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Review | Spider-Man: No Way Home — A grand reunion

Published:Saturday | December 18, 2021 | 12:06 AMDamian Levy/Gleaner Writer - -
Tom Holland (right) and Zendaya take the lead in ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’.
Tom Holland (right) and Zendaya take the lead in ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’.
Benedict Cumberbatch (left), and Tom Holland in Columbia Pictures’ ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’.
Benedict Cumberbatch (left), and Tom Holland in Columbia Pictures’ ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’.

The last two years have been tension-filled for cinemas and cinema lovers. We have all watched with bated breath to see the theatres we spent so many summers in weather the storm of stagnant business. Films have been sold on their ability to deliver a once-in-a-lifetime cinema experience. The Titans have battled, Bond came back, and the Matrix will somehow be resurrected. Now, as the year comes to a close, your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man has returned to give audiences a reason to go back to the cinemas.

Yet, the film’s reunion isn’t quite as romantic. Spider-Man: No Way Home sees Peter Parker facing the demons of his past. Well, sort of. Demons of Peter Parker, just not the one played so nervously by Tom Holland. How they get there is a mix of Doctor Strange’s magic and Peter Parker’s idiocy. Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, and Jamie Foxx are among the most frequent familiar faces, yet there’s a slight disconnect. It’s fun to see their characters played once again by their original actors, but they can sometimes feel out of place.

The characters shine when the movie plays to their strengths. Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus have some of the film’s most tender moments, carrying with them the sincerity of their original roles. Without the baggage of their villainy to cloud his judgement, Peter opts for pacifism over punches. The conflict is driven by his unconscionable need to do the right thing, no matter how difficult. No Way Home might swing past the development of its plot, but, once the pieces are all on the board, it starts to come together brilliantly.

The drama in the film is some of the best yet in a Spider-Man movie. Never have the stakes been so well established for both the character and the world they protect. As Peter navigates the world without his precious anonymity, the film plays with the idea of identity. As a man leading two lives, Peter aims to unmask them and reveal the goodness within. His quest in the film is noble and leads to some moving character-defining moments.

There is not a single scene in No Way Home that is not compelling. The humour isn’t 100 per cent. Some of the dialogue feels awkward and forced, but, when it’s coming from characters you’ve wanted to see in conversation for more than a decade, you don’t exactly mind. The things it achieves more than make up for its missteps. After my first viewing, it’s definitely a big-screen watch. We’ll see how I feel after the scheduled second, third, and fourth.

Rating: Big Screen Watch

Damian Levy is a film critic and podcaster for Damian Michael Movies.