Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Tom Holland swings into action once again as Spider-Man and this time he’s not alone. Don’t worry; I won’t be giving away any major spoilers here but if you’ve been following Marvel’s run on the small screen, with shows like WandaVision and What If…? you’re sure to know the multiverse is in full swing in the MCU and so fans know to expect the not-so unexpected.
There’s a line of dialogue in the movie courtesy MJ (Zendaya) who states, “You should expect to be disappointed, that way you’re never disappointed.” It makes me wonder if the writers of No Way Home, the third film in the Sony/MCU Spider-Man films, were worried fans’ hopes would be set so high they might not like what they saw. While I wouldn’t call myself the biggest Spidey fan, I have enjoyed the previous two films to varying degrees. And after seeing this third one I think they got more right than wrong.
Tom Holland might not be your personal favourite but he once again proves he’s one of the best actors to wear the iconic Spidey suit. The film is set after the events of Far From Home where Mysterio exposed Peter Parker’s secret identity and in doing so has made life very difficult for those closest to him.
Worried that things will only get worse Peter goes to Dr Strange (close friends get to call him Stephen) and the always charming and acerbic Doctor agrees to enact a spell that will make everyone forget Peter is Spider-Man. Things go screwy (magic is never not complicated) and instead the multiverse comes into play as villains from different universes who all have a bone to pick with our friendly neighborhood web-swinger target Spider-Man….just not THEIR Spider-Man.
Introducing the multiverse not only opens up the potential for a lot of storylines but it can also cause a lot of damage, and dare I say, fatigue, if it isn’t handled well. But for the most part No Way Home does a brilliant job of balancing the fan service with genuinely good storytelling. I went into this very worried that we might be seeing the errors of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 repeating all over again. But director Jon Watts and his writing team Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers balances both the reasons and the emotions that comes with introducing so many new characters well.
In fact of the three Holland films, I think this one packs the most emotional punches. To say more would spoil things for those who haven’t seen it yet, so I’ll just say most of the actors portray their characters (and the experiences they’ve gone through) in ways that felt natural and it all beautifully meshes together for an emotionally impactful ride.
It’s Marvel so it goes without saying the action set pieces are spectacular. I saw this in IMAX 4DX and with at least four major action sequences there was a ton of cool stuff to choose from. My favourites were the one with Doctor Strange and Spidey going at it and the final action sequence that brought us to our conclusion. I also loved the final scene of Spidey swinging through the city. So many Spidey suits to choose from here but funny enough it’s the “classic” look in the end that really appealed to me.
So what if any problems did I have with outing numero tres? Well there’s a few of them. With any movie that contains so many people there are bound to be those who don’t get to add much to the experience. For me it was the inclusion of Electro, The Lizard and Sandman. Don’t get me wrong, I understand WHY they were added here and why not having them would’ve been a bit problematic considering what they were trying to achieve story-wise, but that doesn’t change the fact each of these villains have little to no further character development and were only there to help “hold the table up” so to speak.
That said it was genuinely great to see Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina back as the Green Goblin and Doc Ock respectively. Their moments are the best villain moments of the movie with each managing to deliver scenes that felt genuine to their character counterparts.
Some of the humour fell flat too. They would do this weird long pause sometimes after a joke, like they were waiting for the audience to “get it”, and I’m just sitting there like, “Can we just move things along please!” It happened way too much for my liking and took some of the energy away from the pacing.
There’s one more thing that was bothering me here and that’s the depiction of Doctor Strange. Maybe it’s just me but then again even my friend who was with me and who isn’t the biggest Marvel fan thought he was being a bit callous and at one point she wondered aloud if he was under some sort of mind control. For those who have seen the What If? episodes we know there’s a version of Strange that goes…(NO SPOILERS!). But my friend hasn’t seen the show so for her to point this out speaks volumes about how out of character it was for someone who had been through what we’ve seen him go through to act the way he does in this movie.
Pretend you don’t know him from the comics or you haven’t seen the television series and you can see why this feels more like Marvel trying to have their cake and eat it too by foreshadowing their future movie project In the Multiverse of Madness instead of focusing on the story they’re supposed to be telling in No Way Home. Maybe I’m nitpicking but all I’ll say is every Spider-Man film that made this mistake in the past failed, so here’s hoping the MCU’s reach doesn’t extend beyond their grasp.
Sorry if I went a bit off-course there. No Way Home does a lot right. From the memorable visuals to the deeply impactful emotional beats that shows Batman isn’t the only superhero with a ton of angst in his story. It stumbles for the first act, some of the humour felt awkward, the use of so many villains doesn’t pull together as smoothly as hoped, but as a whole it’s a damn fine movie that in my opinion would make for a solid stopping point if Tom Holland was exiting the role (he’s signed on for three more). It may not be my personal favourite of his three runs but it’s definitely the best trilogy of Spider-Man films we have to date.
Sommer’s Score: 7.5 out of 10
So how would you rate No Way Home? And you can check out more amazing MCU content below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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