Homeward Bound

After 90-minutes, No Way Home drops the enjoyable, playful fan service and brings cinema’s Spider-Man trio together. That’s No Way Home at its best.

This isn’t baseless, familiar faces for the sake of familiar faces. Instead, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man isn’t alone now. The character is a teenager, dealing with hormones, awkwardness, and a galaxy invading his planet. Although an Avenger, Peter Parker is isolated when dealing with social pressures. Now he’s not. Each multiverse variation endured similar loss. Each fought similar battles and similar foes. Holland’s Parker, distinctive in morals and empathy, must understand his equals, whether from his world or not.

In time, No Way Home will lose the fan factor

No Way Home embraces the oft-cited, “with great power comes great responsibility” mantra, because in this current Marvel world, the powers are substantial – even infinite. Teenagers are selfish and believe themselves invulnerable; Parker does too, inviting No Way Home’s multi-dimensional mayhem for his own personal goals. Great responsibility he does not grasp.

Of Marvel’s current output, the Spider-Man series tells stories that remain inherently personal, even in thematic ways. Given the near 15-years since the inception, Marvel’s on-screen stories emphasized war mongering, surveillance states, and other pertinent issues. No Way Home does too, turning J. Jonah Jameson into an abrasive Alex Jones parody, a commentator willing to put a high school kid through hell. That’s targeted critique, but ancillary to No Way Home’s arc. Plus, in a world recently experiencing an intergalactic assault, seems odd Jameson’s only focus is Spider-Man.

Early in No Way Home, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) makes a brief speech on sacrificing the few for the many. That’s foreshadowing, but in addition to forcing Parker to contend with his own choices, risking stability in the universe for his own small worldview. That’s what Spider-Man overcomes in No Way Home, giving the script ample emotional pull, and making the battle against supervillains secondary. Taken as the third movie in this stand-alone series, to see the script still deliver a notable, worthwhile arc, tied to the character’s traits, is impressive.

In time, No Way Home will lose the fan factor. Its success was undoubtedly driven by timing – the first theatrical Marvel entry in an (almost) post-covid world, promising nostalgia, the same as Endgame drew applause as Captain American snatched up Thor’s hammer. That effect wanes at home and on repeat viewings; the energy is gone. Thankfully, No Way Home still has the depth to carry a satisfying story.

Video

Dolby Vision powers this generally colorful Marvel adventure. This gives flesh tones an obnoxiously glowing hue, but other primaries stick their landing better. Spider-Man’s suit(s) push an intense red that can stand out in any condition. Vividness fills most environments, even the Doc Strange dungeon that’s stuffed with dark blues.

Matching the Marvel style, contrast favors a duller aesthetic leaving shadows veering toward gray. Not all, but most. Dimensionality suffers, although there’s no lack of brightness to go around. No Way Home sports spectacular highlights. It’s generous, glistening, and a constant performer. More than just sunlight, little flecks reflect from Spider-Man’s various metal pieces, bouncing off the black and sparing nothing. Strange’s magic sizzles and glows every time, and Electro’s bolts can blind.

Holding this disc back is the lagging 2K-sourced DI. While unobstructed clarity earns high marks, the resulting detail (or lack of) doesn’t gain much from the format. If anything, UHD exposes the limitations, like flattened facial definition. No Way Home looks overly smoothed as a result, either a choice or the upscale’s aftereffects. Aliasing though, that’s certainly an upscale issue; look at the power lines before (and even after) the Electro fight. Lucky then the HDR pass can lift No Way Home from an average designation.

Audio

Shooting webs through the city, Atmos effects play nice alongside Spider-Man’s motion. Heights factor in prominently, even for less action-intensive things like when Strange first casts the spell, small sounds bouncing between rears and overheads. It’s as subtle as it is bombastic. Major action scenes manage to find every angle worth capturing. Exceptional debris fields wash across the soundstage, absolutely accurate as they do so. The Mirrorverse sequence maintains total, complete spectacle, both in positioning and bass response.

Out of Disney’s hands, LFE response erupts. Marvelous low-end accentuates helicopter rotors, Doc Oc’s tentacles, Electro’s bolts, explosions, crashing cars, and whatever else needs a jolt. Well-considered range varies the impacts, keeping scale and power appropriate to the visuals. At the deepest, No Way Home shakes an entire room, along with anything in it.

Extras

Held on the Blu-ray, Sony’s bonus package begins with a gag reel that runs four minutes. A peak at the action scene design lasts a bit over six minutes. Tom Holland reflects on his role and the approach in an interview segment. A slew of dull EPKs follow, but don’t skip the two panels, one with the three Spider-Men stars and the other with the villains. Those are the best of the lot on this disc. Pre-vis and promotional materials rounds things out.

Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

Fan service won’t sustain Spider-Man: No Way Home long term, but it’s an emotionally powerful and nuanced take on being a superhero that will last.

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User Review
2.17 (12 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 66 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: