After “Avengers: Endgame,” the final chapter of MCU’s Phase 3, spectacular box office success, we bade farewell to several beloved characters (on-screen and, sadly, in real life). And since the pandemic hit the globe, our reality has changed dramatically as well, so does Peter Parker’s world. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” picks up the story after the shocking ending of 2019’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home” in which Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) revealed to the world that Spider-Man is in fact a high school student named Peter Parker (Tom Holland). 

No spoiler but we all know what happens next from the trailers that play on TV, Internet, and billboards endlessly for weeks. Peter asks Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) if he could use magic to make the world forget his true identity. The magic spell then goes wrong, accidentally bringing some iconic villains from the other parallel universes (specifically, from the two previous Spider-Man franchises) including Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Electro (Jamie Foxx), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), and The Lizard (Rhys Ifans).

The movie is extremely and carefully calculated. We all understand it’s a cheesy fan service move, but that is also what makes “Spider-Man: No Way Home” enjoyable. Returning director Jon Watts and the Marvel-Sony-joint-team make a true event movie this time. The Internet is filled with different fan theories; the ads, the news, and literally everyone are counting down the release date; and people will wait in line to watch this epic crossover. I have never seen any movie “this big” in recent, especially in the post-pandemic era. 

With so many characters from Sam Raimi and Marc Webb’s old cinematic universes, I was concerned that the movie is going to be too crowded and fail like the previous “Spider-Man 3 (2007)” or “The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014).” Although “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is indeed very crowded, Watts never moves the narrative spotlight away from our main hero, delivering pure joy while hitting on a few powerful emotional notes. Furthermore, we finally hear the iconic line “With great power comes great responsibility” from an unexpected character, and this time Peter has to grow up and learn the meaning of being a superhero. Despite the message being delivered a little bit late in the third installments (Raimi’s “Spider-Man” completed its journey in the first movie), this time, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” also tries to question the empathy between heroes and villains: What it means to forgive the people who try to kill you? What is the cost of a heroic decision? And does saving people grant you the way of being home again?

I can guarantee fans are going to love the movie and cherish every single moment of watching it, so probably no one will mind that the runtime is unnecessarily too long by trying to explain things too hard and repeating the same plot during its first half. And despite Mauro Fiore’s camera movement being fluid, as well as one of Michael Giacchino’s best scores in his MCU career, the action scenes in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is far from the top except for that jaw-dropping chasing sequence with Doctor Strange and Peter. 

Lately, MCU has been criticized by some great cinema masters such as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Denis Villeneuve, and Ridley Scott for not being willing to take risks. In general, I’ll stand with these masters. However, this time through “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” I come to realize that pulling all these memorable IPs into a sole movie can be seen as a huge risk in a sense. Why do we care so much for these historic heroes and villains from old cinematic universes years ago? Why does the world cheer for their return in tears and screams? And why we all feel connected by experiencing the biggest cinematic event of the year? Maybe the answer is the magic of cinema. Plus, who can forget the heartbreaking yet heartwarming final act that swings Peter back to the home he deserved as a superhero? Perhaps there’s no way home, but for good, he finally feels at home.

GRADE: B

Contact me at jiajinpin@gmail.com.  Follow social at @jjpin

  • Distributer: Columbia Pictures
  • Production: Columbia Pictures, Pascal Pictures, Marvel Studios, and Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • Director: Jon Watts
  • Writer: Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers
  • Producer: Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal
  • Cast: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Jamie Foxx, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei, and J.K. Simmons
  • “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in theaters Dec. 17, 2021

Read the review in Chinese

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