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Spider-Man : No Way Home Review : An Amazing Achievement

Comes much closer than “Star Wars” at nailing the profusion of fan-service and solid stand-aloneness

Sony Pictures

With it’s drive to wrap Jon Watt’s recent Spider-Man film series as well as celebrate two decades of web-slinger movies, (the character first appeared on the big screen in 2002’s simply-titled Spider-Man from Sam Raimi), Sony’s “Spider-Man : No Way Home” assigns itself the near impossible task of having to please each and every fan of a live-action “Spider-Man” film.

Thanks to a thoughtful script by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, and warm direction by returning helmer Watts, No Way Home comes closer than any film in recent history at achieving that.

If you’ve seen the trailers and art, you’ll know the film brings back some of the villains from the pre-MCU “Spider-Man” movies –  Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and ‘Doc Ock’ (Alfred Molina) from Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films, and The Lizard (Rhys Ifans) and Electro (Jamie Foxx) from Marc Webb’s films. This time, however, the Sinister Five encounter a Peter Parker they’re not familiar with – the one wearing Tom Holland’s face.

The rogues make their bigscreen return via a plot device that sees Peter (Holland) requesting the magical assistance of fellow Avenger Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).

A lot is going wrong in Peter’s life – as well as girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and best friend Ned’s (Jacob Batalon), too – and by having the goateed sorcerer use a spell that would cause most people, except his friends, to forget Spider-Man’s real identity, Parker expects life will go back to normal. Unfortunately, the spell goes awry, and a band of super-villains from other universes suddenly find themselves rumbling with a web-slinger again.

While some will argue that hard-to-nail profusion of fan-service and stand-alone solidness didn’t quite work for the recent “Star Wars” films, Kevin Feige’s mighty Marvel give it a huge, Thor-sized swing with this chunky mini-epic. The result, while understandably not something a superhero film novice, let alone a Spidey newbie will get much of out of, is a Spider-Man fan’s wet, sticky dream. It mightn’t be as grandiose as one of Marvel’s “Avengers” films but producer Amy Pascal’s ambitious Spider-Man crossover also isn’t as distended or solemn. Quite simply, there’s more fun to be had here than in those other films – though there are quite a few emotional moments you won’t see coming.

To say much more about Spider-Man : No Way Home would be spoiling its greatest gift – some unwrapped, unseen surprises that will likely have theater attendees inadvertently making back-flip and first-thump silhouettes in front of the projection booth screen. It’s remarkable that these surprises have stayed concealed for so long but we’re the better of for it – getting the kind of exciting, unforeseen cinematic sanctification we saw before the invention of dial-up internet.

With No Way Home superhero movie fans have been blessed a gripping, tense, fun, heartfelt, surprisingly touching, and very nostalgic love letter to Lee and Ditko’s Amazing Spider-Man.

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