Movie review: “Spider-Man: No Way Home”
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” was the No. 1 movie when it opened. Let me rephrase that – “Spider-Man: No Way Home” became the No. 1 movie of 2021 during its opening weekend, December 17-19, when it grossed around 253 million. dollars at the domestic box office. As if that weren’t enough, the film was the most immersive theatrical experience I’ve had in years, with audiences cheering and screaming at every turn.
When we last saw Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man (Tom Holland), his secret identity was revealed by presenter J. Jonah Jameson (JK Simmons). Thanks to a very good lawyer, no criminal charges can be brought for the alleged wrongdoings of the last film, but there are still consequences. For example, Peter and his friends MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) are rejected from MIT for their role in the controversy. But then Peter remembers that he has friends who can pull strings with all the upheaval in his life.
He goes to Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and asks him to perform a spell that can make people forget he’s Spider-Man. Strange agrees, but Peter tries to get him to change the spell midway through, which messes things up. Things go so awry that a hole is torn in the universe, and Spider-Man’s adversaries are brought in from other dimensions. Thus, Peter must face Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Dr. Octopus (Alfred Molina), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), Lizard (Rhys Ifans) and Electro (Jamie Foxx). Strange can send the villains back to their own dimensions, which will kill them, but Peter’s Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) tells Peter he owes it to them to try to cure them of whatever makes them evil. After all, it was the Great Power that brought them into this world.
It’s a ball to see Peter interact with the five returning characters. Not all are mad at the idea of being “cured,” but they accept it as opposed to the immediate death that Strange would bring. Fortunately, most of their origins come from laboratory accidents that can be countered by science. However, the situation quickly spirals out of control. Peter needs help, and it’s a poorly kept secret at this point that the multiverse provides. And that’s where the fun interactions really begin.
The film’s greatest strength is its humor, especially with the banter between the three-dimensional characters (although the bits with Ned and Peter’s fellow classmates and teachers don’t add much). I’ve heard other reviewers complain that these scenes are too long, but they never went out of style for me. I could even say the movie could use more of it, because I couldn’t get enough.
Negatives include fairly standard MCU action (apart from a cool kaleidoscope-y Doctor Strange sequence), a failure to commit to a twist in the third act, and a need to see 20 years of Spider-Man movies for this movie to make sense. I told my mom I loved the movie, but was saddened when I realized she would be lost if she saw it for herself. Plus, and it’s a nitpick, but there’s too much suspense surrounding the characters opening college response letters when the envelopes are thin. It may depend on the school, but I understand that acceptance letters traditionally come with a package, like mine.
Cracks appear if you think about it, but like most MCUs, it’s incredibly easy to ignore the cracks, because there’s something thrilling around every corner. And if you see it soon enough, it will be with such a large crowd that your hearts will beat in unison.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” isn’t quite the best movie of the year, but it’s probably going to be the best movie time you’ll have all year.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is rated PG-13 for action/violence sequences, language, and brief suggestive commentary. Its operating time is 148 minutes.
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