Movie Review: Spider-Man No Way Home
Rating: 2 and 1/2 Stars
Here we go, another blockbuster smash from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Scorcese doth protest. While I disagree with Scorcese’s interpretation of the definition of cinema, I do understand the value of his sentiment. Scorcese said it himself, this style of filmmaking and storytelling isn’t for him.
Some people don’t like Chic-Fil-A and for that, we look at them weird. But the sandwich tastes so good! And the sauces! The waffle fries! And the employees that are mandated to say ‘my pleasure’ (depending on how uptight your local store is). Marvel is the Chic-Fil-A of the movie industry and they make a lot of chicken sandwiches.
But at the end of the day, you’re still ordering a chicken sandwich. No Way Home came with the pickles still on it when I ordered no pickles. The fries also were slightly undercooked…
Fast food analogies behind us, Spiderman: No Way Home is a hilariously flawed yet ambitiously fun piece of cinema spectacle. If you can forgive segments of canned dialogue, a Saturday morning cartoon plot, and friendship serum healing MacGuffins, you’ll have a good time.
The less serious No Way Home is, the better the movie flows in its writing and action. But of course, there has to be high stakes and drama and prolonged shots on a character’s face as they stare off-screen for 30-seconds. I was reminded of one of the few funny bits in Deadpool 2 where a character refuses to die for like 3 minutes.
No Way Home is rooted in the exploration of the Spider-Man character over the last two decades. If you’ve kept up with the series even, you’ll find it to be a touching tribute.
In the wrong hands this is shameless corporate marketing, but this is one of Marvel’s most important advantages in their movie-making enterprise. I almost always get the sense that those writing and developing Marvel films genuinely care and meticulously craft their superhero melodramas with love. Sure, No Way Home isn’t going to challenge our perceptions like the works of a Tarantino, a Nolan, or Scorcese, but they give their films the same energy.
A spoiler warning for those that trek beyond because as I said before, previous Spider-Man films are referenced heavily in No Way Home.
Jake Gyllenhaal reveals Spider-Man’s identity at the end of the second film that I have still yet to watch. Peter Parker’s life basically turns into what Tom Holland’s actual life probably feels like and the same happens for his girlfriend MJ (Zendaya).
JK Simmons plays J. Jonah Jameson as Alex Jones with the popularity of Tucker Carlson whose only mission is to complain about Spider-Man. This is a swinging strikeout by the writers as there’s no originality. “Have a laugh at the cable news host guy that says ridiculous things.” JK Simmons won’t complain about the check, at least I imagine he wouldn’t, but it’s a role that actually could’ve given the film an extra dimension (pun intended) with better writing.
Peter Parker is part enemy of the state part beloved neighborhood friendly superhero so public opinion on him is split. It’s referenced he launched a drone strike. I thought our government does that all the time? Anyways. The consequences: Peter, MJ, and their friend Ned can’t get into MIT. What a shame.
Parker calls up his friend Doctor Strange to convince most of the world to forget that he’s Spider-Man. Strange finds this proposal ridiculous for a minute before saying, ah screw it, let’s try it. Parker messes up the spell, Strange tries to undo it, but they fight in Strange’s Inception-land where Parker bests Strange in a battle for the magic thinga-ma-jig. If there’s any scene that will be played on YouTube 500-million times, it’ll be Spider-Man versus Doctor Strange. It’s a well-done visual nightmare.
Strange’s spell was reversed so that anyone who has ever known Peter Parker can enter their dimensional reality. Enter a whole host of Spider-Man’s past villains from the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield era. Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Sandman, Electro, a crocodile guy?
Parker is tasked with sending his past villains who are confused with the Tom Holland casting because they remember Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield as their Spider-Man, back to their universes. As ridiculous as it sounds, it is fun to see a cast of odd villains attempt to negotiate with the idea that they are in a separate universe.
Parker decides to spare the villains when his Aunt May convinces him, bringing about the moral quandary of attempting to change someone’s fate. This is where the friendship healing serum MacGuffins enter the picture. In fairness, it’s a much more tidy solution than going through a five-hour therapy session with each villain. For pacing purposes, it’s a sensible option.
Spider-Man: No Way Home was a lofty concept of a film but director Jon Watts and company got to their intended destination. There was a lot of weight and baggage to carry that makes the film especially turbulent as it drives to push the narrative ahead, but there’s a lot of fun and a few laughs to be had along the way.