Sunday, May 26, 2024

Review: “Spider Man: No Way Home” Is the Blockbuster (Yet Sad) Ending to Tom Holland’s First Trilogy



I guess it’s safe to say that everything you’ve heard about “Spider Man: No Way Home” is true, and then some. For the third part of his trilogy starring Tom Holland, Jon Watts has thrown in everything but the kitchen sink. The only thing missing, really, is the original “Spider Man” music. I always remember I think in Tobey Maguire‘s second film that music being played on violin. Other than that, everything you can imagine has been stuffed into this two and a half hour blockbuster.

Is “No Way Home” long? Yes. It didn’t have to be, but it takes time to scatter Easter eggs on the lawn of a movie. And there are a lot of them. I’m not allowed to say what they are, but you can kind of guess. And even, not really. Suffice to say, when Dr. Strange, played by potential Oscar nominee from another movie Benedict Cumberbatch, unleashes the multi-verse by accident — similar to Aunt Clara making a bad potion on “Bewitched” — we are reunited with a lot of old friends.

The spoilers are, I can’t tell you what these people do or how much they do it. But it’s a lot.

You do know that a lot of villains come pouring out of the woodwork from the seven previous “Spider Man” movies. They are played with gusto by Alfred Molina, Willem Dafoe, and Jamie Foxx. There are several others and you’ll be happy to see them, although Peter Parker and Dr. Strange are not, and have to deal with them quickly.

This is the crux of the movie: send all these visitors from other universes back where they will have died already, or rehabilitate them for better lives. Peter, who still insists he’s 17 (Holland is 25) and remains naive after two movies in this series, thinks that can happen. Is it possible? As Dr. Strange notes, he’s still a kid.

Here are some takeaways from “No Way Home”: Zendaya, who plays MJ, is a star. I said that after “Malcolm and Marie,” but she’s headed for really big things. Holland is, too, if he can make the jump from “Spider Man.” He actually reminds me of the young Mickey Rooney, which is a huge compliment.What I really got out of this is that Amy Pascal, the producer of these films, is a genius. That Kevin Feige really knows how to make these Marvel films work like Swiss clocks.

All the guest stars are top notch, although I must say that seeing Alfred Molina return to the fold was a kick, he is brilliant. Ditto Willem Dafoe. The two of them came from the first trilogy with Tobey Maguire and still play off each other as if it were all fresh. Jamie Foxx is a force of nature. And he does get in a line about never expecting to see a Black Spider Man. Well, maybe one day.

The movie has a substantial bit of Dr. Strange, so it’s Cumberbatch Season what with “The Power of the Dog.” He’s been a little bit of a slow starter but at this point you can say that BC is a Movie Star. He’s also an actor’s actor. It’s time he came to New York theater. He’s really found the groove to make this super hero stuff seem like it’s damn important.

Marisa Tomei gets more to do here than in the first two Holland films, and that’s always a good thing. It’s also time for her to get back to making Oscar level movies.

There’s some snappy writing thanks to Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers’ script. I don’t know if someone punched it up with jokes, but I laughed out loud a few times. The Feige method is to make Marvel superheroes glib and fast on their feet with one liners. It works.

Do I wish this audience would go see “West Side Story”‘ and “Belfast”? Yes, please. If your theater is sold out for “Spider Man,” try one of those. Do I wihs I could tell you more? I do, because there is a fun story arc and a sad one, and if you like this stuff you will smile and tear up. But that’s all I can say until after the weekend is over.

And no, no one falls off a Peloton bike to their doom.

PS As with all Marvel movies, you must sit through the credits to the very end. There are two PS scenes and the second one is like its own movie. Don’t leave!

Prediction addendum: “Spider Man” will save movie theaters. See my next story on this movie. It’s already selling out for Thursday previews everywhere.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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