Running time: 2h 28min
Directed by Jon Watts
Written by Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Stan Lee (based on the Marvel comic book by)
Starring Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch
What do you get when you cram years and years’ worth of different iterations of a comic book superhero and his villains into the same film? In the case of Spider-Man: No Way Home, a pretty decent popcorn flick.
Unless I miscounted, Spider-Man: No Way Home is the 8th Spider-Man film with “Spider-Man” in the title, starting from Sam Raimi’s 2002 hit, which was aptly titled Spider-Man. But that’s not all, folks: there was also a 1977 film with the same title, and let’s not forget that the character appears in some Marvel movies, such as Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). Based on the above, we can deduce that A) Spider-Man is a popular comic book superhero and B) Hollywood loves to milk that fact for all its worth. Most of these films are at least watchable, but it does get ridiculous how often the same character is reintroduced with a new actor. But until these films stop being profitable to make, money talks. With S-M: NWH being a huge success ($200 million budget, $1.9 billion in the box office), it is guaranteed that the spider will get silked for a long while yet. I have not seen all of the Spider-Man films, nor do I want to, but I decided to check this one out due to the positive reception it has gotten.
Due to magical shenanigans, the past versions of Spider-Man, played by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, as well as the villains Electro (Jamie Foxx), Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), The Lizard (Rhys Ifans), and Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), are pulled into the world/universe/timeline of the current Spider-Man (Tom Holland). There’s a ton of characters and even Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil (Charlie Cox), makes an appearance. It all makes enough sense to justify the film throwing all these characters together. Overall, it works well, and even someone who is not a huge fan, such as me, got some enjoyment out of seeing the old characters (especially Dafoe’s Green Goblin and Molina’s Doc Ock) again. The performances are good all around and the film does not feel like a mess despite juggling so many characters.
The idea of having a bunch of established characters team up is not new, but S-M: NWH merges the past and the present quite well. It relies on nostalgia to some extent, and I think that is fine when it’s done well. It’s fun to see the characters interact and figure things out. For someone completely uninitiated, this film would definitely be confusing, however.
As with most Marvel products, there is not much to complain about the technical aspects of S-M: NWH. At the same time, I do not think it was particularly memorable visually. In fact, while there are some memorable moments, the plot overall is merely a functional device to get the characters together. Of course, I have only seen the film once, some time has passed since, and I am not completely in the target demographic. In any case, I was reasonably entertained for most of the duration of the movie, and that is the most important factor in a popcorn flick. I think the character moments are much better than the action and spectacle, not that the action is badly done; as with most other superhero films, the action just does not have much stakes to it (a character does die, though), making it difficult to care.
In the sea of endless sequels, reboots, prequels, and reimaginings that make up the Hollywood landscape, S-M: NWH is guilty of the same crime, but it is put together better than most of its competition. That is not to say that it is more than a well-made entertainment product, but it does not have to be. It’s an amusement park ride that is worth the fee, unlike most of the garbage out there.
S-M: NWH is an entertaining film that is competently put together; it is quite obviously better than most superhero movies. It plays on the nostalgia that people have for the past films and does so successfully, but it could have perhaps done more with the budget and all the talent involved. Those who are fans of the genre, the character, and/or the previous movies will undoubtedly get more out of this spectacle than others.
Rating: 6.5 / 10
For fans of the genre/character/past films: 7.0 to ?.? / 10
Times I had seen this film prior to this viewing: 0
Would I want to rewatch this film? It is possible that I will at some point in the next 40 years