Spider-Man: No Way Home

Jon Watts’ latest instalment in the Spider-Man franchise is big and loud and overstuffed, perhaps a little more convoluted and ambitious than it needs to be. But it is also bursting with creativity, humour, impressive action and has taken a huge risk by radically broken the fourth wall by incorporating the three leads of the property from the last twenty years into the one film. And it works! It was a little silly but the film knows that and it was just fun to watch the three, very different interpretations of the character bounce off each other. More than anything else, this is a great action movie and the battle sequences incorporating the different villains with their respective superpowers is exactly what’s called for in something like this and it’s executed phenomenally.

Following on from the events of “Spider-Man: Far From Home”, Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) identity as Spider-Man has been exposed and the world now knows that he is responsible for the murder of the superhero Quentin Beck. Peter has lost his anonymity and the lives of his friends and family are beginning to be infiltrated by the media, and he, his giflriend MJ (Zendaya) and best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) are rejected from MIT because of all the bad press. Not sure how to handle this, Peter approaches Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for him to cast a spell to make the world forget that he is Spider-Man, but corrupts the spell by continuing to made amendments to it mid-cast. Instead of making the world forget Peter Parker, instead the multi-verse is cracked open and the Spider-Mans from other worlds (Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield) and the villains from the other worlds (Alfred Molina as Otto Octavius, William Dafoe as the Green Goblin, Rhys Ifans as Lizard, Jamie Foxx as Electro and Thomas Haden Church as Sandman) spill out. Holland Spider-Man wants to try and redeem the villains, to bring them back to the men they were before they became monsters, but meanwhile, he, the other Spideys, MJ and Ned have to try and contain them as they cause mischief all over the city.

Jon Watts knows very well that bringing the three Spider-Mans into the same film as well as their accompanying villains (who we all thought had been blown up or electrocuted or sliced in half by a hover craft) will send hordes of Comic-Con enthusiasts into fits of spidey-gasms. The introductions of each character is dramatic and accompanied by a good few (very deliberate) seconds without dialogue to allow for the audiences to scream and lose their minds in the cinemas. Watts has taken the time to make sure that the three of them have some proper conversations, and it’s kind of cool watching three different versions of the one person reveal things to the other in a couple of pretty touching little scenes that they absolutely wouldn’t have revealed to anybody else. I think they’re in the film for just the right amount of screen time, because this is still Tom Holland’s show and too much would have felt confusing and disingenuous. Having that many of the villains in the one film though probably was a little heavy handed and hard to keep track of, and its definitely more in keeping with the Marvel universe where there are multiple central characters front and centre. It was exciting to see Octavius and the Green Goblin back in fine form again, but Lizard, Electro and Sandman probably weren’t necessary and its obvious that most of their screen time was making sure that they were all getting their fair share.

Holland has definitely grown on me; I can remember reviewing “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and saying that he wasn’t quite right as Spider-Man. I still do prefer Tobey Maguire, but Holland definitely works better with Watts as a director, because these are definitely lighter, more comedic interpretations of the source material and Holland is a more contemporary superhero. In saying that though, he’s not a bad dramatic actor either and there are a couple of more serious moments where he holds his own beautifully. He has this very particular way of stuttering and speaking very quickly when he’s upset as he tries to reassure himself or whoever is in trouble that things will be okay, and its a really nice little technique because it’s exactly how people do act when they’re overwhelmed and scared.

The latest films starring Tom Holland as Spider-Man are definitely much lighter in tone and much more tongue-in-cheek than those of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, and seeing the actors all working off this one new style was a little jarring (I was reminded of that Family Guy/ Simpsons crossover where Seth MacFarlane wrote the episode and seeing his words come out of Homer Simpson’s mouth just didn’t quite sit right). But, for what it is – this is a lighthearted, good-natured instalment with some impressive action, well timed humour and is true to the world that Jon Watts has sought to establish, and the sort of thing in which both hard core fans and those looking for a solid couple of hours of easy, fun entertainment will absolutely find common ground.

By Jock Lehman

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