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Review: Spider-Man: No Way Home

So, I just saw Spider-Man: No Way Home on Christmas Day and I honestly feel that this movie deserves a proper review.

Source: IMDB

Now, before I jump in, I want to preface this by admitting that I saw this film as a stand-alone movie – I did not see Marvel’s previous Spider-Man installments before seeing this, so I have very little knowledge of the Spider-Man world Marvel has built.

That being said, after seeing the movie the first time, I was able to do a little research that filled in some of the blanks for me. Also, with the knowledge that I have of Marvel’s Doctor Strange and the concept of the multiverse, I was able to piece together the idea of villains from previous Spider-Man universes showing up here.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to the proper review!

Summary

The movie opens with a press release from the previous Spider-Man installment where Peter Parker’s identity as a superhero was revealed to the world.

When the leak of his identity prevents Peter and his friends MJ and Ned from getting into college, Peter goes to Doctor Strange for help, to make sure people no longer know he’s Spider-Man. However, the spell gets corrupted from Peter’s constant alterations, and all the previous Spider-Man villains from other universes leak into Peter’s universe.

Doctor Strange tells Peter that the villains were all sent here right before they died, so they would probably die once they were sent home. Not wanting this to happen, Peter sets out to help them be cured of their villainous ways. However, when one of the villains turns on him, Peter finds himself in a race against time to get them all back home before they destroy him.

Can he get them all back home before it’s too late?

Initial Thoughts

I remember my first thought upon walking out of the theater after my first viewing: “That was so much fun!” I really got sucked into the world of the story, and Peter’s adventures as Spider-Man were very enjoyable to see!

So, confession: I originally only wanted to see this movie because Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role as Doctor Strange in it.

However, there’s a good chunk of the movie where Doctor Strange is not there, and I found myself pleasantly surprised that I was still enjoying myself despite the fact that he was kind of missing in action (and he came back for the climax, so it’s not like they were leaving any loose threads open with him, either).

Anyway, I found myself really liking Peter and his friends. I was moved by how they always stuck by each other, no matter the danger they were facing.

I really like that this film didn’t shy away from some of the darker concepts as well. It was interesting to see the themes of loss and revenge and how they were presented in the story. It made me feel for Peter, and I just wanted to see him heal and move forward.

Characters

Tom Holland as Peter Parker
Source: Wikipedia

Peter Parker

I have to admit, I warmed up to this kid. I was delightfully surprised at about the halfway point when I realized that I wanted to see him succeed at his goals (mainly because, going into this, I had no clue about who he was).

Tom Holland plays the character as the friendly, charming teenager who just wants to do what’s right, and I loved watching him grow and change throughout the movie, as he worked to get through the aftereffects of a traumatic experience he had.

One thing that I think was done particularly well were the emotions he displayed after this event happened to him. I saw the anger and hurt and how it moved him to do things that he wouldn’t otherwise, and I felt for him. I didn’t want him to do those things, but I could still see where it was all coming from.

Michelle Jones-Watson (MJ)

Zendaya as MJ Watson
Source: Wikipedia

I admit, I was worried that this character would annoy me, because she’s played by Zendaya, and I am not a huge Zendaya fan. However, I ended up liking her, too. Turns out, when she’s not stuck in a Disney Channel sitcom, she can actually do pretty well.

I loved that she always stayed by Peter, no matter what happened to him, no matter what it meant for her. Her motto “Expect disappointment and you will never be disappointed” resonated with me, because I tended to think like that a lot growing up, although – like her – I am trying to grow out of that type of thinking to a more positive mindset.

I really appreciated that her romantic relationship with Peter was kept in the background. There are a few kisses and even a humorous scene concerning sex between the two of them, but it largely felt like the romantic part of their relationship was downplayed. They felt more like close friends than boyfriend/girlfriend, and I really liked seeing that. It felt more organic that way.

Aunt May

Marisa Tomei as Aunt May
Source: Marvel Wiki

I liked the relationship between Peter and Aunt May a lot. I found it very sweet. I also appreciated that she became Peter’s reason for later acting the way he did.

I loved that she was always there for him, even trying to help him in battle despite having no powers whatsoever! It was cool to see her go in there, armed with only her wits and whatever object she could find.

I really felt bad for what she went through but – even though it was bad – she never lost that smile and her love for Peter. It made the entire story have a lot more emotional weight than it would have otherwise, and I liked seeing how much she really cared about him.

Ned Leeds

Jacob Batalon as Ned
Source: Marvel Wiki

This kid just came off as Mr. Innocent to me. He’s largely played as comic relief, but he actually does things that contribute to the plot as well.

I particularly liked how, early on in the film, he talks to Dr. Strange about how his family might be magical, and that’s paid off later on in the film with him learning to use Strange’s Sling Ring!

Some of his quips were really funny, too, such as when he ripped up his college rejection letter, only to realize he had to show it to his parents! He was just really cute and charming throughout the entire thing, and his overall character arc was very enjoyable to see!

Doctor Strange

Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange
Source: Comicbook.com

I remember getting all excited in the theater when Peter went to the Sanctum Sanctorum for the first time. Seeing Doctor Strange appear again, and seeing how he’s grown since his first theatrical appearance was great!

As usual, Benedict Cumberbatch plays him as the kind of arrogant and snobby doctor he is, but this time he has so much more respect for the magic he’s working with. I haven’t seen any of his other Marvel appearances, so I really only have Doctor Strange (2016) to use as reference.

Just based off of that, though, I can see how Strange has grown and changed. He is a million times more powerful than he was in his first appearance, and he has a healthy respect for what he’s working with. On top of that, his concern for Peter as the story progresses is great to see. He kind of came off like a strict parent, not really trusting that the kid knew what he was dealing with, and it was funny to me!

Dr. Otto Octavius

Alfred Molina as Dr. Otto Octavius
Source: Inverse

Okay, Dr. Octavius was technically the first villain Peter had to face from out of the multiverse, so his reaction to this Peter not being his Peter was pretty confusing to me. A little bit later, that’s explained, but I remember thinking, “Wait? Is that not the actor playing Spider-Man we’ve seen the whole movie?”

Anyway, I wanted to mention Otto, not because he’s the first villain from the multiverse we see, but because I found I actually really liked him once he was cured of his villainy (he’s the first to be injected with the cure).

He has some genuinely nice moments once that happens. I liked that he helped Peter with no hesitation whatsoever. I’m glad they didn’t do that with all the villains, though. You don’t want all the conflict to disappear. But still, it was nice to see it with him.

Norman Osborn

Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn
Source: Heroic Hollywood

Okay, can Willem Dafoe give me a crash course on how he plays his more sinister characters? First Ryuk from Death Note and now Norman Osborn!

Joking aside, I really like how Willem Dafoe plays Norman Osborn and his two separate personalities. When he’s Norman, he seems so helpless and lost, like he doesn’t know what to do with himself. When the other side takes over, though, he is wonderfully evil, just the kind of bad guy you love to hate because he’s so menacing!

I will admit, his more evil side had me praying that Peter would get revenge on him. He’s so powerful when he’s the villain that I really wanted to see him get taken down a peg. What he put Peter through was absolutely inexcusable, and I couldn’t wait to see him get a taste of his own medicine!

Action Sequences

I admit, I had fun with the action sequences in this movie.

One of my favorites is the one between Peter and Doctor Strange, as there were some wonderful callbacks to Strange’s own movie, and it was fun seeing Peter actually figure out how to outsmart him!

I loved that the action sequences started on smaller scales, getting bigger and bigger with each fight. It was interesting to see how each setting changed as more characters got involved and more happened.

The action, in the style of Marvel movies, was chaotic given that there were explosions and things breaking throughout. It was a little hard to focus at first because of all those distractions of so many things happening at once. It’s why I’m glad that the first fight on that type of scale is only between two people. It was easier to follow and it made the larger battles easier to follow later on.

Music

The music for this movie was wonderful. Each song accentuated the scene it was in perfectly, and it elicited emotional responses from me that fit what was going on.

One that I remember off the top of my head is the musical cue that plays right before Peter is about to go into the Sanctum Sanctorum. It brought me right back to Doctor Strange, which is what it needed to do.

I also want to give mention to one of the more sinister tracks that plays when Norman’s evil persona first comes out. I was very tense during that scene in part because of the music, and it fit what was being said and done perfectly!

Special Effects

Rhys Ifans as The Lizard
Source: The Direct

So, given that this film had Doctor Strange in it, I was expecting some of the special effects to be trippy. This especially showed when Peter was fighting him in the Mirror Dimension.

The effects for some of the monsters (particularly the lizard monster and the Sandman) were really interesting to see. It was also pretty cool to see how the Sandman looked, even though I didn’t know who both villains were at first.

I also liked seeing the effects involving the Sling Ring again and the portals that were opened because they were different from the locations shown in Doctor Strange. It was cool seeing Ned and MJ learn to use the Ring and the absolute chaos and hilarity that followed. It was really cool!

Conclusion

Honestly, I really enjoyed myself with this. Now I just want to go back and watch the other Marvel Spider-Man installments and fill in some of the blanks. That’s how much fun I had!

I don’t know how much longer it is going to be in theaters but – if you’re into Marvel and you like Spider-Man – I say, what are you waiting for? This movie is definitely not one to miss out on!

It’s fun, funny, full of suspense and heart, and the story is amazing. I highly recommend it for anyone who’s into Marvel and wants to see Spider-Man go on another incredible adventure!

By Amber Rizzi

I am a literature geek working toward my Bachelor's in English with a concentration in writing. I love to read, and I'm always itching to write, especially creatively. I started "The Writer's Library" about three years ago, previously working with a Blogger platform before moving over to Wordpress. While I mainly post reviews of books, occasionally I will go ahead and review works in other media forms as well, such as music and certain television shows. No matter what I'm doing on here, I love to share with anyone who is willing to listen, and I'm excited to finally be on Wordpress!

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