One of the best of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” jogged my memory why I used to like comedian books, particularly those a few boy named Peter Parker. There was a playful unpredictability to them that has typically felt was missing from trendy superhero films in the way in which they really feel so exactly calculated. Sure, in fact, “No Way Home” is extremely calculated, a approach to make extra headlines after killing off so a lot of its occasion characters in Section 3, but it surely’s additionally a movie that’s typically bursting with inventive pleasure.
Director Jon Watts and his crew have delivered a real occasion film, a double-sized crossover concern of a comic book e-book that the younger me would have waited in line to learn first, excitedly turning each web page with breathless anticipation of the subsequent twist and switch. And but they typically keep away from getting weighed down by the expectations followers have for this movie, one way or the other sidestepping the cluttered traps of different crowded half threes. “No Way Home” is crowded, but it surely’s additionally surprisingly spry, ingenious, and simply purely entertaining, resulting in a last act that not solely earns its feelings however pays off among the ones you could have about this character that you just forgot.
Observe: I’ll very rigorously keep away from spoilers however keep offline till you see it as a result of there are going to be landmines on social media.
“No Way Home” picks up instantly after the tip of “Spider-Man: Far From Residence,” with the sound of that movie’s closing scene enjoying over the Marvel emblem. Mysterio has revealed the identification of the person within the pink tights, which implies nothing will ever be the identical for Peter Parker (Tom Holland). With an virtually slapstick power, “No Way Home” opens with a collection of scenes concerning the pitfalls of super-fame, significantly the way it impacts Peter’s girlfriend M.J. (Zendaya) and greatest bud Ned (Jacob Batalon). It reaches a peak when M.I.T. denies all three of them admission, citing the controversy about Peter’s identification and the roles his buddies performed in his super-adventures.
Peter has a plan. The “wizard” he met when he saved half the inhabitants with The Avengers can forged a spell and make all of it go away. So he asks Dr. Unusual (Benedict Cumberbatch) to make the world neglect that Spider-Man is Peter Parker, which, in fact, instantly backfires. He doesn’t need M.J. or Ned or Aunt Could (Marisa Tomei) to neglect every part they’ve been by way of collectively, and so the spell will get derailed in the course of it. Unusual barely will get it beneath management. After which Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) and the Inexperienced Goblin (Willem Dafoe) present up.
Because the previews have revealed, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” weaves characters and mythology from the opposite cinematic iterations of this character into the universe of the present one, however I’m joyful to report that it’s greater than a casting gimmick. My concern getting into was that this is able to merely be a case of “Batman Forever” and even “Spider-Man 3,” the place extra was typically the enemy of fine. It’s not. The villains that return from the Sam Raimi and Marc Webb movies don’t overcrowd the narrative as a lot as they converse to a theme that emerges within the movie that ties this complete collection again to the opposite ones. For a technology, the road about Spidey was “With nice energy comes nice accountability.” “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is concerning the trendy Peter Parker studying what which means. (It additionally helps a nice deal to have actors like Molina and Dafoe in villain roles once more given how the dearth of memorable villains has been an issue within the MCU.)
So many trendy superhero films have confronted what it means to be a superhero, however that is the primary time it’s actually been foregrounded within the present run of Peter Parker, which turns “No Way Home” into one thing of a commencement story. It’s the one through which Parker has to develop up and cope with not simply the celebrity that comes with Spider-Man however how his choices may have extra impression than most youngsters planning to go to school. It asks some fascinating questions on empathy as Peter is put able to mainly attempt to save the boys who tried to kill different multiverse iterations of him. And it playfully turns into a commentary on correcting errors of the previous not simply within the lifetime of Holland’s Parker however these of characters (and even filmmakers) made lengthy earlier than he stepped into the position. “No manner Residence” is concerning the weight of heroic choices. Even the suitable ones imply you could not be capable to go residence once more.
Watts hasn’t gotten sufficient credit score in his different two Spider-Man films for his motion and “No Way Home” ought to right that. There are two main sequences—a stunner in a mirror dimension through which Spidey fights Unusual, and the climactic one—but it surely’s additionally stuffed with expertly rendered minor motion beats all through. There’s a fluidity to the motion right here that’s underrated as Mauro Fiore’s digicam swoops and dives with Spider-Man. And the massive last showdown doesn’t succumb to the widespread over-done hollowness of MCU climaxes as a result of it has simple emotional weight. I additionally need to word that Michael Giacchino’s rating right here is among the greatest within the MCU, by far. It’s one of many solely themes in all the cinematic universe that feels heroic.
With a lot to like about “No Way Home,” the one disgrace is that it’s not a bit extra tightly introduced. There’s no purpose for this film to be 148 minutes, particularly given how a lot the primary half has a behavior of repeating its themes and plot factors. Watts (and the MCU basically) has a behavior of over-explaining issues and there’s a sharper model of “No Way Home” that trusts its viewers a bit extra, permitting them to unpack the themes that these characters have a behavior of explicitly stating. And, no offense to Batalon, turning Ned into a serious character baffles me a bit. He all the time seems like a distraction from what actually works right here. However, that is the primary of those three movies which have allowed Zendaya and Holland’s chemistry to shine. Specifically, she nails the emotional last beats of her character in a manner that provides weight to a movie that may really feel a bit ethereal when it comes to efficiency.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” might have simply been the best hits, a approach to pull completely different tasks into the identical IP simply because the producers can. Some will see it that manner simply on premise alone, however there’s extra occurring right here than the previews would have you ever consider. It’s about what historic heroes and villains imply to us within the first place—why we care a lot and what we think about a victory over evil. Greater than any film within the MCU that I can bear in mind, it made me need to dig out my previous field of Spider-Man comedian books. That’s a heroic accomplishment.