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Spider-Man: No Way Home review (2021) - unashamedly ambitious comic book action

Spider-Man: No Way Home shouldn't work and yet it's unbridled confidence in its core concept make it one of the most exciting films in the MCU to date

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Our Verdict

Spider-Man: Way No Way Home impresses with its high concept story even if it does get slightly trapped in a web of fanservice. Basically it's a dream come true for Spider-Man fans.

Spider-Man: No Way Home shouldn’t work. Its story is convoluted, overly reliant on fanservice, and basically requires a degree in the history of the Web-Head to fully understand. Yet, its winning character dynamics, shocking story beats and unbridled confidence in its core concept make it one of the most exciting films in the MCU to date.

Picking up exactly where Far From Home left up, we pick up with Peter Parker (Tom Holland) moments after his identity has been outed by Mysterio. Stripped of his anonymity Peter and his friends become some of the most famous people on the planet, followed everywhere by paparazzi, journalists, and those who believe he murdered Mysterio.

Desperate for help, Peter turns to the man who he helped save half the universe with Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Strange offers to make the world forget Peter is Spider-Man, but the mystic arts aren’t easier been for a master sorcerer, and the spell goes awry. Now the multiverse is collapsing, and Spider-Man villains from other universes – including Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Electro, Lizard, and Sandman all played by their original actors) – are coming through. Can Spidey stop them? Well, you’ll have to watch to find out we’re not spoiling anything.

No Way Home is a difficult film to review. It’s impossible to talk specific plot details without spoiling anything in its second and third act, and even talking around it will give the game away for those familiar with the wider Spider-Canon. On first impressions, though, I loved it.

And there are some things we can talk about. We can say, No Way Home is an incredibly ambitious adventure movie that pulls no punches when it comes to action. One of the highlights we can talk about is the battle against Doc Ock (it’s in the trailer).

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Its clear director Jon Watts is feeling more confident than ever with filming fight scenes, and during Peter’s battle against otto’s terrible twisting tentacles, the camera moves in surprisingly dynamic ways that breathes new life into a fight that has the difficulty of trying to compete against one of the best superhero set pieces of all time, the train scene in Spider-Man 2.

We can warn you as well that Holland wasn’t lying when he said this action movie was going to be “brutal” – for a Marvel film at least. Holland get pummeled emotionally and physically in this film – I’d recommend bringing a box of tissues to be safe- so much so, that it borders on the difficult to watch at times.

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As a result, the film loses some of that John Hughes inspired charm that Homecoming and Far From Home had. It’s a shame because that was one of the more enjoyable things about this version of the Wallcrawler. The film still has moments of levity, usually in the form of Marvel snark, but still, it’s nice that the film doesn’t get mired in misery; instead, it gets lost in the fog of fanservice.

Okay, that’s probably a bit harsh. No Way Home isn’t too self-indulgent with its fanservice and returning characters. The villains feel like they’ve been plucked out of their respective movies and their motivations and characters remain consistent. Similarly, all the winks and nods to the wider MCU canon feel earned at this point, and not tacked on moments of ‘hey remember that thing you like’.

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Where No Way Home really shines through is in its core concept. This is a comic book movie with a capital C. We’re talking bonkers, high-concept silliness that would have been laughed out of Hollywood a decade ago. It won’t work for everyone, but the film approaches its daft as all hell concept with such blistering self-assurance you can’t help but admire it.

A lot of the loftier storytelling is carried by No Way Home’s winning cast. While we know that Holland, Zendaya, and Jacob Batalon work well together the newcomers to the series are a welcome addition. Cumberbatch grumpy magician plays well off the excitable kids while Dafoe and Molina are the film’s secret sauce basically stealing each scene they’re in with some incredible performances that chew through the scenery like hungry beavers.

There’s so much more to talk about No Way Home, but it defies review, to be honest. The best thing we can probably say is if you like the Web-Head this movie is a Spider-Man fan’s dream come true.