MOVIE REVIEWS

REVIEW: ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ is a stunning movie that somehow lives up to its own hype

Dec 14, 2021, 11:32 AM | Updated: Dec 17, 2021, 9:51 am

[NOTE: This article contains NO SPOILERS beyond what is in trailers for the movie]

Salt Lake City, UT — Believe the hype about Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Spider-Man: No Way Home from Sony Pictures & Marvel Studios opens in theaters on Dec. 17, 2021.

I honestly did not expect to be able to say that about this movie.  Between the constant, breathless anticipation from many, the relentless promotion on TV and the internet, all the rumors about potential guest appearances, endless fan theories, my teenage daughters constantly gushing about Tom Holland and the record-breaking ticket pre-sales, I just figured there was no possible way a movie could measure up to all that.

Wow, was I wrong.

THE STORY

Spider-Man: No Way Home manages to throw all the emotions at you over the course of two and a half hours.  Without any story spoilers beyond what has been shown in trailers, the movie begins exactly where 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home ended, with Peter Parker’s identity revealed to the world by the now-dead Mysterio.

With this knowledge public, Peter’s life immediately changes as the press hounds him, people judge him and yell at him, and everywhere he goes is a circus, with people whipping out cell phones to record his every move, including at school.

It also exacts unexpected tolls on the lives of those around him: his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), friends MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) and even Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau).

Spider-Man holds on to MJ (Zendaya) in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

Unable to live with how everything is affecting those he loves, Peter seeks out the sorcerer Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and begs him for help. Strange agrees to cast a spell that will make everyone forget that Peter is Spider-Man, but when Peter asks for some exceptions, the spell gets out of control and Strange is forced to contain it.

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

The attempt is not without consequences, however, as the spell tore a hole between realities and super-powered villains Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin and Electro (Alfred Molina, Willem Dafoe, and Jamie Foxx, each reprising roles from previous Spider-Man movies) appear and attack Peter, thinking he’s the Spider-Man they’ve battled in their past.

Electro, Sandman and Lizard from SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

Now, Peter/Spidey must figure out how weather constant harassment from media mogul J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons), keep his friends and family safe, stop the supervillains, and then figure out how to send them back where they came from.

Green Goblin from Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

WHAT I LIKED

One of the things that I liked most was how well writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers and director Jon Watts manage to juggle screen time for multiple characters without feeling like anyone really got the short end of the stick.  It’s a talent for which Marvel has demonstrated great capability for over a decade now, and was on display once again.

In addition, any appearance of a character felt like it served the story, at least in my opinion. I also liked how the writing was great at getting Spider-Man into difficult situations and then cleverly or appropriately allow him to resolve them within the spirit of the character.

Sommers and McKenna show they truly do understand what makes Spider-Man so beloved by so many.  It’s something I felt was sorely lacking in the recent Venom: Let There Be Carnage.

As a lifelong fan of Spidey, I enjoyed that there were fan service without going overboard, and even some jokes that play off of things from 20 years ago.  In fact, without spoiling anything, the way the legacy villains were used in the story once again demonstrates producer Kevin Feige’s talent and reminds why Sony was wise to partner with Disney/Marvel on this valuable IP.

Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) and Spider-Man battle it out in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

Additionally, there were plenty of emotional moments for me as a fan of both Marvel in general, and Spider-Man in particular.  You’re in for a lot of twists and turns and both your connection to, and your investment in these characters will be played upon.

WARNINGS

Spider-Man: No Way Home is rated PG-13 for

It also has a 2 hour and 28 minute run time, including a mid-credits and post-credits scene–and we all know that almost everybody is going to stay for both.

Additionally, and maybe the ONLY drawback to this film, is the warning that it will not be the same experience for a viewer who hasn’t seen at least a few Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, and/or the original Spider-Man trilogy from 2002-2007, and the Amazing Spider-Man movies of 2012-2014, as it is for those who know them well.  Fans who give those films a re-watch before heading to No Way Home will only benefit from it.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Unfortunately, I can’t give my full thoughts and feelings about Spider-Man: No Way Home because of spoilers (I’ll put all of those in the next episode of the Fan Effect podcast for after you’ve watched the movie.)

I can say that it is fun, it is exciting, it does justice to some characters who have been maligned in the past, it is emotionally satisfying and does a great job wrapping up the “Homecoming” trilogy of movies.  I loved it.  On first watch, it is immediately in my top two or three superhero movies of ALL-TIME.

WHERE TO WATCH

Spider-Man: No Way Home is playing exclusively in movie theaters and is not available on any streaming platforms at this time.

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


Hopefully you & your family found this review helpful! Andy Farnsworth does a weekly “What To Watch” segment for the KSL 5 Today morning news show and also hosts the Fan Effect podcast for KSL NewsRadio. Check out his other in-depth reviews of movies and streaming TV series on KSLTV.com.

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REVIEW: ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ is a stunning movie that somehow lives up to its own hype