Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
"Spider-Man: No Way Home" stars Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Benedict Wong, Jamie Foxx, and Alfred Molina. Released on December 17, 2021, the film has Peter Parker teaming up with Dr. Strange to save the world.
The film is directed by Jon Watts, who also directed "Clown", "Cop Car", "Spider-Man: Homecoming", and "Spider-Man: Far From Home". It is the 27th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Spider-Man has been having one heck of a journey in the MCU since he entered the scene in "Captain America: Civil War". He battled the super-soldier, went toe-to-toe against Vulture and Mysterio, helped the Avengers defeat Thanos, and gained himself a girlfriend in the form of Zendaya. His recent adventures have proven to be more successful than the webhead's previous outings from Sam Raimi and Marc Webb. This year, we see the titular hero facing a challenge that's more frightening than choosing the right college: the multiverse. Oh, and being New York's public enemy #1. What more can I say about Spider-Man's latest adventure other than the fact that it's finally here? Ever since we saw Mysterio gain the last laugh in "Far From Home", we've been patiently waiting to see what happens next for Peter and his friends after his secret has been exposed in front of everyone. After months of speculation, theories, and teases, we can finally witness the most pivotal part of Peter's story arc, which also happens to be the most ambitious and mature installment in his solo film series. There were obvious reasons why I was very excited for this film: I enjoyed the previous MCU Spider-Man films, the multiverse concept, and the return of several villains from the past movies. If those weren't enough to get me hooked, I don't know what will. Now that it's here to invade the holiday season, was it able to conclude Peter's journey on an exciting note? More importantly, was it good enough to "save" movie theaters? Let's find out. Also, this will be a spoiler-free review so that you readers can experience it yourselves.
The story takes place immediately after "Far From Home", where Peter Parker's (Holland) secret identity as Spider-Man had been exposed by Mysterio. To add more salt to the wound, he's been branded as a menace to society and is falsely accused of Mysterio's death. As a result, Peter's life and reputation are spiraling out of control, and the lives of his closest friends and family are put at risk, including his girlfriend MJ (Zendaya). Peter then seeks the help of Dr. Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) to restore his identity with magic. However, the catch is that everyone will forget he's Spider-Man, including MJ, his friend Ned (Batalon), and his Aunt May (Tomei), which concerns Peter. Peter's interference with Strange's spell accidentally opened up the multiverse, as if the season finale of "Loki" wasn't enough to make it happen. This also unleashed several supervillains from alternate realities who previously fought their versions of Spider-Man, such as Dr. Otto Octavious (Molina) and the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe). With the universe in danger of elimination, Peter, Dr. Strange, and his friends join forces to restore the multiverse and defeat the world's most dangerous criminals. Peter will learn what it truly means to be Spider-Man during the process. The film has many expectations to meet to provide the same riveting experience as "Avengers: Endgame". Not only did it need a scope that offers life-or-death stakes and blockbuster action, but it also needed a story that takes the characters in bold and emotional directions. More importantly, it had to maintain the humor and heart that made the previous MCU Spider-Man films…well, amazing. Add in some fan service, and you get a massive superhero recipe that could swing in either direction regarding the execution. This was an extremely tall order for "No Way Home" to handle, especially after what happened with "Spider-Man 3" and "The Amazing Spider-Man 2", two sequels that failed to live up to their predecessors. Thankfully, and unsurprisingly, "No Way Home" managed to rip that unfortunate trend apart in more ways than one. Yes, my fellow webheads, I'm delighted to say that the hype is real. From its emotional story to the multiverse concept, "No Way Home" is not only another fantastic Spider-Man sequel but also one of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe sequels ever. Does it beat out "Spider-Man 2" as my favorite Spider-Man sequel? Eh, almost. But, I will say it's way better than "Spider-Man 3" and "The Amazing Spider-Man 2". Two of the reasons why are the story and Jon Watts's direction. Without giving too much away, I thought the story worked exceptionally well in balancing the thought-provoking drama with the fan service and superhero action. Some may argue that the pacing in-between the action felt a bit slow, and the finale followed the usual formula of providing visually-grand showdowns. However, Jon Watts (who directed the previous Spider-Man installments) managed to make these issues tolerable by delivering plenty of narrative surprises that rightfully earn their tears and cheers. More importantly, the fan service presented in "No Way Home" didn't feel too forced as they properly serve as the main aspects of its themes and characterization. Another reason was the main actors and the chemistry between them. Three movies in, and they still never lost that charismatic spark. Holland, Zendaya, and Batalon were again superb as Peter, MJ, and Ned, respectively, regarding their performances and the comedy. The MCU's Spider-Man films have always impressed me with the character's coming-of-age journey of heroism as well as Holland's stellar portrayal, and "No Way Home" is no exception. I hope we see more of this representation later on, if not soon. Benedict Cumberbatch was also excellent in his role as Doctor Strange, and Alfred Molina proved himself to be the best live-action depiction of Otto Octavius. The cast's chemistry is an element that honors the phrase, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". It was highly entertaining in the previous installments, and it was highly engaging here. The character interactions helped keep things interesting amid its world-saving plot, and they delivered plenty of well-earned laughs and depth, especially in the film's second half. As usual, the action sequences were what you expect out of a Spider-Man movie: intense, nicely choreographed, and visually striking, especially when Strange's magic comes into play. While I wouldn't say which sequence was my favorite because I don't want to provide any spoilers, I will say that the action hits hard in its emotion without losing the essence of fun in the process.
Overall, "Spider-Man: No Way Home" did whatever a spider can to deliver the franchise's biggest and most ambitious sequel to date. The result is a spectacular web-swinging experience that honors the Marvel character and his fans while providing an emotional and satisfying chapter in Peter's journey. The film swung its way to the top and accomplished something that no other Spider-Man sequel could: form a near-perfect trilogy featuring our friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. I guess you can say that it's an early Christmas gift that Spider-Man fans, young and old, will love. I should know because I was one of them. I'm glad to see the tremendous effort put into this blockbuster, and I can surely bet that you will be too.
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