This review does not contain spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home outside of what was shown in trailers and marketing prior to release.
As someone who grew up watching Tobey Maguire swinging around New York City, Spider-Man means the world to me. Peter Parker is the embodiment of the everyman when it comes to superheroes. He struggles like everyone else does, whether it’s with rent, relationships, personal responsibility or trauma. Those everyday struggles have been absent from Tom Holland’s rendition of iconic web-slinger, until now.
Spider-Man: No Way Home picks up immediately after Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) identity is revealed at the end of the previous film. With Peter a newly-minted celebrity, his life changes forever. He’s facing the police for Mysterio’s death, facing the massively divided public daily and facing his friends and family whose lives have been forever altered for the worse just because of their association with him.
Because of this, he seeks out the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to make people forget his identity. When Peter accidentally ruins Strange’s spell of forgetfulness, multiple universes’ villains come spilling into his world, leaving Peter to clean up the mess.
This is the film where Tom Holland truly becomes Spider-Man. Before, he was a solid rendition of the character, but now he is the character. His performance in this film is absolutely phenomenal; he’s asked to do so much emotionally, across the entire spectrum, throughout the film’s two and a half hour runtime and he kills it.
This is the best portrayal of Peter Parker outside of the comics. Maguire and Andrew Garfield don’t even come close, no matter how much it pains me to say that. He makes the transition from dependent hero to independent hero in a massively satisfying — and long overdue — way.
Holland isn’t the only standout of the film, Willem Dafoe’s return to the character of Norman Osborn, AKA Green Goblin, is perfect. Dafoe takes every opportunity to chew the scenery and go well over the top, much like he did nearly twenty years ago in Spider-Man, and it somehow never comes off as ridiculous or silly.
I just wish the director, Jon Watts, would’ve focused more on him during those scenes than cutting to angles focusing on less interesting things. He’s one of the best comic book movie villains of all time and is now one of the best MCU villains of all time.
Also, he and the other returning villains are far from being cameos, like many feared they would be. They have character arcs, real motivations and a sizable amount of screen time across the board. Their performances are also all fantastic, from Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) to Electro (Jamie Foxx).
This film is very much the culmination of every “Spider-Man” film from the past twenty years, not just Tom Holland’s MCU trilogy. There’s so much that happens in this film that it’s mind-boggling. Thinking back on it, most of it feels surreal.
Despite having to carry the baggage of twenty years of films, it’s the best live-action “Spider-Man” film and one of the best MCU films ever. It’s easily top-three in terms of the MCU, and may even take the top spot for many.
This is just a great film from start to finish. It never feels too rushed, too slow or too long. The pacing is perfect, there’s never any point where it drags despite its objectively long runtime. Yes, there’s lots of fanservice, but it never feels like it’s shoehorned in. It all just fits into this massive and jam-packed film.
Fans will cry (probably multiple times), from both excitement and sadness. This is an extremely fun film to watch, but it’s also the darkest “Spider-Man” story ever told on screen. It’s brutal, heartwarming, funny and emotionally devastating. It just has everything you could ever ask for from a Spider-Man film and more.
By the end, it made me more excited for whatever comes next for this version of the webslinger than I ever was for this film or any other “Spider-Man” film before. It’s truly impressive how much Watts and writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers are able to accomplish by the end of this film. It’s a true journey, ending the first chapter of Tom Holland’s story in spectacular fashion while ushering in the massively exciting next chapter.
This is a film that will be discussed by fans and film lovers for years to come. It’s a love letter to the fans sound tracked by an amazing score from Michael Giacchino. It makes every hype-filled moment and every heartbreaking character moment hit even harder than they already did. Giacchino is one of the most in-demand composers in Hollywood and he shows why in every film he scores, but, in particular, this film’s score is something special.
There’s so much more to talk about with this film that I just can’t get into without massively spoiling its best surprises and moments, so I won’t. Spider-Man: No Way Home is a must-see on the big screen for everyone, both casual audiences and mega-fans alike. It’s an absolute blast from start to finish and there isn’t much it could’ve done better.
Sure, I wish Benedict Cumberbatch was in it more and that the camera really focused on Dafoe’s performance, but these are minor nitpicks on an otherwise near spotlessly entertaining time at the movies. It’s the first film I’ve seen since Avengers: Endgame that I wanted to watch again as soon as it was over; check it out as soon as you can.