SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME Review - Peter Parker Comes Of Age In Emotional, Fan-Pleasing Finale

SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME Review - Peter Parker Comes Of Age In Emotional, Fan-Pleasing Finale

Spider-Man: No Way Home hits theaters this weekend, and Sony Pictures' exciting trilogy capper finally allows Tom Holland's take on Peter Parker to grow into his big-boy webs. Check out our review.

This is a spoiler-free review, but if you haven't watched the trailers and want to go in as fresh as possible, best come back later!

Amid a seemingly endless array of rumors, speculation, and several pretty major leaks, Spider-Man: No Way Home is finally with us (or will be this weekend in the U.S.). Though other recent superhero films have certainly given rise to their share of online theories (Avengers: Endgame, for example), it's hard to recall a time when fans were thwhipped up into as much of a frenzy over the mere prospect of what they might see in a movie.

Under the weight of such massive expectations, No Way Home was hard pressed to deliver. Fortunately, a few minor missteps aside, Sony Pictures' latest (final?) solo Spidey adventure lives up to the hype.

The story picks up immediately after the events of Far From Home's shocking post-credits scene, with Spider-Man (Tom Holland) forced to deal with the fallout of the entire world learning the identity of his civilian alter-ego. Peter attempts to adjust to the situation, but when his new-found fame/infamy begins to impact the lives of his girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and best pal Ned (Jacob Batalon), he decides to enlist the aid of fellow Avenger Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). The former Sorcerer Supreme (Wong now holds that title!) casts a spell to make the whole world forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, but when things go awry, some very dangerous individuals emerge from the Multiverse - and they all hold a grudge against Spider-Man.

Reluctant to send these villains back to their own realities to face certain death, Peter instead decides to attempt to help them. But the resulting conflict with Strange leads to dire consequences which force the young hero to make some impossible choices.

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Since this is all that's been revealed in the trailers, it'd be unfair to delve much deeper into the story - but even if you think you have a fair idea of how things are going to play out, rest assured, the movie still has a few surprises in store. 

Adding a bunch of new elements to the mix while wrapping up a trilogy in a satisfactory manner is no easy task, and director Jon Watts and screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers deserve credit for keeping so many plates spinning over the course of the film. The bad guys aren't just there as a nostalgia boost for old-school Spider-Man fans, with Willem Dafoe (Green Goblin), Alfred Molina (Doc Ock) and Jamie Foxx (Electro) given room to build on their previous iterations of these characters in some very interesting ways. Dafoe, in particular, is a joy to watch as he struggles with both sides of Norman Osborn's personality, giving a genuinely menacing, at times even creepy performance. Lizard (Rhys Ifans) and Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) are given less to do, but still have an important part to play, and Zendaya, Batalon, Marisa Tomei (Aunt May) and Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan) all offer fine support.

With everything going on, there was always a danger of Spidey getting lost in the shuffle of his own movie, but Peter's arc actually proves to be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of the film. It made sense that Parker would be a little naive and inexperienced when he first debuted as a teenager, but despite going through some serious, life-altering experiences over the course of his MCU journey, the character was never really allowed to grow up. No Way Home finally sees Parker graduate from Spider-Boy to Spider-Man, and the hero is taken to some emotional, surprisingly dark places. This gives Holland a lot more room to stretch his acting muscles while bringing something to his take on the Webhead we haven't seen before, and he's never been better in the role.

As the story moves towards its final act and all the pieces converge, things do get a little messy, and Marvel Studios' "default to humor" setting results in some tonal inconsistencies. The movie is frequently hilarious, but a couple of dramatic moments could have used a little more room to breath before we're hit with the inevitable gags. There's also a protracted scene involving two characters which isn't quite as amusing as the movie seems to think it is.

These are really just nitpicks, though, because No Way Home works on so many levels that the things it does right render any minor issues immaterial. If you're a Spider-Man fan, you are going to get a lot out of it, and if you happen to love this latest incarnation of the wall-crawler, you'll likely be crying tears of joy by the time the credits roll.

Peter Parker comes of age in the MCU's best Spider-Man movie yet. No Way Home is a fun, exciting, occasionally intense love letter to Spidey fans past and present, which takes the iconic hero - and The Marvel Cinematic Universe - to some surprising places. If this is the last we see of Tom Holland's web-slinger for a while, it's a more than fitting farewell.

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