What Critics Are Saying About the New Spider-Man

General sentiment: It's 'undeniable' fun
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2021 11:45 AM CST

(Newser) – Before tuning in to Spider-Man: No Way Home, GamesRadar.com recommends you take in the 2000s Spider-Man trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, the two more recent films starring Andrew Garfield and, in this order, Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far From Home. It'll also help if you've seen Venom and Venom: Let There Be Carnage. That's the only way you'll "fully appreciate what's going on" in No Way Home, part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, per the outlet. Once you've done your homework, however, you should have a blast. Jon Watts' film, and Tom Holland's third in the starring role, has a 94% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and an even better 99% audience score. Four takes:

  • 'Nostalgia rush': His identity revealed, Peter Parker turns to Doctor Strange for a magic spell to set things right. Instead, it unleashes supervillains from other universes in "a turbocharged, 148-minute nostalgia rush," writes David Sims at the Atlantic. "It's a hectic series of plot twists and deus ex machinas that overturns an entire bucket of action figures and smashes them all together with delight. The film might be a new nadir of cinema—but it's also an undeniably watchable good time."

  • 'Hooked for next time': The film borrows from 2018's "revolutionary" Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but "it's impossible not to have a blast watching Spidey's worlds collide," writes Peter Travers at ABC News. He notes "Holland is better than ever, tempering this thrill-a-minute whirlwind with a sense that growing up for Peter means coping with loss and learning to work as a team." Plus there's "a big-swing of an ending that packs an emotional punch you don't see coming," adds Travers. "I'm happily hooked for next time. You will be too."

  • 'Unexpected disappointment': Or maybe not. Newsday's Rafer Guzman gives the film two stars out of four, calling it "an unexpected disappointment" that "merely treads water and caters to longtime fans." It "doesn't offer much more than a lot of Spidey in-jokes, winking asides and the cinematic equivalent of back-issue references," Guzman writes. In fact, unless you've seen the past movies dating back to 2002, "this episode might leave you feeling like a latecomer to a very clubby party."

  • Marvel at its best: The film begins with "a hectic collision of convenient plot points and winky one-liners pinging off every available surface while the script scrambles to find its footing," writes Leah Greenblatt at Entertainment Weekly. But "the way that the movie eventually manages to bridge all those multiplicities and pull them into focus feels both obvious and ingenious." Indeed, "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, tender and funny and a little bit devastating."
(Read more movie review stories.)

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