MOVIE REVIEW – Tom Holland returns as Spider-Man, in a very awkward situation: since Mysterio revealed in a video that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, our hero has to find a way to make everyone forget about it.
The solution would be Dr Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) magic, which is supposed to make everyone forget that Parker is Spider-Man. Still, in the magic process, Peter “screws up,” and the operation goes wrong, leading to the main villains of the other Spider-Man cinematic universes being drawn in. From here, it’s just one more step to the fan service mountains. The question is, is this good for us?
There’s already been a Marvel series with this rhetorical title, and in fact, this Spider-Man movie could fit in perfectly because Spider-Man: No Way Home is a giant “What if?”. Without spoiling anything not shown in the trailers, we all know that the classic 2002 Spider-Man, and the villains of the later films, are already in the movie, so the Peter Parker of this Spider-Man universe (Tom Holland), for example, will face off against Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), or Electro (Jaime Foxx). There‘s more than just cameos here, as all sorts of characters are pitted against each other, which should lead to a lot of particularly funny (or dramatic) situations and scenes.
What if it nott?
It works well at first, and while we’ve seen a lot of these situations in the trailers, there’s a certain charm to the way the Alfred Molina-characterised Doc Ock and the Willem Dafoe-Green Goblin and the others sometimes tangle menacingly, sometimes just bumbling around in this other universe. Unfortunately, this rollercoaster also applies to their performances: Molina is still quite professional as Doc Ock, Dafoe is more subdued and a bit dull in his old role, and Jaime Foxx as Electro, the other (rather boring) supervillains, are themselves a bore.
This is not necessarily their fault, because as creative as the basic idea itself is (although the animated Spider-Man has a strikingly similar story), the story and dialogue are so conventional and apart from the “what an idea” of having all the old heroes and anti-heroes in one film, there is not much room for character development, for example.
This is also true of the heroes and supporting actors in recent Marvel films and Spider-Man movies: Benedict Cumberbatch, for example, is forced to play a painfully one-dimensional Dr Strange, which is particularly noticeable after The Dog in the Clutches, in which the actor, who was also great in Sherlock, was simply brilliant. Here, he tries unsuccessfully to spice up his character, who is already a bit of a one-note character, with one-sentence interjections (“Now, that’s why I don’t have children!”). But she has also become equally boring as Aunt May Marisa Tomai, who has started to puff up the older Aunt May’s platitudes in place of the very cool, sexy milf character of the previous episodes.
Tom Holland takes it all on his back
So far, I have written almost only negative things, but it should be noted that Tom Holland carries the whole movie on his back, and it is now a fact that he was the best of the three Spider-Man actors. Parker’s own individual dramas (because there are several of them) are brilliantly portrayed, and the young actor shows what else he can do in severe other film dramas. Of course, Holland doesn’t have much to prove, as he already did in the Netflix creation Always with the Devil.
Finally, we don’t have much to complain about in terms of visuals and action, even if the fights aren’t that epic, but that’s not really what the Spider-Man movies were about.
Overall, I would have preferred another surprise and creatively crafted new supervillain, like Micheal Keaton’s Vulture in the first Spider-Man trilogy and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio in the second. Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina are great actors. Still, they would have needed a more exciting and altogether clever script to hit the ground running the second time around because it just gave their appearance an overdone cameo feel.
Spider-Man: No Way Home, despite its more or less intense negatives, is still a pleasantly good film, with an exciting and cathartic ending, but I was expecting a more decisive third part, with more humour, better dialogue, and more clever and creative story-telling and scenes.