It would be fair to say that the latest instalment in the Spider-Man saga is the most eagerly awaited of the lot. This is down to a number of factors; the first being the fact that audiences are now flocking back to the cinema to watch movies as they should be seen, on a big screen!
Secondly, the alluring charm of the latest actor to put on the Spidey suit, Tom Holland, is outrageously popular, far more so than Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, the two stars who previously played the webbed crusader.
Holland’s boyish charm, and his relationship with co-star Zendaya, have helped to push Marvel’s stock in a big way, and the added bonus is that this latest film, Spider-Man: No Way Home, is excellent on so many levels.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, in which case a review of Spider-Man: No Way Home won’t be all that interesting, you’ll be aware of the use of the idea of a multiverse within the narrative of the third outing with Tom Holland as the lead.
Here, he must take on a variety of villains from previous movies, with Alfred Molina’s Doctor Oc being a particular favourite of many, and this works on many levels. Fans of the Marvel franchise are invested in the entire history of the comic books and films, and therefore any time that a movie seeks to pay off that investment by showing even glimpses of characters from other dimensions was always going to score well with fans of the series.
The way this film kicks off directly after Far from Home is a good way to get straight to the point, and that immediacy adds to the danger felt by the lead, with Peter Parker’s real identity being made known to the world, which is an interesting plot device that leads us nicely to the events that bring the multiverse into play.
This, too, is well dealt with. Clearly, the idea of a multiverse can be a serious headache to take in, but it’s managed well and comically at times to help make the science work in the minds of the viewers who, let’s face it, just want to be entertained.
Great Visual Effects
Obviously, a crucial part of any superhero movie is the special effects. It’s not easy to get the right mix of actual effects and CGI, just ask Zac Snyder, but we can say that the overall quality of what’s on offer in No Way Home is astonishing.
Often special effects sequences can be too aggressive or simply used just for the sake of it; that’s not the case here. It’s no surprise that the film is one of the favourites to collect the Oscar for visual effects and the way they are used is an excellent example of how aspiring filmmakers should approach the fantasy genre.
Clearly, a budding director can now access a wealth of great effects via an SFX library, but that doesn’t mean they should use them all just because they are there. The reason it works so well in No Way Home is that they are used sparingly, allowing the characters and their stories to still be front and centre.
Marvel is certainly in need of a successful film after the relative failures of Eternals and Black Widow, and with Spider-Man: No Way Home, they’ve certainly achieved the right combination of critical acclaim and box office returns.
Solid Emotional Centre
Though Tom Holland’s version of Spider-Man is more youthful than his predecessors, he arguably gives his character more of a range than Maguire and Garfield, though that is perhaps more due to the way the superhero is given more to play with than simply trying to save the world without his identity being revealed.
Holland’s Spider-Man is a vulnerable version of the hero, and it works excellently, especially with the backdrop of Peter Parker being outed as the eponymous hero. He pulls off this mixture of superhero machismo and emotional depth in a way that resonates with the viewer.
Whereas Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield played the role with a brooding menace, Holland’s naivety and relaxed nature are, arguably, far closer to the characters first created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
There has clearly been a great deal of talk about whether the earlier Spider-Man iterations appear in the movie, but we’ll not touch that subject for fear of revealing any potential spoilers, but regardless of this, Spider-Man: No Way Home is the best film of those made during the Marvel Cinematic Universe era, and its success is a tribute to the great directorial vision of Jon Watts, who tackles the subject matter in just the way a fan of the comics should do.
Holland, Zendaya, and sidekick Jacob Batalon are all excellent, as is Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Molina as Doctor Oc, and Willem Defoe, reprising his role at the Green Goblin with aplomb.