Movies

Movie Review – Spider-Man: No Way Home

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Long before Marvel released its first ever superhero movie (“Iron Man“) that helped launch the most successful superheroes franchise of all time (“The Avengers”), Tobey Maguire (“Pawn Sacrifice”) swung into theaters as Spider-Man.  Believe it or not, that was 20 years ago.  Maguire’s trilogy was beloved.  Then the reboot came only five years after with Andrea Garfield (“The Amazing Spider-Man,” “The Social Network,” “99 Homes”).  Despite of criticisms and incomplete iteration of this version, I enjoyed the movies.  Maguire embodies Peter Parker more, but Garfield’s a great Spider-Man.  

In “Captain America: Civil War,” I couldn’t have imagined how Marvel could weave a brand new Peter and Spider-Man into its universe successfully, but they did with Tom Holland (“The Impossible“), seamlessly incorporating him as Tony Stark’s protégé and the youngest Avenger.  “Spider-Man: Homecoming” was fresh and “Spider-Man: Far from Home” knocked it out of the cobweb.  As a matter of fact, I couldn’t help but flash back to the speedy ride of the uproariously action-packed ‘Far from Home’ during the slow start of ‘No Way Home.’  It does get going though once the multiverse portal opens up and past villains start showing up.

It’s no spoiler to say that Doctor Otto Octavius/Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), Norman Osborn/ Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) and Maxwell Dillon/Electro (Jamie Foxx, “Soul”) appear in the movie, as they’re shown in the trailers.  While fans may be able to put two and two together, this is one of those movies that’s not easy to review without spoiling, as some characters are integrally embedded into the story.  

The storyline though is very straightforward.  The movie picks up exactly where ‘Far from Home’ ended, antagonist Mysterio (Jack Gyllenhaal, “Source Code,” Nightcrawler,” “Prince of Persia: Sands of Time”) revealing to the world not only the identity of Spider-Man, but also framing the web slinger of murdering him and launching the drone attack over London. 

As a result, Peter’s life is turned upside down. His aunt May (Marisa Tomei), girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) are also now targeted due to being associated with Peter.  Even as Peter become very famous though, at the end of the day, he’s still a broke high school senior kid, now trying to get into the college of his dreams.  

Peter goes to see Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, “Doctor Strange,” “The Imitation Game”) and ask him to cast a spell so that people would forget his identity as Spider- Man.  With Peter trying to self-select who should remember him, the spell-casting process goes wrong, creating a tear in reality and a gateway for dead villains from other universes appear in this universe.  The first action set piece on the freeway and bridge involving a hanging car is huge and hilarious.

Wouldn’t the solution be simply returning these villains into their respective universe?  Well, yes, but the thing is they died there, in their fights against Maguire’s Spider-Man or Garfield’s.  While they may be the bad guys, they’re also people and it’s not in Spider-Man’s nature to turn his back on humanity.  I wish this part would have been explored more for a richer story instead of oversimplifying with a quick fix, but at nearly 2.5 hours already, it wouldn’t be possible.  “With great power comes great responsibility” truly hits home here, even as tragedy befalls and emotions flow.

The scenes that follow are high in nostalgia, leading to cheers and claps.  The end battle is filled with special effects, but it’s nothing you could have imagined in other superhero movies.  The warmth, wisdom, humor, charm, camaraderie, poignancy and throwback are wrapped in iconic images and interactions.  Marvel has pulled off something incredibly special here.  

Human experiences and memories are priceless.  Heroes make choices all the time, even life or death, but this is different.  Peter realizes what it means to be a really good person and there’s no way home from here.  Holland’s trilogy concludes on a clean slate and his Spider-Man is either ending or moving forward on a path that is wide open.  

The mid-credit depicts a curious scene that makes you wonder whether the multiverse portal is completely closed and the end credit reveals that you don’t mess with magic without consequences.

Nostalgic and iconic, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is a special tribute to fans… You’ll never see another superhero movie like this one, truly one-of-a-kind.  

Copyright (c) 2021. Nathalia Aryani

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic (rottentomatoes.com/critic/nathalia-aryani). She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven (sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com.

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