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Spider-Man: No Way Home (PG)

Starring Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau

Directed by Jon Watts

At the heart of Spider-Man: No Way Home is about Peter Parker (Tom Holland) learning that with great power comes great responsibility – the hard way, through guilt and grief. Peter Parker may have extraordinary gifts, but he’s still a teenager. Can he be trusted to exercise those without the guidance of experience and wisdom? In Homecoming and Far From Home, he found mentors in Tony Stark and Nick Fury (kinda), respectively. In No Way Home, however, he’s pretty much on his own. So he turns to the next grown-up, Dr Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), to get him out of a jam: to conjure a spell to undo the damage Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) did — exposing the Web-Slinger’s real identity — in Far From Home. (For the Sorcerer Supreme to tamper with the fabric of reality to solve Spidey’s PR crisis is strangely callous, no?) Alas, the plan goes sideways, unleashing a rogues’ gallery of villains from alternate dimensions (read: Spider-Man’s earlier non-Marvel Cinematic Universe iterations) — from the most menacing to the least, Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina), Electro (Jamie Foxx), The Lizard (Rhys Ifans) and Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) — a scenario not unlike the one in the Oscar-feted anime Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.  The ensuing bedlam is a meta-celebration of Spidey’s two-decade long big-screen legacy, rich in nostalgia, laden with in-jokes and callbacks. Though far from perfect (what’s with the dearth of female characters?), it’s still thrilling, fun, heartfelt and ridiculously satisfying. It’s a party where you come for the punch, but stay for the company. Trust me, there’s a certain sequence that’ll leave you gasping, cheering and crying (not necessarily in that order). And let’s just leave it that, shall we? Because this is a present for Spider-Man fans best opened in a crowded darkened hall. I’m tempted to call this Spider-Man: Endgame but it’s more, er, Spider-Man: Love, Actually. Did I just say that out loud? Happy holidays, y’all! (4/5 stars)

Photo: TPG News/Click Photos

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