‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Review: An Emotional, Unsteady Sequel

Surprises abound as Peter Parker tries to make sense of his place in the universe(s) in this often intriguing, and sometimes confusing, part.

There’s no doubt that diving deep into the psyche of superheroes can make some dark discoveries (hell, Batman has turned that into a signature move over the course of so many movie and TV series franchises, and that’s just one faint-eared man), but Marvel’s treatment has added Cinematic Universe The state of the soul of a young Spider-Man (Tom Holland) constantly new dimension to an ever-expanding franchise. Spidey has always been a sentimental guy—basic autobiographical crumbs like “He’s just a teenager when that damn spider bites him” and “orphan” help with that on the side of ease—but the charismatic, wide-eyed Dutch superhero has spent a number of movies out in the wild working within The human. Being a superhero is both challenging and fun, and few MCU heroes have masterfully managed that balance in the midst of world-destroying action sequences.

Not so with Peter Parker. The most believable Spidey on screen—and that’s not to say that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield didn’t bring their own sauce to their individual Spider-Man franchises, cough—Holland’s webslinger experience has always felt like the most human, the most realistic, “Oh my God, I’m a superhero!” A copy of this beloved character. Which also means we’ve seen this Peter Parker in some pretty tough situations — his relationship with Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man is one of the most endearing things to ever come into the MCU, and its ending was clearly ripped in tears — and that we’re inevitably going to end up in some deep and dark places.

And that’s not where the sick, emotional, and sometimes unstable Jon Watts’ “Spider-Man: No Way Home” begins. The third film in the series moves right after 2019’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” and finds Holland in his grinning smile at Peter Parker: in love with a girl (Zendaya, who constantly steals the scene as the sardonic MJ). Yes, yes, yes, Far From Home may have ended with the death of the secret villain (Jake Gyllenhaal, featured in the flashback footage) and forced Peter to really begin to struggle with his place in the world, but it also ended up with Peter and MJ together and frankly completely with each other. What can go wrong now that the girl he likes knows who he is?

what about all Globalism Do you know who he is? As hinted at at the end of “Far From Home,” Peter’s identity is revealed almost immediately at the beginning of “No Way Home” — big thanks to returning franchise star JK Simmons, who brings new life to a very recent incarnation of loud-mouthed journalist Jonah Jameson. , who last played him in the Tobey Maguire films starring Spidey – turning his entire existence upside down in the process. However, Watts somehow manages to keep this revelation light, as Peter, MJ, Ned (Jacob Batalon), Aunt May (Marissa Tomei), and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) get together to keep Peter alive, well, kind of ordinary . There’s even a scene where he goes back to high school in his senior year, focusing early on ensuring the Midtown High trio get into college. (College! Bets College! In a superhero movie!)

For far too long, the fate of the entire universe hung in the balance during the many Marvel movie tours, and while “No Way Home” goes even further. multiverse And with the possibility that the “fabric of reality” will be torn forever, there’s still something a little magical about this movie. that it Personal, and that’s a theme and idea that gets pushed home only as the movie kicks off with its first chapter, starts to slow in its second, and gets everything completely off by its appearance in the last forty minutes.

Rumors about not only the content, but the actual spit From the movie abounded long ago, and while we’re not confirming or denying anything here, suffice it to say that the movie is packed with both familiar faces and surprising extras. However, the real trick is that even the parts that, in less movie, might look like a stunt here are in real service of the story. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has seldom refrained from throwing a winking cameo whenever the opportunity presents itself, but “No Way Home” is the rare MCU movie to make it so valuable, and anchor it directly into the story at hand.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home”

So, back in college: Peter is horrified to find out that his newly ousted superhero character is too much of a burden, especially J. Jonah Jameson, the internet-talking head who spits out (unfortunately) many real-world parallels, is bent on making people believe That Spidey is the bad guy. All this interest isn’t too great for a trio of intellectuals who want to get into MIT, and when Peter, MJ, and Ned are outright rejected because of their Spidey personalities, Peter comes up with a genius plan: just have Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) cast some sort of The spell is to make people forget that he is Spider-Man.

But Peter is still really a kid, impulsive about it, and even when he makes the wizard agree to the wish, he aligns him at the last minute (wait, did he say he wanted Everyone to forget? No no Everyone!) screw badly with the incantation so that everything should be closed. But magic is a strange thing, and so is the multiverse, and the charismatic force concocted by Doctor Strange works itself out in strange and (sorry) new ways. Let’s put it this way: Even shortening the spell, and making sure no one forgets that Peter is Spider-Man, its reach is wide enough to cast a special class of people, the kind of people who know a few things as well as know that Peter is Spider-Man .

Peter’s world is quickly flooded with new friends and foes, including a few that have long been hinted at in marketing and interviews (hey, Jamie Foxx and Alfred Molina, reprising roles as iconic villains from the other Spider-Man series), and a few pleasant surprises. And while this franchise-spanning mix is ​​what has kept many fans excited about what “No Way Home” might hold, things start to falter a bit when Peter and his cohorts attempt to stir up controversy among the many (ManyThe villains need him and his comrades to battle. The script for Chris McKenna and Eric Summers spends a great deal of time pondering the machinations of people and plans we already know, throwing some embarrassing misdirections and simply delaying the inevitable. The speed oscillates, and that wonderful lightness that unfolds from the film quickly oscillates between something still more ridiculous and the kind of deep desperation that this particular Peter experienced.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home”

Likewise, the film’s many combat sequences truncate the entirety, beginning with a planned battle in the impressive broad daylight and a brief journey through the Mirror Universe with Doctor Strange outsmarting the Matrix as The Matrix, before immersing themselves in a series of chaotic battles. – Many are set at night – which is nice and dark, even when Foxx’s Electro is there to literally light up the place. At least it all leads to the movie’s final act, a really fun (and often funny, wise and emotional) roundup that will delight fans, new and old, with the diverse adventures of the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. In a way both self-reflexive (at times, even self-irony) and killer seriousness, these last sections combine much of what makes Spider-Man special, across movies, times, places and even universes.

It also lays the groundwork for more adventures to come, even if the past itself will look very different by the time the credits roll. The Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t always ready to have it really Risky—particularly in standalone features that will undoubtedly influence the rest of the roster—but “No Way Home” isn’t afraid to take on an entirely new challenge, truly focusing on the past, and hope for a new future worth striving for. The road to “No Way Home”‘s closing moments — tenderness and sadness — may have bumped into a few bumps, but the darkness is worth it. After all, when was the last time the third movie in a series really excited audiences for what was to come next? There may be no way back home, but Holland, Watts and their comrades make an argument for something else, something better.

B-grade

Sony will release “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in theaters on Friday, December 17th.

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