“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is a high stakes, action-packed adventure that will blow your mind

Jon Watts delivers on expectations to make the greatest Spider-Man film to date


“Spider-Man: No Way Home” left viewers speechless, to say the least. It is high stakes, it is tragic and most of all, it is incredibly bittersweet. 

Ever since the Spider-Man comics first came out in the 1960s, Peter Parker has always faced dire consequences for trying to live his fictional life with an alter-ego. He is in a constant struggle trying to balance his secret identity and his superhero life, and while previous Watts films “Homecoming” and “Far From Home” explored some aspects of Parker’s lifestyle issues, none so far – besides, perhaps, Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 – have gone so deep into the question of what it truly means to wear the mask.

The story started off with a bang, as Peter Parker’s (played by Tom Holland) Spider-Man identity is revealed to the world by “Far From Home” villain Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). This has grace consequences on the lives of his love interest MJ (Zendaya), best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), who, along with Parker, face harassment from an enraged public. 

Parker initially puts up with the harassment, but when MJ and Ned’s applications to MIT are rejected because of their connection to him, he snaps and decides to consult fellow superhuman Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for help. Dr. Strange casts a spell to make the world forget about Parker’s alter-ego, but Parker tries to modifiy the spell so MJ, Ned and Aunt May will remember Spider-Man’s true identity. This corrupts Strange’s spell, however, and while Strange prevents the spell from fully taking effect, it still partially activates, bringing Spider-Man villains from past movie franchises into the current universe. These include characters like the Green Goblin (Willam Dafoe), Electro (Jamie Foxx) and Dr. Octopus (Alfred Molina), among others. As for the rest of the story, well, you can find out what happens for yourself in theaters. 

The individual characters have varied acting performances, with the best performance clearly coming from Dafoe. While his Green Goblin character came off as somewhat non-sequitur and confusing in the 2002 Spider-Man, this version of the character is much more developed, angry and vicious. He is arguably one of the best villains in the Marvel films thus far, comparable to the likes of “Black Panther’s Erik Killmonger or perhaps “Thor: Ragnarok’s Hela. Dafoe performed his own stunts, a highly impressive feat for a 66 year old actor. He has some great monologues during the film that cement his status as a great Marvel villain as well as the best actor in the film.

Holland has a mature air to him in this film; while previous scripts wrote his character to come across as immature in “Homecoming” and “Far From Home,” this film’s writing went into a far more serious aspect of Parker’s persona, and Holland’s acting performance matches the writing’s gravity. He does a great job, and you can see Parker’s emotional development in his facial expressions alone throughout the movie. The shift in character from beginning to end is simply the best part about “No Way Home”s Spider-Man character. 

While the visuals were nothing special compared to the rest of the high-budget Marvel films, they had a real consistency to them, unlike some previous films like the previous “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” The fights were great and the choreography was on point. It is a minor detail, but what really made the film’s choreography stand out were the several references to the 2018 “Spider-Man” video game on Playstation that were hidden in the choreography. One fight scene in particular between Green Goblin and Spider-Man was almost identical to a scene in the video game, punch-for-punch. 

When it comes to the supporting cast, their performances were also great. Zendaya’s performance as MJ certainly improved from previous films, while Batalon’s Ned had some interesting moments of character development. 

In terms of the supporting villains, Alfred Molina did an amazing job of reprising his role as Doctor Otto Octavius, or Dr. Octopus. Molina has not portrayed this role since “Spider-Man 2 in 2004, where his performance was more or less mediocre. However, his performance in “No Way Home” was considerably better at portraying Octavius’s tragic circumstances and his positive demeanor before his descent into insanity. Octavius’s writing is representative for most of the cast; The writing and acting went hand in hand for nearly every character; it is more or less kismet.

All in all, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” was a bittersweet conclusion to Holland’s trilogy as Spider-Man. A second, subsequent trilogy is reportedly in development, according to producer Amy Pascal, and we can only hope subsequent movies can match the excellent writing and cast of “No Way Home.”