The first reviews have dropped for the long awaited next instalment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Spider-Man: No Way Home - the third standalone film to see Tom Holland don the iconic spider suit - has caused a stir among fans in the lead up to its release.
That’s because, since the film features the introduction of the MCU’s ‘multiverse’, older characters from pre-MCU Spider-Man films have been rumoured to return.
Former Spider-Men Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire have remained impressively straight-faced when asked probing questions by reporters in the run up to the film, and fans even suggested Marvel may have edited their characters out of trailers.
Of course, many reviewers are doing right by the fans and keeping the biggest secrets under wraps until the film is officially released to the public.
But what do they think of the film as a whole? At the time of writing, the film currently has a 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, meaning that it’s definitely a critical hit.
Here’s everything you need to know.
‘No Way Home is a perfectly fine superhero movie’ - David Fear, Rolling Stone
In his review for Rolling Stone, writer David Fear is generally enthusiastic about the latest comic book movie, but laments the blockbuster system behind it.
The film “has a couple of great set pieces,” he says, “plus some tragedy, some sacrifices, Easter eggs for the heads... a battle royale, post-credits sequences...”
But the reviewer can’t help feeling that the film serves more as “a set-up for the next film, which will set up the film after that, on and on ad infinitum.”
Fear calls the film, “just another typical Spider-Man story filled with typical Spider-mannerisms, another chapter in the ongoing, ever-morphing, never-ending Marvel saga that’s more addictive than cocaine-laced M&M’s.”
But, he does say that it’s when the detours into “cracked, buddy-comedy territory” is when the fun begins; “humour has always been a part of the Spider-Man movies... yet there’s a specifically anarchic spirit here that enlivens things with an Electro-level jolt.”
‘No Way Home doesn’t pretend that the earlier films were perfect’ - Peter Debruge, Variety
“No Way Home doesn’t pretend that the earlier films were perfect,” says Variety’s Peter Debruge, “poking fun at elements we can all agree were weaknesses while also leaving room for the villains and Spider-Men alike to do some much-needed healing.”
But while it’s a fun ride, Debruge does say it can be “ungainly at times”, and is “much too committed to setting up even more craziness to play out in upcoming Marvel product.
“These aren’t stand-alone films so much as overloaded episodes, after all, but it provides enough resolution for the past two decades of Spider-Man adventures that audiences who’ve tuned out along the way will be rewarded for giving this one a shot.”
‘Tender and funny and a little bit devastating’ - Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
Leah Greenblatt awards No Way Home a B+ grade in her review, and calls the latest Spider-Man movie a film of two halves.
The first chunk “feels noticeably less cohesive”, and Greenblatt says it is “a hectic collision of convenient plot points and winky one-liners pinging off every available surface while the script scrambles to find its footing.”
But the second half is when things really get into gear.
“Pretty much everything that happens after the 40-minute mark is a spoiler,” she says, noting that her press screening was even accompanied by “a recorded pre-show entreaty” from the cast begging reviewers not to share the film’s secrets.
“What seems at first like pure fan service turns out to be some of the best and by far the most meta stuff Marvel has done.”
‘More coherent than it could have been given the many moving parts’ - Benjamin Lee, The Guardian
Benjamin Lee of The Guardian poses the question of whether Marvel can prove their films still work “after the rare critical and commercial misfire that was Eternals”.
The answer is “mostly yes” he says, arguing in his three-star review that while No Way Home excitingly brings back numerous baddies from the previous Spider-Man universes, it loses the “breezy teen movie vibe of the first two offerings, giving way to mostly unearned Marvel gravitas.”
“It would have been preferable to see a less convoluted plot constructed more from a desire to progress rather than regress, Lee says.”
“It’s flawed for sure but still moves with more deftness than most and there’s an ending that suggests an awareness of its roots, hinting at a promising way forward rather than back.”
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