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Spider-Man: No Way Home
Review by Rich Cline | MUST SEE
dir Jon Watts
scr Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
prd Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal
with Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Jamie Foxx, Alfred Molina, Willem Dafoe, JK Simmons, Benedict Wong, Tony Revolori, Andrew Garfield, Tobey Maguire, Charlie Cox, Tom Hardy, Elisabeth Olsen
release US/UK 17.Dec.21
21/US Sony 2h28
Is it streaming?
There's a gleefully free-wheeling pace to this riotous adventure, which picks up right where the last movie ended and propels our hero into rather a lot of brain-bending mayhem. Director Jon Watts keeps the plot in perpetual motion, a refreshing seat-of-the-pants approach that's consistently surprising and entertaining. Fans of the character will be particularly engaged by details that cascade across the screen. And everyone will enjoy the ride.
With his identity no longer a secret and the media treating him as a villain, Peter (Holland) goes into hiding with his Aunt May (Tomei), his girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and best pal Ned (Batalon). Trying to fix things, he approaches Dr Strange (Cumberbatch) to create a spell that will return his anonymity. But this goes horribly wrong, pulling in villains from parallel worlds, including Doc Ock (Molina), Electro (Foxx) and Green Goblin (Dafoe). Instead of simply sending them back to their deaths, Peter wants to cure them. But of course this isn't a simple task.
Whooshing hand-held camera movements accentuate the out-of-control ambience as events pile into each other. Aside from a few overwrought action beats, Watts manages to keep everything bracingly lucid, mixing break-neck intensity, hilarious comedy and some very dark emotion to often exhilarating effect. And the franchise's returning characters have a lot more to do than we expect, providing big laughs and also surprising resonance that redefines the genre.
Holland continues to deepen the character, digging under Peter's skin while maintaining his perky teen energy. This adds electricity to interaction with his close friends (both Zendaya and Batalon are terrific) as well as the wildly kinetic collection of heroes and villains around him. Cumberbatch has a fabulous time as the tetchy Strange, both annoyed and intrigued by everything that happens. And it's impossible to pick a star scene-stealer, since everyone gets a chance to seize the spotlight.
There's so much happening in this film that it sometimes feels cluttered, so it's a good thing that the central narrative remains relatively linear, centred around people who are easy to identify with. The digital effects work is eye-catching and sometimes jaw-dropping, even if the action sequences basically look like they're fully animated. So what holds the attention is the strongly character-based writing, which allows a smart, gifted cast to bring texture and nuance even when things get chaotic. This lets us sit back and enjoy every minute. And the post-credit scenes leave us wanting even more.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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