Sam Thompson’s review published on Letterboxd:
I was extremely hesitant about this film due to what seemed to be overstuffed plot combined with the current state of the MCU. It seems like it could've suffered from the multiple villain problem that's been seen before in previous Spider-Man films or it could've tainted previous Spider-Man films.
Somehow this bold, risky beast of a narrative pays off in spades.
It's lowkey a miracle that this film is as good as it is with the task it set out to do. Everything comes together in such a compelling way that services character and narrative. It's genuinely unprecedented that this film works as much as it does because it is positively insane that all these parts of previous films have come together. It is not flawless as the first act is quite messy, not all the comedy lands and there are some minor plot progressions that you just have to go with but it is constantly picking itself up and soaring to new heights.
It does justice to the villains and their stories are interwoven with classic Spider-Man themes and character progression for Peter which is why they work so well. It is pure unadultered Spider-Man fan bliss when Garfield and Maguire show up becuase they knock it out of the park. The entire last half of this film, I was in complete and utter glee because it is so stacked with moments that'll make you wriggle and cheer in your seat.
It blows my mind that Andrew Garfield's Peter stole the show for me. He was always a good Spider-Man but was shafted by poor films and seeing his character here was so enjoyable because all his comedy lands. Perhaps my favourite moment in the film is when he catches MJ like he failed to do with Gwen. His face after is absolutely soul-crushing.
Tobey Maguire is also brilliant and I love the fatherly/brotherly vibe that these older Spider-Men have towards our main Peter. It is so heart-warming to see these three share pain and be there for one another through struggles that pretty much only they can understand.
I think the darker tone makes the film stand out amongst this trilogy (and a lot of the MCU) because the stakes feel much more real and consequential. This brings me to just how phenomenal Tom Holland was. He exceptionally portrays the hard trials Peter has to go through in the film and it makes for a emotionally riveting watch.
I love the end this movie holds for Peter. It absolutely nails the Spider-Man ethos. It perfectly captures the themes of 'with great power, comes great responsibility,' as we see Peter sacrifice his own personal life for the greater good. It is full of melancholy but it is done so beautifully. It ends at a starting point for Peter and I absolutely hope it continues on this path in following films because it really feels like Peter is turning into an actual man, and adult Peter Parker is just as captivating. I'm so unbelievably excited to see the future of this Spider-Man.
My favourite thing that this movie does right is its focus on character. Before giving us all the fan service, the filmmakers concetrated on telling a dramatic compelling story that fully understands the thematic nature of Spider-Man. It is not a perfect film, but for me, it is perfect entertainment.
No Way Home gave me everything I wanted and more, and I simply cannot wait to rewatch it because my little kid brain is still trying to comprehend everything.