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BWN Nerds’ Movie Review: Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

The Nerds pump the brakes on Hawkeye to cover one of the most anticipated movies in the MCU. Spider-Man: No Way Home is out and of course the Nerds will talk about it! Spoilers within goes without saying!

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Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review!  Every week the Nerds give you their take on entertainment from the Nerd-o-sphere.  This week, Patrick and Dave review the biggest MCU movie since the last biggest MCU movie Spider-Man: No Way Home!!

** SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT FORWARD**

  •  The Show:  Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • What’s it About:  After his identity is revealed to the world by Mysterio, the lives of Peter Parker and his closest friends and family are thrown into chaos. Desperate to undo the revelation, Peter goes to Dr. Stephen Strange for help via a spell to make the world forget Peter is Spider-Man. When the spell goes wrong, it has far-reaching consequences for the MCU Multiverse.
  • Metacritic Score: 71

The Nerds’ Take on Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021):

Dave: The phrase “instant classic” is something you hear every so often in the world of sports. It is rare, however, to refer to a movie or television show as such. Sure, it happens every so often, such as with The Empire Strikes Back, Jurassic Park, The Dark Knight, Infinity War or Endgame. More often than not though, it takes a few viewings before the greatness of a movie is fully realized, such as with The Matrix. Make no mistake: Spider-Man: No Way Home is an instant classic in every sense of the word.

Now, I am sure you have been forewarned about spoilers and such. We have been preaching about it on BWN ever since Sunday. I will do my best not to spoil everything, but that is virtually impossible just because of the way the movie is. If you are going to keep reading, do so either because you have already seen the movie or you just don’t care about spoilers and actually think I know what I am talking about (which is highly debatable).

When last we left Peter Parker at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, his identity had been revealed to the world by Mysterio. As No Way Home begins, Peter, MJ, and Ned are accosted at all turns by the press and paparazzi. None of them can live anything remotely resembling a normal life. When they all get rejected from attending MIT because of the whirlwind of activity around them, it becomes too much for Peter to handle. He seeks out Dr. Strange and wonders if he could cast a spell to make the world forget that he is Spider-Man. Dr. Strange reluctantly agrees to do this. But, as Strange is casting this spell, Peter keeps interrupting him trying to refine the spell so that only certain people remember who he is. The results are not good as the effect of the spell results in a multiversal rift allowing Doc Ock, Green Goblin (Norman Osborne) and Sandman from the Sam Raimi trilogy to show up, as well as Lizard & Electro from the Amazing Spider-Man set of movies. Dr. Strange realizes the danger of having these individuals present in their reality and wants to send them back to their own realities. When Peter learns that each of them perished fighting a version of Spider-Man, he sets out to try and cure them, rather than banish them back to their hopeless fate. This leads a big conflict with Dr. Strange, and a devastating loss for Peter as the Green Goblin persona proves to be even more lethal some 20 years later than he ever was.

With Peter at his absolute lowest, MJ & Ned set out to find him. Ned realizes he has some latent magical ability and when he tries to find Peter by using a sling ring to open a portal to “Peter Parker”, he finds Peter…. but it is the Peter portrayed by Andrew Garfield from the Amazing Spider-Man series. A second attempt at this predictably brings Toby Maguire’s Peter Parker into the mix from the Raimi trilogy. So, yes, all the rumors about three Spider-Men are true. Oh, and along the way, we get confirmation that Daredevil or, more precisely, his alter ego Matt Murdoch (played by Charlie Cox) is now in the MCU. Things are a bit predictable from here as it is the three Spider-Men, with a healthy assist from Doctor Octopus, who tackle the remaining villains.

I guess the best place to start is by talking about the Spider-Men because they are all fantastic. Tom Holland continues to show why he might very well be the best Peter Parker/Spider-Man ever. He continues to show his range and how much he has grown as an actor. The fresh-faced kid who first showed up in Civil War has definitely grown into this role. In many ways, this movie is a lot about Peter transitioning into manhood. The evisceration of his innocence is gradual as the movie progresses, but very powerful. Then there is Andrew Garfield. Much maligned for his portrayal of the web-slinger in a fairly lackluster duology, Garfield steals the show here. He openly pokes fun at the issues that many had as to his portrayal. But he never loses sight of the fact that he is still learning to cope with his feelings of loss and guilt for the death pf Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Then there is the OG, Toby Maguire. Maguire’s Peter is the grizzled veteran of the bunch. It is clear he has been plucked from a timeline long removed from Spider-Man 3. He is older, wiser…and the only one of the three who can organically produce webs from his own body, which is a key and amusing moment in the movie.

Then there are the villains. Lizard and Sandman are, to a great extent, after-thoughts. But Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), and Electro (Jamie Foxx) are anything but. Each of these characters truly shines in the movie, especially Dafoe who turned in a performance that was every bit as iconic as the one he did in 2002. Molina is enormously strong, and sympathetic, in his reprisal of the Doc Ock role. But it is Jamie Fox who massively surpassed his original role. This is the Electro so many of us wanted from the Garfield duology. He was bad-ass and his motivations made sense. In fact, Marvel Studios took just about every weak point of the Garfield duology, exposed it, and then made everything make perfect sense. Marvel’s well-earned reputation for being able to accomplish just about anything, with respect to story-telling, was never more fully on display then it was here.

So what makes this movie so great? I guess saying everything would be an easy way out. No Way Home has such an enormous amount of heart wrapped around a great story. That is a big part of it. But it is so much more than that. It is odd that even though just about everyone knew ahead of time who was likely to show up, it is what Marvel did with all these characters that is so special. Garfield and Maguire’s appearances were anything but small cameos. They were every bit as big a part of the movie as was Tom Holland. The interaction between the three Spider-Men, their shared heartbreak, their common experiences, and how they end up being there for each other during the final battle is something that was truly magical. When Andrew Garfield saves MJ from a fall very similar to the one that killed Gwen…. I challenge you to not get very emotional when you see it. Seeing all three Spider-men together, on screen, at the same time was great enough. But it is the story that Marvel pulled off by keeping all three of them central to the story progression, while still keeping the focus squarely on Tom Holland’s version of the character, which was just so impressive.

There is plenty of action, and a load of humor. But it is the pulse of this movie and the powerful moments it creates the sets it apart from the vast majority of super-hero-based movies that have come before it. Kudos have to be given to Tom Holland for the manner in which he portrayed his utter devastation at the loss of Aunt May. It was every bit as powerful as Toby’s loss of Uncle Ben or Andrew’s hopelessness after the death of Gwen. While the movie has its share of highly emotional moments, the ending of the movie really takes things to the next level as Peter is forced to ask Dr. Strange to make everyone forget who he is in order to prevent an even more cataclysmic incursion of the multiverse into his reality. Watching Peter say goodbye to MJ and Ned is soul crushing. No, it is not as emotional as Tony Stark’s death in Endgame or “I love you 3000”. But it is equally powerful for different reasons entirely. In the end, Peter Parker is alone. Aunt May and Tony Stark are gone, the woman he loves has no memory of him, and neither does his best friend. At the end of this trilogy, Peter ends up more like the comic variation of him than at any other time thus far in the MCU. It is equal parts hopeful and hopeless.

I went on record on BWN as saying that Spider-Man: No Way Home was easily in my Top 5 Super-Hero movies of all-time. I stand by that decision now that a few days have passed. In my humble opinion, it is right there with Dark Knight and Infinity War/Endgame. You just do not get movies like this all that often. When you get one like this, where its greatness literally leaps off the screen as you are watching it, all you can really do is sit back, recognize it as an instant classic, and take it all in. I cannot recommend this movie any more than I already have. It is a must-see in every way possible.

Dave’s Rating:  5.0/5.0

Patrick: In many ways, Spider-Man: No Way Home is more than just the next piece of the MCU narrative.  It is a wholesale reset of the Spider-Man/Peter Parker character and a Sony redemption tour.  This movie is a tour de force of the Spider-Man franchise since Tobey McGuire first donned the web shooters.  Fans of the character are going to be delighted with the way director Jon Watts marries so many great characters from the Spider-Man pantheon in a way that for the most part is more than just cameos for fan service.  As I sit at my keyboard and try to figure out the best way to revie No Way Home, I think I landed on simply writing paragraphs about the characters and the actors who portrayed them.  Because while the story itself is quite good, it’s the work of the cast that really made this movie magical for me. Plus, I know Dave is going to get nitty gritty on things like plot and other elements, so you’ll get your fix from him.

I’m going to start my analysis by looking at the villains. As most fans know by now, the driving problem of No Way Home is a spell that goes awry resulting in those who know of Peter Parker’s identity as Spider-Man in the Multiverse are drawn to Peter’s Universe. The result is the arrival of Dr. Otto Octavius, Norman Osborn, and Flint Marko from the Sam Raimi Spider-Man franchise and Max Dillon and Dr. Curt Connors from the Amazing Spider-Man movies appearing in the MCU. Marvel/Sony managed to get all of the original actors to reprise their roles for the film, but three of the five shined in their reprisals.  First, Jamie Foxx returned as Dillon/Electro and dove hard into his opportunity to remake his character.  For those who don’t recall in ASM2 Electro is kind of a sniveling, desperate for attention loser who goes nuts.  Here Foxx plays Dillon as someone more in touch with electricity to a point of being able to feel the difference in power between universes.  Dillon is also far less of a pushover, although he does retain some of that need to be noticed.  But Foxx plays this need much more subtly and gives Electro a new level of depth that wasn’t previously seen previously.  When Dillon gets his hands on an ARC reactor, Foxx cranks up the lust to keep his newfound power to eleven. It is very effective and makes a flat, sad character into a pretty dynamic villain.

Alfred Molina also returns as Dr. Octopus and you would swear he was still on the set of Spider-Man 2. He’s that seamless in his portrayal.  Doc Ock in the original film was a very sympathetic character, a prisoner to his machines. Molina was clearly encouraged to keep this portrayal alive for the No Way Home and it works extremely well.  Octavius is a character who needs redemption and Watts clearly knew how to make it so without stomping on Raimi’s original vision. Molina’s Ock buys into MCU Peter’s vision of a second chance and is the perfect counterpoint to Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin who has no desire to change.  Speaking of Dafoe, many have agreed that his work as both Norman Osborn personas steals the show among the returning villains.  Much like Molina, you wouldn’t know Dafoe had last played Osborn twenty plus years ago. The man lost nothing from the sniveling Norman or the insane Goblin.  He pushes MCU Peter to the brink of murder before ultimately being defeated.  Dafoe’s range and skill slipping between the two characters is flawless. Add to all of this that Dafoe insisted in doing his own stunts for the movie and you just have to tip your cap to the man.

On the hero side of things, No Way Home brings both previous actors of the Peter Parker character to the film in Tobey McGuire and Andrew Garfield.  Both men are terrific in pulling MCU Parker from the brink of giving up. Maguire is solid in his return to Spidey, although I couldn’t help but think his heart wasn’t entirely in the return.  He wasn’t bad at all, but I would say he fell a little flat in my eyes. The same cannot be said for Andrew Garfield. He clearly was excited to return to this role, interviews to the contrary notwithstanding, and his enthusiasm bursts through the screen. Garfield’s Parker is witty, funny, and a touch emotional in a way that really helps bond the three Parkers. Fans and Garfield Parker even get to see a moment of redemption when he rescues MJ from falling to her death. It’s a moment of catharsis that was satisfactory for the character and the audience.

Tom Holland is once again tremendous in his portrayal of the MCU Peter Parker. This time Parker finally faces the dark consequences of being Spidey when he suffers the ultimate loss in Marissa Tomei’s Aunt May. Mays death nearly break Peter and Holland makes you share in that grief. Holland’s rage when fighting the Goblin comes at the audience in waves and I was practically begging him to stop.  Parker is on the verge of being lost forever until we get one tremendous moment from Maguire, whose Parker stops Holland’s Parker from dealing a deathblow.  Tom gives us a third layer from Parker when he embraces the idea of great responsibility and asks Dr. Strange to make it so no one remembers Peter Parker at all.  The heartfelt goodbye Parker gives MJ and Ned tore me up in the theater.  Holland nailed it.

So where do all these portrayals leave us? Well, we get a Spider-Man and Peter Parker that are the closest to Stan Lee’s original vision as we can get. Parker is on his own, no Avengers or Stark tech to back him up.  He’s back to being a street level hero, known to the public yet unknown.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is Peter Parker as I know him and this reset opens so many doors for the MCU and the Sony universe.  This ending is damn near flawless for me.  Spider-Man Into the Spiderverse is a terrific movie and among the top five in the MCU if you ask me.  My only quibbles with the film are that there are some gratuitous moments of fan service that I don’t know serve the film overly well, but they are minor and don’t kill the film. Additionally, while the first and final acts of the film are terrific, the second act is bogged down by exposition that while important, felt slow and a little overlong.  But these are quibbles.  Spider-Man No Way Home is among the best the MCU has to offer and will satisfy fans over repeated viewings.

Patrick’s Rating:  4.96/5.0

 

Overall Nerds’ Rating for Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021): 4.98/5.0


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Bandwagon Nerds

Bandwagon Nerds #132: Double Trouble

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Bandwagon Nerds
Bandwagon Nerds #132: Double Trouble

The Nerds ran with a rather limited Bandwagon this week as Dave and PC Tunney, with a cameo or two from Rey Cash, offer up their thoughts on a bunch of trailers including Season 3 trailers for The Boys & Umbrella Academy, Netflix’s Geek Week, HBO’s upcoming George Carlin documentary, and a trailer for She-Hulk that generated a lot of buzz, but for the wrong reasons. The guys also touch base on some newsworthy topics including Disney + picking up and continuing Daredevil, a possible Captain Carter project in the works, and a huge announcement from Kevin Feige about the upcoming Secret Invasion series that has some wondering the eternal question….is everyone a Skrull?

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About Bandwagon Nerds

Join Patrick O’Dowd, David Ungar, PC Tunney, Rey Cash, and Aesop Mitchell as they keep everyone up on all things nerd, and maybe add some new nerds along the way. It’s the Bandwagon Nerds Podcast!

About the Chairshot Radio Network

Created in 2017, the Chairshot Radio Network presents you with the best in wrestling and wrestling crossover podcasts, including POD is WAR, Women’s Wrestling Talk, The #Miranda Show, Badlands’ Wrestling Mount Rushmores, The Outsider’s Edge, DWI Podcast, Bandwagon Nerds, the Greg DeMarco Show, 3 Man Weave, Five Rounds, Turnbuckle Talk, Suwama’s Station, The Reaction and more! You can find these great shows each week at theChairshot.com and through our distribution partners, including podcasting’s most popular platforms.


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Bandwagon Nerds

Bandwagon Nerds #131: The Best Comics Stories Ever Told

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Bandwagon Nerds
Bandwagon Nerds #131: The Best Comics Stories Ever Told

With no shows to review and trailers being a bit scarce, the Nerds enjoyed the calm before the storm of content on the horizon. This week, the guys touch on all sorts of little news nuggets including lots of Marvel talk (including a juicy news rumor that broke while the show was recording), news about the Arrowverse, Dune II, an awesome new Lego set, the Zack Snyder controversy, and some talk about Star Wars Celebration coming up Memorial Day Weekend.  Then, it is the return of The Comic Spotlight, sort of, as Dave and Aesop count down their Top 10 best comics stories of all-time. Whether you are a Bandwagoner looking for an excellent list of titles to read or a veteran Nerd curious to see if your favorite made The List, this is a countdown you won’t want to miss.

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  • @itsReyCash
  • @PCTunney
  • @ViolentAesop
  • @therealcplatt
  • @ChairshotMedia

About Bandwagon Nerds

Join Patrick O’Dowd, David Ungar, PC Tunney, Rey Cash, and Aesop Mitchell as they keep everyone up on all things nerd, and maybe add some new nerds along the way. It’s the Bandwagon Nerds Podcast!

About the Chairshot Radio Network

Created in 2017, the Chairshot Radio Network presents you with the best in wrestling and wrestling crossover podcasts, including POD is WAR, Women’s Wrestling Talk, The #Miranda Show, Badlands’ Wrestling Mount Rushmores, The Outsider’s Edge, DWI Podcast, Bandwagon Nerds, the Greg DeMarco Show, 3 Man Weave, Five Rounds, Turnbuckle Talk, Suwama’s Station, The Reaction and more! You can find these great shows each week at theChairshot.com and through our distribution partners, including podcasting’s most popular platforms.


The Chairshot Radio Network
Your home for the hardest hitting podcasts and radio shows!

All Shows On Demand

Listen on your favorite platform!

iTunes  |  iHeart Radio  |  Google Play  |  Spotify
Listen, like, subscribe, and share!


Bandwagon Nerds Mario


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Let us know what you think on social media @ChairshotMedia and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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