• 01 Jan - 07 Jan, 2022
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

After the last film ended with a big reveal – that Peter himself was revealed to be Spider-Man to the entire world – the secret life of the high school student was never to be the same. In No Way Home, JK Simmons’s J Jonah Jameson is now an Alex Jones type happily spreading the fake news that Peter Parker is a reckless killer to be feared and lambasted. It affects not only him but also his friends (a returning Zendaya and Jacob Batalon) and so he asks Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for a favour, to return to a world where no one knows his secret identity. Yet somehow the spell goes awry and universes start to open up, leading to a grand battle between Parker and some familiar villains.

It was an inevitable shift; the mostly contained, relatively small-scale adventure of the first had already expanded with the second more ambitious, MCU-inclusive chapter with slightly diminishing but still immensely satisfying returns. Bringing Spidey even further from home and even closer to the centre of all things Marvel was always going to happen but the question remained over how director Jon Watts would be able to juggle that many more plates without any or all of them crashing to the floor. He does a pretty solid job here, tasked with a considerable upping of the ante while bringing back numerous baddies from the previous Spider-Man universes, delivering a propulsive, slickly choreographed adventure that will appease a broad fanbase this Christmas.

But the sacrifice that comes with a grander stage is a loss of the breezy teen movie vibe of the first two offerings, giving way to mostly unearned Marvel gravitas, as serious decisions have to be made and serious losses are then felt. It’s a shame, as the lightness and genuine humour that had separated the Spider-Man movies from some of their more po-faced peers only comes in fits and starts, and even then, the quips too often fall flat. The script, from sitcom writers Erik Sommers and Chris McKenna, lacks the expected fizz, that sense of shaggy fun struggling to break through a more robotic plot.