Complete A-Z list

Spider-Man: No Way Home


Stars: Tom Holland, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Jamie Foxx, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, J K Simmons, Rhys Ifans, Benedict Wong, Thomas Haden Church, Angourie Rice, Jake Gyllenhaal, Charlie Cox, Tony Revolori

Director: Jon Watts

Decades ago, in black-and-white days, Universal Studios was the king of fantasy-horror movies featuring such super-villains as Dracula, Wolfman, the Frankenstein monster, and more. As the series progressed, Universal decided to put most of its best-known bad guys into one film, an idea it pursued more than once.

Marvel Studios and its writers have come up with much the same notion in this new Spider-man adventure. At the beginning, the cover of Peter Parker (Holland, solid in the role) has been blown after his clash with Mysterio (Gyllenhaal) and the world not only now knows he is Spider-Man, but believes Mysterio to have been unjustly dispatched.

'Everything Spider-Man touches turns to ruin,' blares Bugle editor J J Jamieson (Simmons, again doing a good job) and you've got to admit he has a point. Desperate for anonymity, Peter enlists the help of Dr Strange (Cumberbatch) for a 'forgetting' spell, but, as things progress, he keeps making exceptions to the people who will still remember him - girfriend M J (Zendaya, appealing) is top of the list - so that in the end the spell goes wrong, instead bringing back all the evil mega-villains from parallel worlds who do remember who Spider-Man is.

They're all eventually captured, but once again Peter throws a spanner in the works, this time by trying to help them recover their previous identities before sending then back to where they came. He needs help and it comes


in the forms of Spider-Men from parallel worlds.

Watts, who directed the last two films in the series, is again efficient at the helm, and the action is sharper this time round, if without much emotive impact, while the lulls sometimes seem heavier. The climactic battle, too, is a shade over fantastical, while the film itself is more serious than before, even though it does grant the occasional dry line or flash of wit.

Fans will hoot with delight, and the film is more for them, with all its knowing references, than for a general, non-Spidey-oriented public. There's a scene after the main credits, the significance of which, not being a long-time Spidey-watcher, I didn't really understand.

David Quinlan

USA 2021. UK Distributor: Sony (Columbia/Marvel). Colour by Company 3.
148 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 16 Dec 2021