A wild ride through the Spider-Verse

The “Spider-Man” cinematic universe turns in on itself in “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” a wildly fun and surprisingly resonant entry into the Webslinger series.

The culture of spoilers makes it extremely difficult to talk about the film in depth without revealing some big surprises, and the surprises here are worth preserving. But let’s just say that “No Way Home” deals with themes that delve deep into the very nature of comic book heroes and villains, and it serves as a bookend for the last two decades of the “Spider-Man” movies, which were. launched in 2002 and kicked off our modern obsession with superheroes.

It’s hard to imagine the Marvel movies taking over the landscape the way they did without the success of Sam Raimi’s original trilogy of “Spider-Man” films, which brought the genre out of its’ 90s doldrums and looms large. ‘brought to the forefront of Hollywood’s radar.

“No Way Home” is the third “Spider-Man” film starring Tom Holland as Peter Parker, following “Homecoming” in 2017 and “Far From Home” in 2019. (Holland made his character debut in “Captain America: Civil War” in 2016 and he played Parker / Spidey in the last two “Avengers” movies.)

Following his big identity reveal at the end of “Far From Home,” the world – and New York City in particular – now knows that Parker is Spider-Man. This poses major problems for the anonymity he enjoys for the most part, and suddenly the modest apartment in Queens where he lives with his aunt May (Marisa Tomei) is overrun with news crews and helicopters, and his school wants to turn its last year into a side show.

Benedict Cumberbatch, left, and Tom Holland in Columbia Pictures'

But what annoys Parker the most is the way it affects his friends. Due to their affiliations with the crime fighter and the resulting notoriety, MIT denies the confessions of his girlfriend, MJ (Zendaya), and his best friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon), let alone him- even, spoiling their plans to study together after high school. . (I must love a superhero on a college path.)

Since he’s an Avenger, Parker contacts his colleague Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) – it’s worth having friends in high places – and asks him to create a spell to undo all of this where his cover is blown and it does. badly upset the lives of those close to them. Reluctantly, Strange agrees. But Parker continues to correct himself as Strange casts the spell, creating hiccups in the magic – the mechanics of this are all a bit sloppy – and a wormhole in the Spidey-time continuum is opened.

Parker soon comes face to face with Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus, who faced off against Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man in 2004’s “Spider-Man 2”. But rather than just deal with it, Doc Ock admits he doesn’t. not recognize Parker, an outward recognition of the various scenarios (and Spider-Men) in the world of “Spider-Man”. Jai guru deva om, they suddenly travel through the multiverse, and anything is possible.

Alfred Molina as Doc Ock in Columbia Pictures'

Doc Ock is not the only one to appear from the past, but in the interests of national security it is not fair to say more. But what’s going on goes beyond simple fan service, and it goes to the heart of the “Spider-Man” series – both on-screen and off-screen – and to the heart of what thrills the crowd. both the franchise and the character of Peter Parker himself.

The gargantuan achievement and success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which allowed a large number of characters to move freely in and out of each other’s films, helped lay the groundwork for “No Way Home,” and Screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers go one step further by blowing up the timeline of the “Spider-Man” franchise and picking up the pieces to see how they can put them back together.

And it goes beyond just a fantastic reservation: “No Way Home” gives its characters a chance to live, breathe and interact with each other, and what comes out of it is both a blink of an eye. a playful eye as well as a moving rumination on the great power / great thread of responsibility that has been a constant in the series, and which shapes Parker’s character consciousness and the whole “Spider-Man” ideology.

Holland, whose on-screen work has struggled outside of Spider-Man’s realm (particularly in “Cherry” and “Chaos Walking”), is perfectly at home here, imbuing his Parker / Spidey with cuteness, heart and heroism. This is his best performance in the role to date.

Director Jon Watts, who has also helmed the show’s previous two chapters, mixes humor, action, and human moments well, and he moves the film forward with agility, despite being nearly two and a half hours long. . “No Way Home” tackles fate and redemption, life and death, good and evil and transforms them all into a lasting web, which its main character uses to swing freely through the air and , when the time comes, land firmly on your feet. This great story is a real treat: any gift, no curse.

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@grahamorama

“Spider-Man: No Way Home”

NOTE: B +

Rated PG-13: for action / violence sequences, language and brief suggestive comments

Run Time: 148 minutes

In theaters


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