Don’t worry folks, no spoilers here. Aside from mentioning things already seen in the trailers, this review is giving nothing major away.
I’ve actually been pondering whether or not I should even do this review for a few days now. See, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a very tricky film to talk about without spoiling anything. There really is a lot to unpack here that I can’t mention as to not spoil anything. So this’ll have to be a very vague review that’s lacking a lot of details.
When it comes to the MCU, as much as I admire the immense talent and work involved in it, I’m not a die-hard fan. I’ve actually not seen more MCU films than I have seen. I do know a bit about the source material without being a ‘comic book nerd’. So I’m familiar with the characters and universe but without being fan-obsessed by it. When it comes to superhero films, I can take or leave them, to be honest.
Yet, there’s always been something about Spider-Man as a character that I personally have always felt worked better than any other superhero. I think it’s a relatable thing. I mean, I’ve never been an alien, a multi-billionaire, a literal god and so on. Yet I have been a teenager struggling to understand the world and my life. And I think that’s a big part of the appeal of the Peter Parker/Spider-Man character. He’s a kid under that suit and even though he’s saved the world… he still goes to school.
With Spider-Man: No Way Home, you get a lot of that ‘reality’ and begin to feel a lot of the pathos that the character brings. Spider-Man is a kid and Tom Holland plays that part of him marvellously. He’s far from perfect, he gets confused and he most definitely makes mistakes. All of that happens in this film and you can sympathise with a teenager struggling to maintain their life around being a superhero more than you can someone like Tony Stark and his billionaire world.
This film picks up right where the previous film ended, with J. Jonah Jameson revealing that Peter Parker is Spider-Man and him also being outed as killing Mysterio at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Of course, this causes mass hysteria and Parker’s life is thrown into turmoil for not just being outed as Spider-Man but also now believed as to being a murderer.
Desperate for help, Peter Parker seeks out Doctor Strange and convinces him to cast a spell so that the world forgets that he is Spider-Man. As Strange is casting the spell, Parker keeps interrupting and asks to make numerous amendments so that MJ, Ned and Aunt May still remember that he is Spider-Man. These interruptions cause the spell to go wrong and opens up the multiverse.
From then, villains from other Spider-verses begin to appear in Peter Parker’s world. The likes of Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Sandman, Lizard and Electro turn up and Spider-Man is left to try and get things back to normal.
Obviously, there is quite a lot more of the plot to delve into… I’m just not doing that here. What I found interesting while watching Spider-Man: No Way Home was seeing how many of the fan theories were right and how many were wrong. I avoided as much about this film as I could before seeing it. I only watched the first trailer. But for the last few weeks, there have been all sorts of articles popping up from notable sites sharing various social media fan theories. As I said, it was interesting to see how right and wrong the fans were.
As for the film itself, you’ve got your usual MCU mix of action, drama and humour. Going into this film and knowing there were five villains (revealed in the trailers), I thought that was a bit overkill and could make the film feel over-bloated. Yet, if there is one thing the MCU writers have proven more than once, it is that they can really handle ensemble cast stories like this.
What could’ve been a very messy film ends up brilliantly crafted. The backstories of all the villains are handled well with some pretty sharp and clever dialogue. Parallels between events and histories of the characters are mentioned and dealt with in a way that forwards the main plot, while also working as a reminder for people who know of the other universes they are from. And yet, the writing is so well done that even if you don’t know who these characters are, you’re brought up to speed very quickly and it never feels intrusive or forced. The villains have little bits of banter between them that keeps the flow of the film moving, even when stopping to get all that exposition out of the way.
Tom Holland proves how great he really is in the role here. Having to deal with some pretty astounding action and fight scenes, while also conveying some heavy, raw emotion during some of the non-action scenes. There are moments in Spider-Man: No Way Home that really do hit home that this Peter Parker kid is just that, a kid. This could almost be seen as a ‘coming of age’ story as by the time the end credits roll, you really get the feeling that Peter Parker’s life has changed massively and the future of Spider-Man is blown way open. In fact, this feels more like a Peter Parker film than a Spider-Man one. There’s a definite evolution of the character here and I think it’ll be really interesting to see just what Sony and Marvel have in store for the web-slinger from this point onwards.
Everybody playing the villains here brings their A-game. Alfred Molina as Doc Ock is simply brilliant… but he is really blown off the screen by Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. Seeing these two on screen together though is utter bliss. Not just in terms of acting, but their characters finally meeting after so many years is amazing. They are also the two of the five villains that really do move the plot forward.
Thomas Haden Church’s Sandman and Rhys Ifans’ The Lizard are characters that perhaps don’t get used as much as the other two and save for the final big fight, they really don’t have a great deal to do in terms of the main plot. Then there’s Jamie Foxx as Electro. When it comes to plot development, he’s more like the latter two villains, in that he doesn’t have as much to do as the former two. But he is also the funniest and the one that I couldn’t help but fall in love with quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he’s a useless comic foil, he actually kicks some serious bum-cheeks. But he is the funniest of the five and that really helped to make him very memorable.
For me, someone who really expected this to be a bit of a mess, I was impressed with just how tight Spider-Man: No Way Home was. Discounting the credits, the film has a runtime of around two-hours and fifteen minutes (give or take). I never felt that the film dragged in any way and the two-hour-plus runtime blisters along. Even when the film does ease up on its pacing, it never felt slow at all and this is most definitely well worth a watch.
Of course, there is a lot of fan-service as the nods and references come thick and fast. Some work well, some really do feel a bit forced, yet nothing ever derails the story of the film. There are two credit scenes. One kind of ties up an interesting development from another credit scene from another film… while also setting up a huge possibility. The second is really just a trailer for the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness film coming next year.
With Spider-Man: No Way Home now released and plans for not only more Spider-Man in the MCU but also Sony creating a Spider-verse (Venom, Morbius and more)… there’s really a lot to look forwards to in terms of the Spider-Man character. But yeah, this film was great. A fantastic way to round off the trilogy, while opening up for so much more to come. Go watch it.