Spider-Man: No Way Home Review

With a grand ensemble like this, it is clear to see that director Jon Watts is acting on the orders of Marvel. Cram the well-refined characters of the Sam Raimi universe and the not-so intensified versions of the Andrew Garfield features into the Marvel meat grinder. Chow down on a big bowl of nostalgia, where once defined characters come together for a big, boring blowout. The Multiverse was hyped up long before Spider-Man: No Way Home was ever announced, yet it is still, in the words of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) something we know “frighteningly little” about.  

Happenstance occurrences are the bread and butter of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which tries too much and offers nothing at all. MIT applications burrow into a relatively normal and diluted life for Peter Parker (Tom Holland), whose life doesn’t seem to have had much change since being uncovered as Spider-Man. But there is no time for change in the Marvel realm because that would imply risk. Their impertinent need to throw in the “humour” and balance it out with knowing moments of peddled fan service is bleak and dull. Alfred Molina handles it best of all, perhaps because his work in Spider-Man 2 was the most colourful and responsive of performances to the throes of the superhero narrative. Entertaining his opening fight scene with Holland may be, it is not enough to campaign for or actively cheer on the changes made to his character, and, by extension, Raimi’s narrative.  

Pace-breaking humour is only a slight issue for Spider-Man: No Way Home. Most of it will depend on Andrew Garfield, Holland and Tobey Maguire interacting with one another. That is the issue though. That slight, aforementioned humour issue is the only interaction between these Spider-Men. Clumsy explosions that are poorly contained light shows make up most of the action. It is nothing out of the ordinary for the twenty-plus films in the series so far. Jamie Foxx and Thomas Haden Church appear for the usual routine of sudden encounters, quick bits of comedy and a twist that’ll have consequences for the future. What a ride, what a rush. It’s all the same for these characters. At least Willem Dafoe gives a strong performance. When does he not, though? A rambling old fool in Spider-Man: No Way Home compared to the brilliant-but-disengaged mind within Spider-Man. Dafoe is the only change that’s at the very least, interesting.  

Keen eyes and ears may wonder why clear antagonists are now breaching the path of villainy to help or be helped by Spider-Man. It’s one of the many delightful, dumb red herrings offered up by Spider-Man: No Way Home. Audiences who have done their homework will know the villainous intentions of the characters that Holland has just got to help. It makes little sense for this third Spider-Man feature and buries the intentions of early works that got Marvel to this point. Who cares, Dafoe says he’s something of a scientist himself. Applaud the funny throwback, gloss over the glaring plotholes.  

There may be no way home for Spider-Man, but there’s no direction home either. One of the immediate issues for Spider-Man: No Way Home is its dependency on nostalgia and nothing more. Why conjure up something new when you can drag in the old? No unique creation is needed when you can slam Talking Heads’ I, Zimbra on your opening scene and throw enough dialogue at the wall to confuse or distract unknowing audiences from the fluffy story and lack of depth within. Any questions raised about the quality are shunted away with a Willem Dafoe here or an Andrew Garfield there. GoodfellasDaredevil and all the old tropes of the Spider-Men that came before it. Any detail put into Spider-Man: No Way Home relies on homemade notes from a decade of learning. Throw it all out, because the changes made are hauntingly dull. Machine-made bits of fodder that will appeal to those distracted by kaleidoscopes or bits of tinfoil. 

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