“This is why I don’t have kids,” Doctor Strange laments while trying to clean up Peter Parker’s multi-verse mess in the 2021 Spider-Man movie. It’s not the funniest punchline, but sort of sums up the movie’s theme – teen hero trying to get his life together but ignoring advice from the wise.

Plot overview: Spider-Man’s identity is revealed to the world, creating a lot of problems for Peter’s friends and family. So the teen super-hero turns to Doctor Strange for help – he wants everybody to forget who his identity. But thanks to Peter’s last minute interjections during the spell, it goes wrong and villains from different worlds show up in their dimension. Can the friendly neighborhood hero fight all these strange baddies and fix things for those close to him? That forms most of the plot.

Ever since the super cool 2018 animated film ‘Spider-Man – Into The Spider-Verse’ came out, a lot of fans imagined it would be hard to top that. However, the 2021 live-action movie directed by Jon Watts with Tom Holland in the lead borrows some of Spider-Verse ideas to give us yet another entertaining and delightful installment. Bringing back super-villains from the older spider-man movies was a master-stroke, since it has heavy nostalgic value for those who grew up watching Spider-Man titles of the early 2000s. Loud cheers went up in the theater each time an old villain showed up on screen, be it Dr Ock (Alfred Molina) or the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe). For those who haven’t seen the pre-2016 live-action movies, ‘No Way Home’ might not be as fun. Maybe the makers picked a Thursday release date because of the popular ‘Throwback Thursday’ tag on the internet, meant to take you back in time.

The cinematography is fantastic and worth watching in 3D, because a LOT of scenes have visual effects that wouldn’t be as enjoyable in 2D. Along with the multiverse-madness, there’s also a trippy sequence of Spiderman and Strange having a standoff in the mirror world, which was both chaotic and stunning to watch. Some of the action sequences weren’t as impressive as one would hope for them to be. For example, Spider-Man struggling to fight an unarmed Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin) was a little ridiculous. But for a film filled with magic, multiple universes and a whole bunch of things that don’t make sense; suspending logic and just lying back relaxed is the best way to go about watching it.

This movie is a triumphant teamwork of an ensemble cast, where everybody equally shoulders the responsibility of carrying the story forward and engaging the viewer. Zendaya and Jacob Batalon, who reprise their roles as MJ and Ned Leeds, are both adorable in their supporting bits, the girlfriend and best-friend looking out for Peter Parker when the whole world has turned against him. Tom Holland still doesn’t look a day older than 18, and is just such a sprightly Spider-Man that it’s hard not to root for him. The theme of ‘second-chances’ felt a little half-baked, but manages to reel you in.

Trying to keep this review spoiler-free, so all one can say is, the first half of ‘No Way Home’ is quite solid. The second-half is a lot more emotional, with some very clever allusions to the older movies that will have fans tearing up. As the climax approaches, it feels like the story runs the danger of becoming a sob-fest, but the writers get a grip, throw in some light humorous moments and reclaim the pace of the film.

There is a post-credit scene that foreshadows the next Doctor Strange movie, so keep an eye out for that.

It’s a 8/10 from me for ‘Spider-Man – No Way Home’.

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