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SYFY WIRE reviews

Reviews are in: 'No Way Home' is an emotional, meta love letter to ghosts of Spider-Man past

Spider-Man: No Way Home opens in theaters everywhere this Friday, Dec. 17.

By Josh Weiss
Spider Man No Way Home

The week has finally arrived! Spider-Man: No Way Home is just a few days from its wide theatrical release and with the film having enjoyed its world premiere in Los Angeles on Monday night, critics are now free to discuss their thoughts (for better and for worse).

Many reviews are, thankfully, diplomatic in their treatment of spoilers, dancing around the bigger plot beats that audiences should be able to enjoy for themselves, come Friday. As Polygon's Joshua Rivera states, "There’s more to it than the trailer gets into, and revealing any details would deflate the thrills," and we couldn't agree more with that. Other reviews, however, are a different story altogether, so please be extremely careful on where you click, people!

With that said, many critics are in agreement that Peter Parker's (Tom Holland) foray into the Marvel Multiverse is everything fans want it to be and more, even if it can be a tad unwieldy at times. But come on, "unwieldy" is kind of part-and-parcel when you're dealing with the prospect of infinite realities converging into one. Peter's battle against a cavalcade of classic baddies (from Alfred Molina's Doc Ock to Jamie Foxx's Electro) — as well as the media slandering of J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) — apparently leave some nasty wounds behind. We'd expect nothing less from a trilogy capper of this magnitude.

Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Willem Dafoe (Green Goblin), Zendaya (MJ), Jacob Batalon (Ned Leeds), Marisa Tomei (Aunt May), Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan), and Tony Revolori (Flash Thompson) co-star. Jon Watts returns as director, working off a screenplay by returning co-writers, Chris McKenna and Eric Sommers.

For those keeping score, the film currently sits at a 94 percent on the Rotten Tomatoes review meter, making it the second-highest rated title of the franchise after Into the Spider-Verse.

Head below to see what critics are saying (spoiler-free, of course):

"This third entry in the series ... is extremely funny, while providing enough callbacks to the character's screen history to qualify as a graduate-level course on the subject. The extent to which viewers come armed with that knowledge will surely enhance their enjoyment, but the movie has been structured carefully enough that two decades of Spider-Man viewing isn't necessarily a prerequisite." -Brian Lowry, CNN

"Spider-Man: No Way Home hits all the right notes as the MCU's latest entry. Its impact on the universe as a whole, as well as the overall emotional beats, all feel earned. Stellar performances meet what feels like a Saturday morning cartoon rife with all the devastating punches we've come to expect from this sneaky universe. Though it struggles with some tired superhero tropes, everything else about it will leave fans grinning ear-to-ear." -Amelia Emberwing, IGN

"The movie can be ungainly at times, and it’s much too committed to setting up even more craziness to play out in upcoming Marvel product (these aren’t standalone 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." -Peter Debruge, Variety

"Yes, Peter suffers here, losing so much he’s at risk of also losing the spirit that has made Holland’s Peter Parker so winning on screen since swinging into Captain America: Civil War. At moments, the anguish feels like the paint-by-numbers routine of superhero franchise-building: more of the same, despite the unusual circumstances." -John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

"No Way Home isn’t scared of throwing down an entirely new gauntlet, with a truly reverential eye to the past, and hoping for a new future worth fighting for. The road to the closing moments of No Way Home — both warm-hearted and heartbreaking — might have hit a few bumps, but the darkness is worth it. After all, when was the last time the third film in a franchise got audiences truly thrilled for what comes next? Maybe there is no way home, but Holland, Watts, and company make a case for something else, something even better." -Kate Erbland, IndieWire

"There’s more to it than the trailer gets into, and revealing any details would deflate the thrills. Ideally, that wouldn’t matter much; the story of Peter Parker’s final days as a high-schooler is what should make for a satisfying film. But No Way Home is a trilogy-capper — often fun, occasionally rough — built on stuff Sony, Marvel Studios, and diehard fans would rather we didn’t talk about yet." -Joshua Rivera, Polygon

"All of the details left out of this review could fill their own Multiverse. Surprises, call-backs, small character beats that pack an emotional wallop, one significant ehhhhhhhh story decision that brings to mind comic book storytelling's worst tendencies. It's all there, good, bad, and in-between. But No Way Home itself is pretty clear on this point: Getting exactly what you wished can be a sloppy deal indeed." -Vinnie Mancuso, Collider

Spider-Man: No Way Home opens in theaters everywhere this Friday (Dec. 17).