Spiderman: No Way Home... the closest thing to a live-action Spider-Verse
No Way Home balances highly charged fan-service moments with big emotional payoffs, you swear you're watching the old Spiderman movies.
Spiderman: No Way Home is easily the best of the MCU Spiderman trilogy. But I gotta preface the facts that I wasn't exactly a huge fan of the previous two entries: Homecoming and Far From Home, respectively. They're not bad films, far from it actually but I never was sold into MCU's version just because Tom Holland's take on Spidey while perfectly cast as a teenager, he always doesn't face consequences or he always looks up to someone for guidance/agency a.k.a Tony Stark. Also, while it's commendable that they're smaller in scale compared to Raimi's trilogy or Webb's, one doesn't feel the urgency nor the weight of each character's action, thereby making the MCU Spiderman entries lighter in comparison. Thankfully, that changes now as No Way Home balances highly charged fan-service moments with big emotional payoffs, you swear you're watching the old Spiderman movies.
...while Into The Spider-verse is the stronger iteration of the multiverse of Spideys, and Spiderman 2 still remains the best live-action Spiderman movie IMHO, No Way Home comes close to both as a strong contender for best Spidey flick...
It's not to say it is not without flaws though. The VFX for one makes the PS4 Spiderman game look more realistic and well rendered. And sometimes, it succumbs to the MCU quips that every MCU movie has to have, be it the humor or wise-cracking one-liners, and the big 3rd act (I know the formula works, but it's getting standardized to a point of over-saturation). And also, did they just conveniently ignore one of the big accusations Peter faces at the beginning? We'll get to the 3rd act later, but these are some of the nitpicks I have to say about this flick. Otherwise, while Into The Spider-verse is the stronger iteration of the multiverse of Spideys, and Spiderman 2 still remains the best live-action Spiderman movie IMHO, No Way Home comes close to both as a strong contender for best Spidey flick.
The plot this time, picks up from the events from the last movie straight away as Peter is exposed to the world as Spiderman (and unfortunately falsely blamed as Mysterio's killer) and he faces pretty much a divisive reaction. He has fans but at the same time, he's been called a murderer. But Peter, MJ, and Ned (Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon respectively) try to avoid that as they try to concentrate on their college applications much to the dismay they may not get there due to the recent controversies Peter is facing. So, Peter, as the lovable screwup that he is, meets Dr. Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) to undo his mistakes by making everyone forget who Peter Parker is... and things go south immediately as new but familiar villains, (Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Electro, Sandman, Lizard) pop up out of nowhere and begin to attack him as Spiderman has been their nemesis just not the MCU's one... yet. He also has to face Dr. Strange who later on begins to get irritated with Peter's actions, their relationship also comes at loggerheads between them.
...Spiderman 3 and The Amazing Spiderman 2 fell victim to the main criticism of having too many villains and they're not well fleshed out either...
Minor Spoiler Alert here
It's funny considering Sony (the parent company housing Spiderman movies) always wanted to make a Sinister 6 movie (5 here but who's counting?) from each of the iterations. Unfortunately, Spiderman 3 and The Amazing Spiderman 2 fell victim to the main criticism of having too many villains and they're not well fleshed out either. No Way Home, however, uses those mistakes and flips them around by making Peter forcefully make all of those baddies work alongside him to send them back home. But first, he tries to reform them as he works to nullify their powers for two reasons:
1) He learns that each of them came here as soon as they're about to meet their fates, and
2) he believes taking away their powers could bring back normalcy and avoid more conflicts in the process.
Well, as this is a Spiderman flick, this ends disastrously to a point, Peter faces quite possibly his biggest fear and realizes whatever he wished for has major consequences. It also helps that Holland's Peter Parker finally realizes the true pain of losing someone close could lead him to go to darker places in his mind. Like the previous Spiderman movies, tragedy fuels Peter's motivation which is a key to shaping how he becomes Spiderman in his own right. A key scene involving him with his friends on the rooftop is one of the most moving scenes, which is a fabric cut from each iteration of Spiderman (Aunt May in Raimi's version, Gwen Stacy in Webb's, and also let's include Spider-verse as well with Miles' dad).
*Spoiler Alert Ends*
However, the amount of fan service is so well done to a point you couldn't help but just let these moments go on for longer, especially in the 3rd act. With some familiar faces popping up to meet Peter, you find yourself cherishing these moments and some conversations between those characters are so likable, they're the best scenes in the whole movie and there are lots of them here. This is easily the heaviest of the trilogy, in fact despite cheers in the 3rd act being guaranteed, there was a stunned silence at the end of it all. Oh but it's short-lived as the MCU always has the famous mid-credit and post-credit sequences to alleviate the mood.