Spider-Man: No Way Home is a fun web-launching adventure that closes the odds, critics say.
The ninth solo film in the franchise since 2002 sees Tom Holland returning as the third iteration of Peter Parker.
Set in the Marvel universe, it attempts to merge the Dutch era with the previous Spidey worlds of predecessors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield.
Variety said director Jon Watts “combines the cumbersome premise into a consistently entertaining blockbuster.”
Its writer Peter Debruge praised the way the multiverse plot is used to “explore more fully what Peter Parker stands for”.
The film follows on from 2019’s Far From Home, in which the evil Mysterio exposed Parker before he died.
Now fearing for his family and friends of him with his identity revealed, Parker asks Marvel’s Doctor Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, to cast a spell that reapplies his anonymity.
But the plan goes wrong, instead opening a portal to parallel worlds, forcing Holland’s Parker not only to face old enemies, but also to meet his alternate self.
The return of Garfield and Maguire has been the subject of feverish speculation and anticipation and repeated denials by those involved. But few people believed it.
Debruge said the former Spider-Men are back with aplomb. The plot also sees Holland offering the best interpretation of him to date – with the character of him having the most depth being shown struggling to deal with the part of him in Mysterio’s death, he said.
Attention to Consequences “seems perfectly fitting for a film that targets a new wave of idealistic teenagers who are very busy questioning everything Western civilization thought it knew about crime and punishment, power and privilege,” he wrote.
“It’s fascinating to meet a Hollywood breakout offering that tries to understand the root of these characters’ megalomaniacal behavior.”
“The box set of the best hits”
Similarly, IGN reviewer Amelia Emberwing said the “emotional impact” gave the film “a new depth that has never been explored in previous Spider-Man films.”
Its success, she said, is not only dependent on Holland’s turn, but is also built around performances by returning enemies, from Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin to Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock and Jamie Foxx’s Electro.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home hits all the right notes as the latest entry in the MCU. Her impact on the universe as a whole, as well as the overall emotional beats, all feel earned,” she concluded.
But the Culture Mix suggested the film would be best enjoyed by die-hard Spidey fans.
“Much like an artist’s greatest hits box set for fans who already own all of the artist’s albums, Spider-Man: No Way Home is especially popular with people who’ve seen all previous Spider-Man movies.” , wrote Carla Hay.
“It’s full of [nostalgia and] jokes.”
The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee appreciated the film’s ambition in its three-star review, calling it “a propulsive and brilliantly choreographed adventure”, but said it offered only “sparse fun”.
He said that while Watts had done a “great job” of putting worlds together, there was a loss of “the sizzling atmosphere of the teen movies of the first two offerings”, a “sacrifice that comes with a bigger stage” .
Johnny Oleksinski of the New York Post said the film ends on a positive note, describing the ending as “bold”.
“You’ll never leave a Marvel movie with so much uncertainty about what’s to come next,” he said. “In the best possible way, it looks like the director is saying, ‘Try to get rid of me now, you idiots!’
“It’s true that some bad guys reunion jokes are forced, and Peter’s choices can be ambiguous at first.
“But if, like me, you were 12 when you saw 2002’s Spider-Man … you’ll be thankful you have a silly mask to hide your ugly emotional face when the credits roll.”