Film: Spiderman: No Way Home
Running Time: 148 Minutes
Age Rating: 12A
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau,
Director: Jon Watts
The third in the current MCU Spiderman trilogy, and the sixth outing for Tom Holland as the swinging superhero, No Way Home picks up immediately where the previous installment (Far From Home) left off and sees Peter Parker have to deal with being publicly outed as Spiderman and how this affects those closest to him.
Straight away, reviewing this film is going to be immensely difficult if I want to avoid any sort of spoiler. It’s the first time ever I’ve had to be choosy about naming the cast of a film, lest I give away a plot point by giving away who is in the film and who isn’t. As a huge Marvel fan, I can’t remember a more highly anticipated film since Avengers: Endgame, the film that incidentally went on to be the most successful film of all time. Months of rumours, endless speculation, denials of castings, and the most wild suggested plot lines have all lead us to here. And now I have to review a film with groundbreaking moments, incredible third act twists and plot points that will mean the MCU is never the same again.
And I can’t mention any of them. So, here goes.
When I said in the description that the film picks up immediately where “Far From Home” left off, I wasn’t joking. Even showing the dying seconds of the previous outing, “No Way Home” throws into the deep end of Peter Parker’s life, completely turned upside down by his new given fame and indeed infamy as being outed as Spiderman. What initially starts out as a focus on a teenage kid about to go to college amongst all the craziness of Spiderman, quickly becomes an interdimensional, high concept sci fi film involving other universes, magic spells and being haunted by enemies long since banished to the vault of Spidermen’s past.
The next part is tricky. In order to truly talk about how I feel about this film, I’m going to make an assumption here that anyone reading this review has at least seen the trailers for No Way Home. If you haven’t and you don’t want to know anything about this film before seeing it, read no further.
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) then enlists the help of fellow avenger Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to help the world forget he ever was Spiderman. This spell goes wrong and brings visitors from different universes into our own, all having some sort of connection to Spiderman. Parker with the help of his friends MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) then has to battle enemies both foreign and domestic in order to restore balance to a now heavily broken universe.
Hopefully that gives you an idea of the narrative if you haven’t seen it, without spoiling any plot points that weren’t widely known before the film’s release. As you may have gathered, this film is juggling a lot of specific superhero balls whilst still trying to appeal to a wide blockbuster audience. And I have to say it absolutely carries it off. Magnificently.
Let’s face it, for a modern MCU film, there’s a lot to balance. They have to be funny, they have to relatable, they have to appeal to the masses whilst still keeping all the hardcore comic fans happy, and still have a good enough story to keep the audience interested throughout. The previous two Spiderman films were both beautifully balanced outings under the helm of Jon Watt. And No Way Home is no exception.
Tom Holland was quoted in the build up to the release that this “Was not a nice Spiderman film”. And he’s right in that this had far more emotional gut punches than I was expecting. I’m generally don’t cry in films and yet I teared up at least three times if not more. The raw emotion on display is truly breathtaking. Whether you’re an MCU fan or not, you can’t help but be sucked into this film. The chemistry and relationship between the main three of Holland, Zendaya and Batalon is mesmerizing, charming and just so full of joy that whenever they’re on screen together you just can’t take your eyes of them.
There are also some truly remarkable performances from some other actors in this film that again I am reluctant to mention by name for fear of spoilers. All I will say is that some characters from Spidermen past who we thought we would never see again are brought back into the fold with such care and love and sensitivity that it had me bursting with nostalgia and delight. Not only do they manage to redeem previously reviled roles but also add a new dimension to characters and at no point does it feel forced or like fan service.
Everything is in perfect sync here. Michael Giacchino provides a brilliantly clever score which adds so much to a film that races through, when looking at it twice is quite a dense plot. This could have so easily been a horrible mess, desperately trying to appeal to fans but not providing a proper story. If you want to see how that would have looked, watch Spiderman 3.
Years ago when I first went to drama school, the best teacher I had always spoke of the three most difficult reactions to get out of an audience. The first being a genuine belly laugh, the second being an authentic tear and the third, and most difficult, being an honest to god gasp of surprise. Spiderman: No Way Home has all three of these in absolute bundles, from start to finish.
An incredibly engaging, emotional and truly remarkable film that manages to pull off something extraordinary that could have so easily been a disaster.
Just go and see it, Marvel fan or not. End of.