Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) Review
PERHAPS the most ambitious Marvel feature to date, discounting Endgame, No Way Home feels like an event rather than a movie. Jon Watts takes audiences on a rollercoaster of a ride, kicking things off in grand fashion before building up to an, albeit, predictable conclusion, all while unforeseen twists and turns are thrown in throughout to keep viewers emotionally and enthusiastically on the edge of their seats.
No Way Home wastes little time, immediately following the events of Far From Home as Spider-Man's (Tom Holland) secret identity has been revealed, causing mass hysteria on a global scale after being labelled a murderous vigilante. But with the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Peter pleads with Strange to erase everybody's memories that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, which naturally goes awry, causing villains from alternate universes such as Norman Osborn (Willem DaFoe) and Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) to wreak havoc on the entire multi-verse; threats that only Spider-Man can stop.
This movie shouldn't work, and in many ways, it doesn't. But as previously mentioned, this isn't a movie - it's an event. Fan excitement was off the charts for the final chapter in Tom Holland's Spider-Man trilogy, and although some were expecting this film to flop like another certain third Spider-Man instalment, director Jon Watts proved that he could provide fans a love letter, serving as an affectionate time capsule featuring Spider-Man's past, present, before getting a glimpse into what will become his future.
Perhaps the worst kept secret of the year was that No Way Home would see the return of fan-favourite villains from both the Sam Raimi and Amazing Spider-Man universes, majority of which provide meaningful performances and excel in their nefarious demeanours. DaFoe, Foxx and Molina all feel in character and give it their all as they feel honoured to return to their iconic comic roles, especially DaFoe who is the star of the show, stealing any scene The Green Goblin features in as you can see his back-and-forth transition from a scared shell of a man to a psychotic murderer bent on destroying Peter by any means necessary. Not all returning villains were given equal treatment as Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and The Lizard (Rhys Ifans) weren't needed on set, with most of their scenes being digitally-altered from their previous films, which brings me to one of the film's most glaring problems - special effects.
When I say I have a problem with the special effects, I'm not saying that the action wasn't good; it couldn't be the furthest thing from it. Most of the action in No Way Home feels impactful; every web-sling and magic spell was a joy to watch and immerse yourself in. Sadly, this immersion was lost during high profile moments in the movie, particularly those having to do with the multiverse. Green screened effects are blatantly obvious to their most basic cores and the CGI used in scenes involving Sandman and Lizard are too saturated by real-life implications that it's hard not to criticise what would otherwise be a simple overlook.
But in the end, none of this should matter as while this isn't the best Spider-Man film (that honour going to Into The Spider-Verse), No Way Home is easily the best in the Tom Holland trilogy, loaded with enough moments of heartbreak and hilarity needed for a worthy end to what has been a divisive set of superhero films. Story elements involving the multiverse does open up a can of plot holes, especially since it was handled with better care in Spider-Verse, and the inclusion of villains and references to the older films does feel self-congratulatory and ham-fisted, but if you're a fan of Marvel and superhero movies in general, No Way Home mixes the best - and worst - of Spider-Man into an event that should only be experienced on the big screen - especially considering that multiple re-viewings will dampen its quality overtime.