Spider-Man: No Way Home Review – Riding the Nostalgia Train

Tom Holland and Alfred Molina in Spider-Man: No Way Home. © 2021 Sony Pictures Releasing

Spider-Man: No Way Home picks up immediately after the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) has revealed to the world through J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) that Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is Spider-Man. The world is torn in thinking that Peter is either still a hero or behind the drone attacks on London like Beck stated before his death.

Spider-Man holds on to MJ (Zendaya) in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

Peter is now in a relationship with MJ (Zendaya) while Ned (Jacob Batalon) tags along as the third wheel more than the guy in the chair. As the three attempt to get into MIT and other colleges, MJ and Ned are punished for being associated with Peter.

Feeling guilty, Peter takes it upon himself to contact Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who eventually agrees to perform a spell that would make everyone forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. However, Peter’s motor mouth and constant need to change Strange’s spell botches it and ends up opening the multiverse. 

Early on, the humor in Spider-Man: No Way Home is lacking and a little lame. Much of the film rides on Peter’s relationship with MJ.

Peter, MJ, and Ned have become inseparable in the film thanks to the events of Homecoming, Far From Home, Infinity War, and Endgame. Nearly everything boils down to them making decisions as a trio even when Peter is out there as Spider-Man.

The humor in the film doesn’t really find its footing until the villains come along and even then it starts off pretty rough (making fun of the Otto Octavius’ name in the trailer is a prime example).

Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) and Spider-Man battle it out in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

Peter’s solution to all of these villains invading his universe from their own is pure stupidity. The desire to do what’s best for someone’s well being is there and you understand why Peter is so adamant about going in the direction that he does.

However, he has the opportunity to end all of this early on with little to no repercussions other than some structural damage that he is able to repair in one night.

Tom Holland stars as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Doctor Strange in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

Peter chooses to change the fate of these villains with the best intentions and suffers for it. In a way, it’s inevitable as it factors in to and is motivation for who Peter Parker and Spider-Man are as essentially one heroic character.

“It’s what they do,” as they say several times in the film. That doesn’t mean you have to swallow it as something as supposed genius and one of Marvel’s smartest minds would conjure up though.

Spider-Man hanging on in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

Next to the surprises the film has in store for first time viewers, the villains are arguably the highlight of the film. Peter’s fight with Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) on the bridge is nearly on par with the Spider-Man/Doc Ock fight on the train from Spider-Man 2.

Willem Dafoe is also still Spider-Man’s greatest and most sinister adversary as Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin two decades later.

Alfred Molina as Doc Ock in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

Dafoe’s one stipulation for returning to the franchise was that he would be allowed to do all of his own stunts even at 66 years old; he believes it all factors in to his performance and it shows.

You feel sympathy for Norman and admire his brilliance, but he’s plagued with this gushingly nefarious and uncontrollable alternate personality. With that reverberating laugh and amazing facial expressions, Dafoe literally steals the film every time he’s on screen.

Green Goblin from Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

The bickering in the film results in some of the most entertaining sequences in the film. There’s at least two instances, one between all of the villains when they’re all in the same room and another sequence later that occurs right before the big fight scene between Spider-Man and the five villains that have crossed over, that are just incredible and it’s basically just dialogue.

Screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers deserve a lot of the credit. If it wasn’t for their writing then those back-and-forth dialogue exchanges between characters wouldn’t exist.

But the performances from the cast also factor in to how great those sequences are. Much of the older returning cast have joked about only returning for the money, but it’s clear that there was some enjoyment of not only the script but also being able to work with such a talented group of people.

Electro, Sandman and Lizard from SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

Speaking of trains, the Spider-Man/Doctor Strange battle in the mirror dimension is one of No Way Home’s visual treats. Doctor Strange and his magical origins opened up the cosmic aspect for the MCU, which has always resulted in trippy and otherworldly sequences that are tonally different and unlike anything else from the other Marvel films.

Seeing Spider-Man swing around as the world is upside down while dodging kaleidoscopic skyscrapers and barely escaping gravity defying portals results in a sequence especially memorable for MCU fans.

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Doctor Strange and Tom Holland stars as Spider-Man/Peter Parker in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

The Verdict

Spider-Man: No Way Home isn’t without its flaws, but it is mostly exactly what it’s advertised to be. The film doesn’t necessarily redefine the, “With great power comes great responsibility,” aspect for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, but it without a doubt gives the MCU version of Spider-Man his version of that principle.

No Way Home is a nostalgic extravaganza that exceeds expectations and is a perfect and satisfying bookend for the first three Tom Holland Spider-Man movies.

Mentioned This Article:

More About: