Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

The tick-the-checkbox fan servicing approach is a mixed bag—the nostalgising can be oddly satisfying but the storytelling ironically feels regressive in the very construct designed to entertain a range of creative possibilities.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Review #2,322

Dir. Jon Watts
2021 | USA | Action/Fantasy | 148 mins | 2.39:1 | English & Tagalog
PG (passed clean) for sequences of action/violence, some language and brief suggestive comments

Cast: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon, Willem Dafoe, Jamie Foxx, Alfred Molina
Plot: With Spider-Man’s identity now revealed, Peter asks Doctor Strange for help. When a spell goes wrong, dangerous foes from other worlds start to appear, forcing Peter to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man.
Awards: Nom. for Best Visual Effects (Oscars)
Distributor: Sony

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Light/Fun
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Normal
Audience Type: Mainstream

Viewed: In Theatres (GV Vivo)
Spoilers: No

The third instalment in the Tom Holland Spider-Man franchise very much picks up from its predecessor without any disruption, as Spider-Man’s true identity is no more a secret. 

He meets Doctor Strange for advice and the latter attempts a spell that might just rectify things—or unleash an even more terrifying scenario: a multiverse of villains waiting at Peter Parker’s doorstep. 

Fans of Spider-Man over the last two decades will surely lap this entry up.  There’s a good bit of nostalgising involved but while this can be oddly satisfying from moment to moment, the tick-the-checkbox fan servicing approach is a mixed bag to me. 

It is easy to be caught up in the fervent enthusiasm for whatever Marvel throws at us, but Spider-Man: No Way Home is less interesting a film than the two movies (Homecoming and Far from Home) that came before. 

We do see more emotional acting range from Holland here though, which is perhaps far more memorable than the unexpectedly rote action set-pieces. 

“You’re flying out into the darkness to fight ghosts.”

The problem is that the very construct designed to entertain a range of creative possibilities ironically implicates the storytelling, rendering the narrative circularly regressive, a coiling up into itself.  The film feels like an addendum, a concert encore with frenemies. 

Having said all that, most audiences won’t care, and in fact, this has performed sensationally at the box-office with a US$253 million opening weekend. 

The figure, however, is a double-edged sword—it is both galvanising and depressing; galvanising because people are flocking back to the cinemas, but depressing because it suggests that there is nothing else out there worth seeing.

All in all, I still did mildly enjoy No Way Home, but for a film that is way too reliant on crowd-pleasing moments, I can’t say I’m convinced that it is a great Marvel entry. 

Grade: B-




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