First Spider-Man: No Way Home reviews suggest it's one of the best Spidey movies to date
As bodies trickled out of early screenings for Spider-Man: No Way Home, the culmination of Tom Holland's first Spider-Man movie trilogy, critics and press began publishing the first reviews of Marvel and Sony's latest superhero bash.
Already No Way Home, returning the lead stars and crew of previous installments Homecoming and Far From Home, is being pegged as one of the best Spider-Man movies to date. With 46 reviews from critics logged on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, the title (at the time this article was published) touted a 100-percent "Fresh" rating, while writers like Deadline's Pete Hammond hailed the release as "truly one of the year's best movies."
It's important to acknowledge that Rotten Tomatoes score is forever fluid as more and more critics share their experiences, but it's certainly a good start.
No Way Home, directed by Jon Watts and returning Zendaya as MJ and Jacob Batalon as Ned, sees what it's like for Peter Parker (Holland) to have his superhero identity known to the entire world. Spoiler alert: It's not great, Bob. The teen wall-crawler pleads with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to use magic to fix the situation, but the sorcerer's spell to make most of the world forget he's Spider-Man backfires.
Instead, figures from other dimensions in the multiverse who know Peter Parker is Spider-Man are pulled into their reality. That means Holland's Spidey, a product of the Disney-owned Marvel Cinematic Universe and the producers at Sony, gets to meet characters like Alfred Molina's Doc Ock, Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin, and Jamie Foxx's Electro — people from Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's era of Spider-Man movies.
Entertainment Weekly's own Leah Greenblatt praised the film for delivering "some of the best and by far the most meta stuff Marvel has done," noting it's "tender and funny and a little bit devastating."
Still, this corporate fandom explosion didn't sit well with all critics thus far. Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson notes "so much brand Frankensteining," while The Hollywood Reporter's John Defore states the fan service is sometimes "unsubtle enough you expect an actor to look into the camera and wink at you after delivering his line."
"Despite all the clutter and the chaos, Spider-Man: No Way Home manages to bring it — well — home, for Holland's Peter Parker," SlashFilm's Hoai-Tran Bui writes.
Read more of the first No Way Home reviews below. The film opens in theaters this Friday.
Leah Greenblatt (Entertainment Weekly)
"The way that the movie eventually manages to pull it all into focus feels both obvious and ingenious, though pretty much everything that happens after the 40-minute mark is a spoiler that early title cards and even a recorded pre-show entreaty from the cast beg you not to share. At just under two and a half hours, that leaves a lot. So it's safer maybe just to say that what seems at first like pure fan service turns out to be some of the best and by far the most meta stuff Marvel has done: tender and funny and a little bit devastating. (There were audible sobs in the theater at an industry screening.) It's also Holland's last time in the suit (unless it isn't); if and when Peter makes his way home, maybe this bigger, broader Spider-Verse will find a new way — or a new form altogether — to get him there."
Pete Hammond (Deadline)
"This movie does what the best movies always do: They thrill you and move you and make you want to cheer in a crowded theatre. In light of the pandemic this movie is a holiday gift not only to moviegoers, but also to exhibitors, because if EVER there was a film poised to save the movie business — just like Spidey always saves the day — it is this splendidly-crafted endgame. Jon Watts, the wunderkind director discovered via the superb indie Cop Car, once again weaves his own magic on the series and creates, with the help of screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Summers, not just the best pic yet in the Spider-Man series, but truly one of the year's best movies."
John Defore (The Hollywood Reporter)
"Some of the fan service plays fairly well here; some is unsubtle enough you expect an actor to look into the camera and wink at you after delivering his line. But in the end, No Way Home does use its multiversal mayhem to address the only real problem with the Holland-era webslinger: the Iron Man-ification of the character, in which his already amazing powers keep getting overshadowed by the gadgets given to him by billionaire jerk-hero Tony Stark. This is the least fun of the Watts/Holland pictures by a wide margin (intentionally so, to some extent), but it's a hell of a lot better than the last Spidey threequel, Sam Raimi's overstuffed and ill-conceived Spider-Man 3."
Alonso Duralde (TheWrap)
"Of all the superhero movies currently on the market, the adventures of Spider-Man and his pals have always seemed most closely tethered to a recognizable, relatable reality, perhaps because they tell a story about high-school kids rather than demigods or aliens or obsessed billionaires. And even as Dr. Strange once again transforms Manhattan into an M.C. Escher landscape, this is ultimately a story about high-school seniors in love, wondering if they and their best buddy will get to go to college together. The returning team of director Jon Watts and writers Chris McKenna and Erik Somers give the trio of appealing young leads the ability to make their sweet and funny kid stuff the nucleus around which all the interdimensional travel and superhero standoffs rotate. And the superhero stuff is tons of fun, make no mistake."
Amelia Emberwing (IGN)
"Once-in-a-lifetime films are pipe dreams for most studios, yet, here's Marvel showing off the fact that they have us all in the palm of their hands yet again. Spider-Man: No Way Home is somehow a perfect harmony of a Saturday morning cartoon and the deep drama that we've come to expect from these epics. You'll find no spoilers here, but the film will remind you repeatedly that there are a whole lot of reasons that Sony and Marvel kept the details of this one as close to the vest as possible."
Richard Lawson (Vanity Fair)
"What I will say is that director Jon Watts handles this grand convergence of properties old and current with enough verve to almost sustain the long run of the film. But there's so much brand Frankensteining to be done that there's really no time for quirk and texture; much of the bounce and sparkle of the past two Holland films is lost. The series' typically winning performances — from Holland, Zendaya, Marisa Tomei and others — similarly suffer. Here, the actors are tasked simply with tucking their heads down and holding this unwieldy thing together; less winning performers would no doubt have struggled more. Holland is at least given some heavier material than normal, which he lifts with a superhero's ease."
Kate Erbland (IndieWire)
"For far too long, the fate of the entire universe has dangled in the balance during Marvel's many cinematic outings, and while No Way Home goes so far as to add in multiverses and the possibility that the very 'fabric of reality' will forever tear, there's still something charmingly small-scale about this film. It's personal, and that's a theme and an idea that is only further hammered home as the film zips through its first act, starts to slow down in its second, and completely nails the whole damn thing by its eye-popping final 40 minutes."
Hoai-Tran Bui (SlashFilm)
"There's a lot to be nervous about with Spider-Man: No Way Home, a film tasked with bridging the gap between the Marvel and Sony Spider-universes, introducing a novel concept (the multiverse) to the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and following up that whopper of a cliffhanger from Far From Home, in which Spider-Man's secret identity was revealed to the entire world. It's a miracle that the movie has any time for Peter Parker at all. But despite all the clutter and the chaos, Spider-Man: No Way Home manages to bring it — well — home, for Holland's Peter Parker. And it does it by looking back at the past and grappling with the legacy of Spider-Man, both in-universe and out (pun intended)."
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