Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Jon Watts

Stars: Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, J K Simmons, Alfred Molina, Jamie Foxx, Willem Dafoe, Thomas Haden Church, Rhys Ifans. 

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This third film in Jon Watts’ unofficial Spiderman/Home trilogy takes up immediately after the events of Spiderman: Far From Home. The villainous Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) has just revealed to the world that Spiderman’s real identity is Peter Parker (Tom Holland), a 17-year-old schoolboy. With the urging of Daily Bugle editor J Jonas Jameson (J K Simmonds), now a shock jock with a digital platform, the population comes to regard Spiderman and Peter as villains. His reputation also affects the opportunities for his girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) to be accepted into the college of their choice. 

Anxious to have the world forget that he is Spiderman, Peter approaches Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to cast a spell that will effectively wipe out everyone’s memories. But the spell goes wrong and opens up a portal in the multiverse that lets through all of the key villains from both the Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire eras. Thankfully the producers have not recast these roles, so we get Alfred Molina as Doctor Otto Octavius, Jamie Foxx as Electro, Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborne/Green Goblin, and more. There is an instant familiarity with these characters and their backstories. (I imagine that a casting agent must have been pulling his hair out in frustration at the delicate negotiations required to bring this stellar cast together.) And this leads to a running joke throughout the film as these villains constantly tell Holland’s character that he is “not Peter Parker”. 

Dr Strange wants to imprison all of these villains in his basement sanctum, and eventually send them back to where they came. But heeding the wise words of his beloved Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) Spiderman wants to try and cure them. This leads to complications that throw Peter’s world into chaos and he learns the truth of her warning that “with great power comes great responsibility.” With his mentor Tony Stark long gone, Peter has to learn how to harness his powers effectively. 

After a couple of recent duds like the dull Eternals, Spiderman: No Way Home marks a welcome return to form for Marvel. The Spiderman series has always been one of the more consistent franchises within the Marvel universe, and Spiderman: No Way Home is, arguably, one of the best so far. This is the kind of filmmaking that Marvel was best known for – fun, full of spectacular action sequences and great special effects, and hugely entertaining. A fight between Dr Octavius and Spiderman on a crowded freeway is one of the highlights.  

The script has been written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers (who both worked on the previous two films in this trilogy with Homecoming and Far From Home), and they have managed to solve the problem of having our hero face multiple villains at the same time. The film is full of a self-aware humour and clever in-jokes for the fans. And while it is also shaped with a sense of humanity and compassion, it still has its darker moments and is capable of a few surprises. Returning director Watts is familiar with the formula here and he certainly delivers one of the better entries in the Spiderman franchise. This is definitely a crowd pleaser. 

Holland is a perfect fit for the iconic role and brings plenty of youthful energy, enthusiasm and naivety to his performance, and his take on Spiderman/Peter Parker is different from previous incarnations. Holland and Zendaya are a real-life couple off screen and their crackling chemistry here is palpable. Batalon brings plenty of comic relief with his role as the bumbling Ned. Cumberbatch brings gravitas to his role as Doctor Strange, and he and Holland share a great chemistry. While Molina seems to be having a ball reprising his Doc Ock character, and Dafoe and Foxx also seem to be enjoying themselves, other villains like Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and Lizard (Rhys Ifans) are given less to do. 

Spiderman: No Way Home his is definitely a crowd pleaser, and it will certainly appeal to the loyal Marvel superhero fan base. 


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