Spider-Man: No Way Home ★★★★
Starring Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alfred Molina, Willem Dafoe, Jacob Batalon
Ladies and gentlemen, it's finally here!
The most anticipated movie of 2021 arrives to prove once again why audiences love the titular hero Spider-Man; this time in a breakneck adventure across Marvel's multiverse that heavily relies on nostalgia to hold itself together.
When we last saw the wall-crawler his identity was unmasked to the world in a final post-credit sting from the fresh face of the Far From Home villain Mysterio. Picking up immediately after that, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) learns the his actions have impacted the lives of his friends and seeks out Marvel alumni Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to undo all of the damage cause, accidentally tearing apart the multiverse and summoning classic Spider-Man villains back with a vengeance as a result.
As you can tell, plot wise No Way Home is very messy, with its rapid fire pacing that attempts to cover a lot of ground within the first ten minutes. The barrage almost compliments the stress our characters must be under in a situation never before seen on screen before.
With the amount of story and lore to unfold within the movie's 2 and a half hour runtime, the dialogue is clearly dumbed down to its basic 'by the numbers' core and you are expected to go with plot conveniences just as you would a kid-friendly Saturday morning cartoon.
The Holland Spider-Man era has proudly benefitted from going against the grain, providing viewers with character iterations and situations never before seen on screen. So it's a little strange to see that thrown out of the window for five villains that we've already experienced so soon after Mysterio.
Whilst it is a joy to see them return and interact with one another, nothing is ever achieved that's more compelling than their individual performances in their existing movies. Ultimately, the true fan within me yearned to see Spider-Man face the infamous Sinister Six and it's a shame to see them so close to delivering that with this near perfect lineup.
In all honesty, I really struggled to engage with the first half of this movie as it juggled all of these existing elements, searching for new compelling ground.
...the MCU Spider-Man sets the jokes aside for a gut-punching, moving moment that stops the world to inject something missing in the latest version of the character: real emotion. Because of this, the final punch-up is all the more compelling for what it stands for, rather than what actually happens.
In a certain spoiler-filled moment, the eruption of happiness was palpable throughout the entire theatre, a moment very few films ever achieve - pure cinema at its finest. The road towards this may have been rocky but it's way more rewarding to see them stick the landing than ace the journey and fall flat on its face.
In the end, No Way Home plays out like a Greatest Hits album with all the songs you've purchased before, but that doesn't make you enjoy them any less. The ramifications leave Tom Holland's Spider-Man in a position he's needed to be to stand tall as a hero worthy of the mask, and I'm excited to see where the multiverse takes us next.
Spider-Man: No Way Home available in cinemas now