You know the lyrics: 'Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can.' But does that extend to winning over the critics with this year's Spider-Man: No Way Home?
The latest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie throws Peter Parker (Tom Holland) into a multiverse of madness when a spell cast by Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) goes badly wrong. Time and space are inverted and we're re-introduced to several villains who had their origins outside the MCU, including Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) and Electro (Jamie Foxx).
Can Peter set the world to rights? Can he live a normal life with MJ (Zendaya)? And will the multiverse ultimately inform the direction of the MCU as we advance further into Marvel Phase Four and Marvel Phase Five? No Way Home poses all of these exciting questions and more, wrapped up in a spectacular big-screen package. So, what did the critics make of it? Without giving away any spoilers, the broad consensus is very positive with reviewers citing the movie's ambitious and emotive tone.
Deadline's Pete Hammond lauds the movie as "the most exciting, surprising and emotional Spidey of them all", elaborating: "This movie does what the best movies always do: They thrill you and move you and make you want to cheer in a crowded theatre. In light of the pandemic this movie is a holiday gift not only to moviegoers, but also to exhibitors, because if EVER there was a film poised to save the movie business — just like Spidey always saves the day — it is this splendidly-crafted endgame... Franchise movies, Marvel Movies, Comic Book Movies – you name it – just don’t get much better than this."
Variety critic Peter Debruge says the movie is a "satisfying meta adventure", adding: "Returning director Jon Watts — whose bright, slightly dorky touch lends a welcome continuity to this latest trilogy — wrangles the unwieldy premise into a consistently entertaining superhero entry, tying up two decades’ of loose ends in the process."
"The first half is a bit rough around the edges, but that second half soars," says YouTube critic Perri Nemiroff. "In that part of the movie, the multiverse of it all far exceeds expectations -– fun, exhilarating, often very emotional and hugely satisfying material."
"Even as reality spins out in multiple directions, this latest chapter never strays too far from its characters’ innate humanity," writes Alonso Duralde for The Wrap. "This is ultimately a story about high-school seniors in love, wondering if they and their best buddy will get to go to college together. The returning team of director Jon Watts and writers Chris McKenna and Erik Somers give the trio of appealing young leads the ability to make their sweet and funny kid stuff the nucleus around which all the interdimensional travel and superhero standoffs rotate."
IGN's Amelia Emberwing raves: "Spider-Man: No Way Home hits all the right notes as the MCU’s latest entry. Its impact on the universe as a whole, as well as the overall emotional beats, all feel earned. “Stellar performances meet what feels like a Saturday morning cartoon rife with all the devastating punches we’ve come to expect from this sneaky universe. Though it struggles with some tired superhero tropes, everything else about it will leave fans grinning ear-to-ear.”
Indiewire journalist Kate Erbland says the final payoff more than justifies the journey: "The Marvel Cinematic Universe is not always willing to get really risky — particularly in standalone features that will undoubtedly impact the rest of the slate — but No Way Home isn’t scared of throwing down an entirely new gauntlet, with a truly reverential eye to the past, and hoping for a new future worth fighting for. The road to the closing moments of No Way Home — both warm-hearted and heartbreaking — might have hit a few bumps, but the darkness is worth it.”
A somewhat more temperate response comes from The Guardian's Benjamin Lee who awards the movie three out of five stars and writes: "It’s flawed for sure but still moves with more deftness than most (arriving after Eternals is a blessing for any Marvel film) and there’s an ending that suggests an awareness of its roots (post-credits scene aside), hinting at a promising way forward rather than back. Consider the curse of sorts sort of broken.”
Well, you've heard it from the critics, and you can make your own mind up very soon. If you haven't already done so, click here to book your tickets for Spider-Man: No Way Home. The movie opens in Cineworld on 15th December, so don't forget to tweet us your immediate reactions @Cineworld.