This will be a spoiler-free review! (unless you haven't seen the trailers)
Believe the hype, this is one of the best Spider-Man movies and easily one of the best MCU movies. It is really kind of crazy for a movie with this much anticipation to live up to the exceedingly high standards of fans, but No Way Home does just that. There is a great mix of action and heart (a balance the MCU historically does not juggle well) that keep the movie entertaining and emotionally engaging. Top that off with some great performances, specifically from Holland and DaFoe, and you have all the ingredients for the best live action Spider-Man since Spider-Man 2.
I'm going to give a little plot description, but don't worry I won't get into any spoilers if you have seen the trailers. The story kicks off right where Far From Home ended; Mysterio revealed the identity of Spider-Man to the world and convinced people the Peter killed him. This throws Peter and the gang's world upside down and they start to face consequences for being associated with a possible killer. In a desperate move, Peter enlists the help of Dr. Strange to make the world forget he is Spider-Man. After Peter's indecisiveness botches the spell, villains from the multi-verse start invading the world looking for who they think is their Peter Parker.
The story is refreshingly small in scale (for the most part). It mainly revolves are Peter catching all the villains and trying to fix them before Dr. Strange returns them to their original universes. It feels very earnest and a bit naïve, which I think captures Peter's ideals perfectly. There is no real end of the world scenario, just Peter trying to change these villains for the better so that they may experience a better fate upon returning to their world. My only gripe with it is how Dr. Strange's spell seems a bit undercooked, there needs to be a bit of justification to be on board with how this spell works or even that Stephen Strange would ever actually cast it.
One huge area of improvement from the previous Tom Holland movies is the characterizations of Peter and MJ. This is both of their best versions of these characters by a wide margin. Tom Holland really gives it his all, struggling between being a normal kid and a world-saving superhero. Zendaya is finally given some better material with MJ as they made her funny and charismatic. The other standout is William DeFoe, reprising his role as the Green Goblin without missing a beat. He honestly was even better this time around than in the original Spider-Man. Just about everyone came with their A-game for this movie; even Jamie Fox was much improved (albeit his character underwent a major personality change).
The movie is action packed with some really fun and inventive scenes in the middle stretch. The final battle does give off a little bit of the "Big CGI smackdown", but it is saved with a great final few moments and a lot of emotional weight. Even when the action is straight up CGI, the inventive visuals and Holland's pitch perfect quips keep things from getting dull or repetitive.
Overall Spider-Man: No Way Home is everything I could've hoped for, and it makes me really excited about future Tom Holland movies. They really hit this one out of the park in just about every facet.
- Tom Holland's best go as Spider-Man
- Emotionally resonant
- Action packed
- Some plot moments require a bit too much justification