The Amazing Prologue
We here at Hidden Gems Literary Emporium have an interesting relationship with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who may be quite successfully pushing the boundaries between print and film media. Our knowledge of comics might be limited, yet, as faithful and happy readers, we cannot help but become well acquainted with the source material when books or cartoons are adapted onto the silver screen. As storytellers and artists ourselves, we personally feel it is important for each and every one of us to respect the source material of a subject when creating something that is 'inspired' by someone else's hard work manifesting characters and worlds. Here's to you, Stan Lee and Jack (Kurtsburg) Kirby.
As noted above, this film in particular has many layers. Thus, we shall take a moment to prologue this review beginning with a deep dive into "The Spider-Verse''! Yes, even the prodigal Miles Morales receives a nod of acknowledgement during the lengthy run time of No Way Home, illustrating that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was busted wide open, in a good way. If you have taken a gander at the events of the Disney+ smash hit, Loki, you may have a greater over-standing of the events which transpire in No Way Home. Without spoiling the story we can simply say, things are going to get weird in Marvel's Cinematic Multiverse of Madness. Get ready to "Open your Eye!"
"What was in that Tea? AHH! blerboobaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!"
The Wonderful World of Bully MagRami
(If you would like to jump right into the movie review, please scroll down to the segment titled "Spider-Man, No Way Home Review")
It is 2002, Americans are seeking a hero in these trying times. The children are ready for something new, something ... amazing. Who shall be the hero responsible for bringing our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man onto the big screen? Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, and Drag Me to Hell, Sam Rami, that's who, and if you don't like it, "Get off the set!" This Horror director simply tosses Spider-Man's lore into the trash and proceeds to imitate Stephen Spielberg's cinematic style with the empathy and heart of...a horror Director.
Dr. Ozborne, an ego driven, wealthy megalomaniac, with a knack for genetic manipulation, is reduced to a paranoid schizophrenic who has projected his subconscious desires into his collection of Afrikkaan tribal masks. Dr. Octavious, another brilliant scientist, is somehow confused with Dr. Curt Conners--the only Spider-Man villain whose story truly revolved around the whole, "Jekyll and Hyde" schtick.
Curt Conners: "Peter I found the answer to your troubles...wait ack, WRRRAWR!"
Sam Rami really, truly, absolutely. must film a "Jekyll and Hyde" horror story. For every single film of his trilogy hearkens to this theme so much so that it becomes comical...or... meme worthy...BULLY MAGUIRE.
Unfortunately, to the dismay of many readers, Hollywood directors have had a reputation of being a bit, dare we say, egotistical, for lack of a better word. Taking the reins with little regard for the fans of a vastly successful franchise and butchering the source material, while somehow attempting to make it better or more realistic. Some directors, such as Christopher Nolan, successfully blend the worlds of comics and reality. Others, well....
"Spider-Man is GOING to have organic webbing, because I refuse to waste the screen time expounding on the impoverished young man's genius."
"What's your motivation?....Uh, the tentacles hack your brain giving you multiple personalities...I know it's a "Jeckll and Hyde" schtick...I know I did it in the first film... Look, you can leave the stage and I'll put the tentacles on Willem Dafoe if you have a problem!"
"Two Seconds Later"
"Venom (2007) is going to be... ehh. Because I want to spend my entire special effects budget on SANDMAN! The most unimportant villain in Peter Parker's life! How? I'll make him important! He killed Uncle Ben, BOOM!"
Our faces, upon witnessing Venom in Spider-Man 3.....
Sam Rami is an excellent visionary director, yet, his attempts to reinvent the world of Peter Parker did not bode well with fans of the franchise. Directors at the time could get away with taking their own liberties with comic book franchises, but Spider-Man is one of the most successful comic and film brands in the US, and possibly, the world. Here lies the great question...What happens when a director butchers the source material, yet creates a widely (financially) successful film trilogy in the process? Do you build atop the convoluted mess of a foundation, or do you reboot? We know the answer. Enter, then... exit, The Amazing Spider-Man saga!
The Amazing Reboot
The Amazing Spider-Man received an "amazing" reception from both fans and critics. Andrew Garfield's performance, coupled with Marc Webb's directing, electrified millions, including ourselves. There was one unfortunate mishap... Many critics, including ourselves, felt a strange sensation, something akin to Neo witnessing a black cat crossing his path twice in the same scene. That odd feeling of deja vu. Were we watching Spider-Man 2 with a prettier Spider-Man and a glossy finish? Yes, but for good reason. The role assumed by Dr. Octavious in Spider Man 2, was actually a reprisal of Dr. Curtis Conner's actual canonical roles in both the comic books and the animated series. It could be argued that if the roles were switched and Conners were featured in Spider-Man 2, the movie would have had a profound impact on fans. Sam Rami could have had more liberties bringing his Horror film experience into the movie for a far more entertaining experience. Imagine the iconic operating table scene with a giant crocodile man! We have chills just writing it! The final act wrought another sense of deja vu. "Gas the city, find the cure, this movie just turned into Batman Begins."
When your swagger gets jacked by Spider-Man
A director attempts to recreate a film with more respect to the source material. Fans finally get the quippy, smart mouthed, Spidey they deserve. They also get a canonically accurate villain, and Peter's first love, Gwen Stacey. The chemistry between Peter and Gwen was also incredibly heart felt. Yet, in its respect, the film inevitably feels repetitive upon its reception due to the fact that the first films adapt some source material.
Amazing Spider-Man 2, was a delightful and fresh story, but Jamie Foxx's portrayal of a disgruntled reject from the blue man crew was lackluster.
Electro "I thought you were my friend...Now you must PAY!"
Foxx's story arc was also quite tragic, and interesting. Thus, the inclusion of The Green Goblin in the last act crowds the movie and makes Gwen's death both shocking and abrupt. You immediately forget about Electro, whose story takes presidence for two thirds of the film's run time.
So what happens when Marvel's most popular hero is summoned into its vastly popular and meticulously constructed Cinematic Universe? While fans scour the frames for post credit easter eggs featuring Robert Downey Jr, it is announced that Andrew Garfield will not be featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe...
The Spider-Man franchise seemed to be lost in the subspace with literally "No Way Home", yet somehow, some way, The Marvel Cinematic Universe was capable of bringing the friendly neighborhood Spider "Home"! Director Tom Watts had a heavy task in his hands: Reboot this massive franchise and make it fresh.
Hidden Gems : "Anything is possible, Time Keeper!"
"Spider-Man, No Way Home" Movie Review
Not folly, Tom Holland was vastly well received, and with this we end our very necessary prologue. Why? A Norse Deity warped himself into a variant timeline, and fell in love with a female version of himself. His chain of actions would open up the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse. Now, due to the consequences of the chain of events which transpired during the course of the Loki' series on Disney +, infinite realities are now open to the worlds of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
What can go wrong indeed...(Spoilers ahead)
All Spider-Man movies mentioned in the prologue have a direct and profound influence on the world of Peter Parker in Jon Watt's film, Spiderman: No Way Home. Or should we say, worlds of Peter Parkers...and Venom?
Jon Watts dropping the mic on em
Spider-Man: No Way Home is a mind-bendingly fun film, capable of both great fan service and great cinema, a blend which is quite rare when it comes to the action adventure genre. The most daunting task of merging the many worlds of Peter Parker (and Miles Morales) happens quite seamlessly. The film doesn't spend unnecessary time reintroducing characters to the audience, rather, Tom Holland's Peter Parker is humorously, and heartfully filled in with important and unimportant information.
"Trust me, I'm not a doctor, but I have Stark tech that doctors could only dream to afford."
The sages of cinema have taught that there is bound to be a problem when there are too many villains. This cinematic problem seems to be one Spider-Man franchise directors seem to be obsessed with conquering. It is like a two and a half hour long, ridiculously expensive, Tik-Toc challenge to them. Almost as if Rami set the bar and the subsequent directors are being called to the challenge. There are many villains, though we would argue, there are no antagonists in this film.
There are, however, too many DOCTORS, and this is where we find our flaw in this otherwise, near flawless work of art. Haven't we heard about the proverbial "too many doctors in the operating room"? But we digress.
We poked fun at the fact that we have Dr. Octavious, Dr. Osborne, Dr. Conners, and Dr. Strange in the film, but why is this segment titled, "Dr. Spiderman"? Without flat out pouring the plot of a quite enjoyable film upon the face of this blog, we will give a brief overview. Peter Parker is compelled to treat, rather than, beat, his opponents and finds himself playing the role of a doctor against doctors. A plot point we found to be unnecessary when pondering the grand scheme of things. Mad scientists don't exactly view themselves as 'mad'. They often become confounded by the sheer vastness of their knowledge, lashing out at those deemed less intelligent due to their own superiority complexes. Their big brains are untamed!
When you are 60 percent sure that he IS Spider-Man
The Untamed Big Brains of Spider-Man" No Way Home turn out to be far more tame during the "Avengers Level Event" of the third act, and throughout the film for that matter. Their motivations could have been more fleshed out in order to help the audience agree with Peter's perspective. An event which was masterfully well built up in the first two acts came to a satisfactory closing. But satisfying is not good enough, when the MCU has a reputation for shooting final acts that are nothing less than modern 'Marvels’.
While it is noted throughout this review that the Marvel Cinematic "Spider Verse" needed fixing, the fixing did not need to become a plot point of this wonderful movie. The MCU has made it clear that there are an infinite amount of universes with an infinite amount of possibilities as to what can and will transpire within its films. The merging of Spider-Worlds was enough to 'fix' the problems of the earlier films. "Rami's Wonderful World", and the "Amazing Reboot" are now important. The actions taken by previous Spider-Men and their antagonists have actual gravity and impact on Tom Holland's Peter Parker's life. We are watching a story, and stories are mainly centered around fixing the protagonist, while antagonists develop in their own way that essentially challenge the protagonist in his or her path towards personal growth.
These story beats sort of happen, but unfortunately upon the films closing, we were left with a feeling of...
What May Have Been Better (Spoiler Talk)
At HiddenGemsLiteraryEmporium.com , we treat films like books, critiquing the content with the mind that one day, these film makers could be our client. Upon receiving a manuscript, an editor makes suggestions based upon the context of the script. We do not know nor shall we attempt to assume the plans of the MCUs next phase. Thus, rather than injecting our own feelings about the events of the film, we will attempt to make suggestions without changing the outcome of the story in this segment we call "What May Have Been Better".
Cheesy Brock instead of Sandman
The problem with including Sandman in this film is the fact that his story arc was closed in Spider-Man 3. He did not 'die' fighting Spider-Man, in fact, he made peace with Peter Parker, apologizing for his involvement in the death of the young man's uncle. This in effect becomes a major plot hole in the film. Cheesy Brock, however, Peter's disgruntled co-worker and quite frankly, a hilarious, Venom cos-play fail, would have been a fun addition to the cast of villains. He did in fact die, as Peter attempted to save him. His inclusion would have also made Tom Hardy's mid credit scene all the more satisfying.
Eddie Brock meets Eddie Brock in a bar in Mexico.
Cheesy Brock goes off on a tangent about his desire to kill Peter Parker.
Venom whispers "Bad Guy" in Eddie's mind.
The two Eddies stare at one another.
Venom says "Let's eat him!"
Fade to black.
Two Eddies leave the bar.
Cheesy Brock thanks good Eddie for eating that thing, saying it was really messing up his social and work life.
They agree to meet Peter Parker and get warped back to their realities in a gold flash.
"PETER PARKER! BLARRRRRG!"
Willem The Foe!
"Read this with my Goblin voysssssse Spider-Mannnnnnn!"
Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin is a performance to be remembered. His removal from the franchise was quite the disappointment. As noted earlier the changes to his character from brilliant scientist to derranged mennace who projects his murderous nature into a mask was silly. This is where Spider-Man, No Way Home could have shined, truly "fixing" this villain who happens to be Peter Parker's nemesis!
What if Dr. Osborne and the Goblin were in fact NOT Jekyll and Hyde. Osborne instead plays coy with May in order to find a way to gain access to multiversal technology. During the film, Dr. Osborne says, "If you find a way to cross dimensions, maybe you can come work for me". Don't just write this into the script, use it to advance the plot. Dr. Osborne would have been far more foreboding had he been the villain that can't be fixed, the Joker to Peter's Batman. Instead he is fixed with a shot and sent home at the closing of the film.
A Stranger Climax
Dr. Stephen Strange may be one of the most powerful characters in the MCU. And we know from Civil War that there is always a possibility heroes can and do come to blows with one another. We know Peter and Strange have opposing philosophies regarding the imbalance which transpires from the spell. We feel the final act would have been better if the three Spidermen, and the now "fixed" villains are faced with battling an angry and unrestrained Dr. Strange.
Dr. Strange returns from the mirror dimension. He sees the entire fabric of reality is at risk. He cosigns that the only way to restore the balance is to kill the villains. Now, three Spider-Men and Dr. Octavious (since the others are restored to normal) have to fight Strange. The battle ensues, yet at the end, it is realized that the only way to keep the worlds from fracturing is to erase all memories of Peter Parker. In this instance, nothing really changes the story, yet the plot and character development is more fleshed out. You see the actual change in people who were once villains, now people, as they protect Peter's friends from becoming collateral damage. Dr. Strange experiences his own character development battling the choice between killing the few to save the many. Peter is faced with shelving his own feelings and doing what has to be done to save the world. This would have made a far more entertaining final battle set piece!
Judge Steve Harvey: "Yeah Hidden Gems can be a Judge, because I said so."
Spider-Man, No Way Home is a cinematic masterpiece. The director, Jon Watts, is humble enough to understand that Marvel is building a cinematic universe. This is important. We have noted what happens when directors obsess over leaving their mark on a franchise, often trying to reframe the world they are building with no respect to the source material. The source material is derived from the countless hours comic book artists spent attempting to build these worlds from a small office in New York. Peter Parker was the hero Marvel animators could relate to. His relationship with the Daily Bugle and Jameson may well reflect actual interactions between artists and editors within the walls of their very offices.
This film manages to pay respects not only to the artists, but to the previous directors, who also poured blood, sweat, and tears into the franchise in their own way. The film could have been better. We found it disheartening that Jamie Foxx's Electro was forgettable, to say the least. His upgrade and update could have made for some more interesting dialogue and set pieces, yet, this powerful and interesting character became the comic relief. Maybe in the next movie, viewers can meet Japan's "Spider-Man, the Emissary From Hell". That guy is quite something... Since "three is the magic number", we will score this movie....
9, is a Magic Number
"9! From Spider-Man, The Emissary of Darkness!"