• Release Date: 16/12/2021
  • Cast: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Benedick Cumberbatch, Alfred Molina, Willem Dafoe, Jamie Foxx
  • Director: Jon Watts

The Tom Holland Spider-Man films have been doing a lot of things right. I liked each of the subsequent films more than the previous and director Jon Watts has peaked his game with No Way Home, a layered and expansive adventure that has all that we love about Spider-Man adventures and yet feels strangely humane and normal in its drama and rendition of human conditions. In this iteration of the character, Spider-Man’s identity has been revealed by Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) at the end of the last film, Spider-Man: Far From Home. With his true identity revealed and his actions to stop Mysterio brought under scanner, Peter Parker AKA Spider-Man is crushed under the immense pressure of the notoriety that he is suddenly exposed to and the criminal proceedings that are brought up against him and his friends and family.

Tom Holland stars as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Doctor Strange in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

With the help of his new attorney (a character from a much-loved Netflix series of another Marvel Superhero), Peter is able to stay out of prison but the kind of attention that he attracts and the way his notoriety impacts the lives of his friends and family proves to be too much for him to fathom. When he and his friends MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) are denied admission into the MIT despite having all the prerequisites, Peter decides to pay a visit to Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to seek his help in erasing his past and somehow bringing back a semblance of order and peace in his life. Strange decides to cast a spell that will make all the people in the world forget Peter’s true identity except the ones he decides to leave out. The spell doesn’t work as per Strange’s design. Soon Peter is reeling under the weight of a gamut of sinister villains from different universes who have only one thing in common- their conflict with a certain Spider-Man. 

As I sat watching Spider-Man: No Way Home, I couldn’t help but draw parallels with Avengers: Endgame and correlate the reasons that ensured that I had an exasperating experience with both films. Endgame was a culmination of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe up till that point and it tipped the hat to every Marvel film ever made leading up to it. No Way Home feels very similar in its treatment of every Spider-Man film, and it has almost every major character and plot point of all Spider-Man films ever made converging on a single point. 

What this does for No Way Home is that it injects the film with elements that different generations of filmgoers and Marvel fans have been following and enjoying. This in turn makes the proceedings feel brimming with exciting moments and throwbacks to some of the best things that we enjoyed about the Spider-Man films. Memorable characters like Doc Oc, Green Goblin, Sandman, Electro, etc. can be seen in their elements doing things that we have seen them doing before and enjoyed. This brings to the fore a lot of fond memories that instantly enhance the appeal and thrill of a lot of the sequences. Without spoiling anything for anyone, I can safely say that the villains are not the only characters that make an appearance from the previous Spider-Man films. 

The most surprising aspect of the film for me was the immense emotional impact that it had on me. One of the most important and likable characters of the Tom Holland Spider-Man films is killed in this film and that one sequence laces the entire film with a potent emotional payload that has an overbearing on the rest of the film and makes the actions and rage of the protagonist that much more relatable and meaningful. Even the camaraderie between Peter Parker, MJ, and Ned is of much importance in this film. The jokes are there but they are toned down and made to feel organic and natural. 

Peter Parker takes a huge risk by going to Strange and asking him to cast the spell and his actions are justified through the predicament that his friends are shown enduring for being Peter’s friends. Peter’s desperate efforts towards getting his friends out of trouble could only have been justified if their friendship and love were rendered real and impactful and that is something that is ensured throughout the film with subtle but powerful sequences that reiterate their love and concern for each other. 

Tom Holland’s version of the Spider-Man was the only Spider-Man to date that didn’t have a personal tragedy that would go on to shape his actions and him as an individual. Jon Watts uses this aspect of the superhero to its fullest in this film and he does one better by tagging his tragedy to that of the previous iterations of the character and extracting an exceptionally rich and emotionally rewarding sequence that not only goes on to document the fact that destiny is all-powerful but also goes on to show that how different individuals cope and learn to live with their tragedies and can, in fact, use their tragedies into making them better and more humane individuals.

I have always found 3D as a gimmick to enhance the viewership of a film. However, a rare film like No Way Home feels justified in using 3D as its action and visual palate feels designed to offer maximum impact when watched with an added dimension. It is also a thing that the rendition of the 3D had to be done well to make the desired impact and that is something that we have come to expect from Hollywood. Thankfully, they do not disappoint. The action of the film feels physical and is designed for maximum impact. The choreography of the action is poetic as one might expect from the nature of the action associated with Spider-Man but at the same time, it has enough physicality to make you feel the impact of every blow and also the harrowing results of the widescale destruction that the arrival of a plethora of villains in the same town can result in.

Tom Holland, Zendaya and Jacob Batalon in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME. CR: Matt Kennedy/Columbia Pictures

My only complaint with the action was with the fact that the climactic battle unfolds at night. This, up to a certain extent spoils the fun of the visual wizardry. However, the way the rest of the action sequences are envisioned and executed leaves no room for any complaints. The fact that each of the villains in the film has their own unique powers and they bring forth a different type of danger and visual rendition of that danger ensures that the action sequences are endlessly entertaining, fascinating, and thrilling. I would have loved to comment on something else that I loved about the action and that was one aspect that made the Spider-Man fan in me jump up and down in my seat, but I will refrain from giving any spoilers here. It’s best that you experience it firsthand in theaters. 

Spider-Man and Electro in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

Spider-Man: No way Home must be lauded for its storytelling and how efficiently the writers seamlessly gel together narrative elements from films that are nearly 20 years old. While there are loopholes in the logic and some of it is rather obvious, I didn’t have any problem in suspending my disbelief as the storytelling and the thrill elements of the film kept me engrossed and treated me with some much-needed respect. The performances by the ensemble cast were wonderful and it seemed as if every character was taking itself seriously including the ones that might not have taken them seriously. This not only gives the film a lot of credibility in terms of the drama that it is trying to put forth but also makes it that much more investing.

Spider-Man No Way Home is the most fun that I have had in a Marvel film since Avengers: Endgame. The film has a mid-credit and an end-credit scene. I urge you all to not leave the theater until you are done watching both. These two scenes will add to your already rewarding movie experience and whet your appetite for what is to come next. 

Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)

BTSCrosswalk: Concert airs today! Watch here.

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