Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Please note that there are spoilers in this review!

One of the biggest releases of the year was undoubtedly Spider-Man: No Way Home. Marking the last installment of the latest Spider-Man trilogy, we get to see Tom Holland make another great outing as everybody’s favourite neighbourhood superhero, Spider-Man. The film follows the aftermath of Spider-Man’s identity becoming known to the world following the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home and Peter Parker’s attempt to rectify the situation after his life and the lives of those he loves most including girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) as the trio are rejected from every college they applied for due to Peter’s notoriety. Inspired by previous events within the MCU, Parker seeks help from the reclusive Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to fix the situation but the spell goes awry and the multiverse is opened, bringing in previous villains from other Spider-Man films including Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), Electro (Jamie Foxx) and Lizard (Rhys Ifans). The villains’ inclusion was known from the outset, but there was been a lot of speculation in the lead-up to the film’s release as there were rumours that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield were due to join forces with Holland in order to fight the group which was in fact true and the result is a fantastic battle.

Spider-Man: No Way Home sees Jon Watts returning to direct following his previous efforts on Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home and is written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers. Where some franchises within the Marvel Universe can become inconsistent, especially when the teams behind the camera are changed on a regular basis but it feels that Sony and Marvel have done a great job ensuring that this Spider-Man trilogy is not only consistent, but shows growth and character development in a way that is slow-burning and believable meaning that watching them on release ensures that nothing feels too different from the preceding film while watching the three films together will clearly show Peter’s maturity develop and allowing the audience to see clearly differences between Peter at the start of Spider-Man: Homecoming and the end of Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Tom Holland is just as likeable as ever and in a film littered with even more stars from the Spider-Man universe, he is able to maintain his standing as the leading man with ease and hold his own against Macguire and Garfield’s Parker. What is great about Holland’s performance is that we see a more mature Peter compared to the previous installments while also capturing that glimpse of naivety that teenagers have during times of trouble. It’s a balanced performance that shows Holland capable of presenting us with a protagonist who finds that what is right and what is moral can be conflicting and the results of which can be devastating. His chemistry with Zendaya is also undeniable and the relationship between Peter and MJ feels as though it has grown so much since Spider-Man: Homecoming adding yet another layer to his performance as Peter.

As one of a couple female characters in the film, Zendaya is fantastic as MJ. MJ is not simply identifiable as Peter’s girlfriend but is defined by her intelligence and personality which shines through and the writing and Zendaya’s fearless performance ensure that MJ is an active part of the plan to defeat the villains. Where in the other Spider-Man films (as in Maguire and Garfield’s run), Mary Jane and Gwen were often reduced to the damsel in distress and used as a ploy for villains to get Spider-Man to fight them, MJ is never put in that box and consistently comes up with solutions for Peter to follow, despite not having the powers that he does.

The main event of the film was undoubtedly the return of Maguire and Garfield who bring their interpretations of Spider-Man to the film and the results are fantastic. Rather than just turning up at the final fight, Garfield and Maguire turn up around halfway through which gives plenty of time for the three Peters to become acquainted with each other and build a rapport that is enjoyable to watch and makes for one of the year’s best teams on film. It’s clear that each actor is having a blast with the role and that radiates from their performances. The writing picks up on the differences between each Spider-Man’s universe and includes jokes and comments such as Maguire’s Peter having no idea who the Avengers are while Garfield’s Spider-Man reflects on the loss of Gwen Stacy (which happened in The Amazing Spider-Man 2).

When it comes to the villain performances, the highlights are Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus and Jamie Foxx as Electro. Doctor Octopus is initially seen as an unofficial leader of the group and Molina can always be counted on to provide a brilliant performance. Molina’s performance as Doctor Octopus is gripping from the outset as he has to deal with the confusion of being in an alternative universe while also encountering figures from his past who he believed had died. Spider-Man: No Way Home does a great job at blurring the lines between superhero and villain and this allows Molina to delve even deeper with Doctor Octopus’ character than ever before. Jamie Foxx is another highlight but in a different way. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 did not give Electro’s character the development and nuance needed for Foxx to really shine while the writing in this film does and Electro proves to be one of the best villain characters in the entire film thanks to his sharp wit and strong power that makes him incredibly hard to defeat. It’s clear that Foxx is even more comfortable and confident in the role in this film and the writing also helps to make Electro’s interactions with others feel more natural and believable when compared to his appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

On the surface, it can seem that there is too much going on in Spider-Man: No Way Home but the pacing of the film is perfectly done while still giving plenty of character development for the returning faces which makes it a fantastic watch. Being able to do justice for an interesting character like Electro who wan’t given much in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was nice to see as well as allowing Holland, Maguire and Garfield to have plenty of fun as a team which makes the fight sequences incredibly fun to watch.

What did you think of Spider-Man: No Way Home? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Spider-Man: No Way Home is available to view in cinemas now!

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