just an example. Again, I will get into all of the nitty gritty details in my spoiler review on Monday.
Near the end of the movie, there's a certain thing that Peter is trying to do specifically that required some science stuff that I didn't really latch on to. Near the end, he's making all of this stuff for a specific reason, but the scene where he makes it involves a lot of science jargon that I didn't really understand. There were a few times where that was the case, and I wasn't a huge fan of it.
While I do think that the villains are balanced and given actual characters instead of being gimmick cameos, I feel like Lizard and Sandman got shoved in the background. Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, and Electro all have compelling motivations for what they are doing. However, I don't really think Lizard and Sandman do. They are still fun additions to the film. They still serve a purpose. But they are definitely overshadowed by the other three villains. Even in the trailers and posters, Green Goblin, Doc Ock, and Electro are given the spotlight. And they kind of sideline Lizard and Sandman, which is sad, because they really could've given them more to do.
Both Jon Watts (the director) and Tom Holland have seemed to imply that this is going to be the last of Holland's Spider-Man films. And I don't think No Way Home sets that up at all. It's a great conclusion to this trilogy...but that doesn't make it a great conclusion to the character. It'd be like if The Avengers was the final MCU movie. It's a great finale to Phase One, but that does not mean it's a great final film for the MCU. There's still so much more to do with this character. Now, execs at Sony have talked about another trilogy...and I really want that. I love Spider-Man to death and I think that the MCU version of him is basically flawless. I need more of him. I'd be absolutely fine with Miles Morales being introduced, but this cannot be the final Tom Holland Spider-Man movie. It just can't.
The After-Credits (NO SPOILERS, I PROMISE!!!)
There are two after-credits scenes. The first one is a funny little thing that also does imply some things for the future. I don't think the set up for those after-credits are done particularly well, and I hope they explain them as well, but it was a very fun little segment that I enjoyed.
However, the second after-credits are huge. It's a different type of after-credits sequence than the MCU tends to do, but when you realize what's going on, you will get very excited. When my theater realized what was happening, we went insane.
I will have a breakdown on both of these sequences later today. Only read that if you have seen Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Should you see Spider-Man: No Way Home?
I mean, is that even a question?
Spider-Man: No Way Home is a satisfying conclusion not only to Tom Holland's run as Spider-Man, but all other previous Spider-Man films. It's an absolute event of a movie that will have you grinning from ear to ear the whole time.
I'm going Sweet. Age range is 10+.
Remember to come back this weekend for my ranking of the Spider-Man movies and villains! Then, on Monday, I will be posting a spoiler review of No Way Home for those of you who have seen it and want my fuller, more in-depth thoughts on the movie.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)
"Spider-Man: No Way Home"
Fun Factor: 10/10
Directed by Jon Watts
Rated PG-13 for superhero violence and action, minor language, disturbing themes and images
Released on December 17, 2021
2 hours and 28 minutes
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Zendaya as Michelle "MJ" Jones-Watson
Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds
Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Stephen Strange
Alfred Molina as Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus
Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin
Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon/Electro
Marisa Tomei as May Parker
Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan
Rhys Ifans as Curt Connors/Lizard
Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko/Sandman
Benedict Wong as Wong
J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson
Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson