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Spider-Man: No Way Home first review reactions are in, and it's a winner

Tom Holland's latest adventure marries the Marvel Cinematic Universe with past Spider-Man films, but does it hang together?

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films, TV, Movies, Television, Technology
Richard Trenholm
3 min read

Spider-Man: No Way Home harks back to previous Spider-flicks, and reviewers say it just about works.


With all the leaks and spoilers it seems we've been waiting forever for Spider-Man: No Way Home. But the new wall-crawling Marvel adventure finally hits theaters this week, and the first reactions say the much-discussed references to previous Spider-movies just about work.

Spider-Man: No Way Home will be released in theaters Thursday (but not Disney Plus, sorry). After the first round of reviews, Tom Holland's latest spidey-flick has a Metacritic score of 71, with 100 percent of critics agreeing it's fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

"For the most part, it works... if you've seen all the previous Spider-Man movies," writes Jennifer Bisset in CNET's review of No Way Home. "Watch Spider-Man's back-catalogue and you'll be in the know as to why the people at the back of the theater are cheering at any given moment... And if you're not intimately acquainted with two decades of previous Spider-Man films? If you're here for simply a well-oiled and entertaining Marvel (and Sony) flick, you won't be disappointed." 

You can get a flavor of the film from these other reviews. Be warned -- we can't protect you from spoilers!

"There's still something charmingly small-scale about this film. It's personal, and that's a theme and an idea that is only further hammered home as the film zips through its first act, starts to slow down in its second, and completely nails the whole damn thing by its eye-popping final forty minutes."

"Holland is the veteran Spider-Man actor now having played the role in six films now. He really does feel like the heart of the Marvel Cinematic Universe now and there's little reason to think he can't maintain that status for the next decade."

"Perhaps if you've somehow gone without seeing a single trailer, then you would be surprised. If not, then there isn't anything here that you won't expect going in. That comes in handy for the absolute banger third act, but the problem is it takes far too long to get there."

"Where the movie gets hung up and nearly stumbles is during the rigmarole around these villains... No Way Home does rebound in a big way in its final third, which is easily its most satisfying section -- and, despite its big action set pieces like a very elaborate fight atop the Statue of Liberty, does return the emphasis back to what it means to be Peter Parker in this absurd world filled with costumed weirdos."

"No Way Home does expect at least a baseline of familiarity with the three Maguire movies and the two Garfield outings. Depending on your perspective, that expectation will either play like a nod to the late Stan Lee's love of interlocking Marvel Comics backstory or provide ammo for moviegoers fed up with superheroes in general and the gotta-see-'em-all exigency of MCU movies in particular."

Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

"No Way Home also ties those once innocently discrete films to the sprawling whole of the Marvel machine as it exists today -- an act of cross-corporation synergizing (between Sony and Disney ) so total and audacious one almost has to respect it. What else might Marvel's tractor beam pull into the hungry maw of its Borg ship, to be assimilated into the seething collective?"

"For much of its 148-minute runtime, the film walks a fine line between being a sequel to Spider-Man: Far from Home and a skewed riff on Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. The comparison isn't a flattering one, as the animated feature didn't rely on the mere idea of universe-hopping to provide its jolt."

"It's a happy marriage of fan service and character writing that ultimately works -- despite the overlong winking banter and riffs between certain characters."

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