Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, and stars the voices of Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Zoe Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, and Liev Schreiber.
In the two and a half years that I have been writing on this blog, I have somehow avoided ever discussing a movie that is centered on Spider-Man. The closest I've ever come to talking about the web-slinging superhero is Tom Holland's Spider-Man in his supporting roles in Captain America: Civil War and in Avengers: Infinity War. So I find it pretty amazing that the first true Spider-Man movie that I get to review is not only one that I am already declaring to be one of my favorite Spider-Man movies ever, but one of the most terrific animated movies that I have experienced in a theater within the past few years. I swear, it should be a crime how much spectacular fun Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is.
The film tells the story of teenager Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), who looks up to Spider-Man but struggles to adapt to his new boarding school living arrangements. Unlike Miles, his parents, Rio Morales (Luna Lauren Velez) and Jefferson Davis (Brian tyree Henry), despise Spider-Man and view the superhero as a public menace. Miles looks to his uncle Aaron Davis (Mahershala Ali) for guidance and advice, and Aaron responds by giving Miles the encouragement to pursue his passion for drawing graffiti. Aaron takes Miles down to a subway station where Miles can draw to his heart's content. After finishing his drawing, Miles is bitten by a radioactive spider and develops spider-like abilities. Later on, Miles heads back down to the subway station to find exactly what bit him and gave him his new spider powers. Miles not only finds the spider, he also stumbles across a secret laboratory being run by Wilson Fisk a.k.a the Kingpin (Schreiber). Kingpin has built a particle accelerator that is capable of accessing parallel universes, but Spider-Man arrives to disable the accelerator.
The accelerator malfunctions, and Spider-Man, having sensed that he and Miles are alike, gives Miles a USB drive that will shut the accelerator down for good. Kingpin shows up and kills Spider-Man, but Miles escapes. Understanding the task he has been given, Miles attempts to master his new spider skills, but to no avail. Another Peter Parker, a more cynical, out-of-shape Spider-Man from a different dimension, shows up and explains to Miles that the accelerator brought him to Miles' dimension. As it turns out, he's not the only Spider-Man to be brought to Miles' dimension; other Spider-people brought to Miles' dimension include Spider-Woman (Steinfeld), Spider-Man Noir (Cage), Spider-Ham (Mulaney), and Peni Parker (Glenn). Together, these spidey-folks must find a way to stop Kingpin from reactivating the accelerator and get back home to their respective dimensions.
I love and adore this premise, not just because it lends itself to some wacky looking visuals and eccentric storytelling, but because of how it takes various forms of the same superhero and brings them all together to collaborate. Yeah, it was cool to see all of Marvel's heroes join up and work together in the Avengers movies. When was the last time though, that you remember seeing several different Iron Mans or Captain Americas getting together? All of the Spider-people in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse have virtually the same powers, but there's enough of a twist to each of them so that each one feels special in their own unique way. Miles can turn invisible, Spider-Ham brings a Looney-Tune presence to bolster the film's animation tactics, and Spider-Man Noir is voiced by Nicolas Cage. There's something to like about every rendition of Spider-Man on display here, and the film takes the smart approach by not letting the Spider-characters and their quirky personalities overtake the film's storytelling.
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has an animation style that is extremely well-suited for a comic book adaptation, sometimes looking as if it has blurred the line between live-action and animation. The movie loves to throw in little comic book intricacies to make certain scenes look like they came right off a comic book panel, such as giant block words like AH-AH-AAAH! and also little text boxes showing the dialogue that the characters are speaking. The characters also move around without any kind of motion blur, which is quite impressive given that the majority of them are web-slinging through the air, sometimes slinging their way past moving vehicles near the ground. In terms of pure visuals, everything looks like a masterful CGI watercolor painting, vastly different from anything that Disney and/or Pixar have been able to do in recent years. Are we sure this is the same Sony Pictures Animation that released those two live action Smurfs films and the crime against humanity, The Emoji Movie? It's like Hayao Miyazaki stopped by to visit for a few days and gave the animators some pointers as to what to try on their upcoming projects.
- I honestly can't think of anything that irritated me about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but I can say that the movie gave me a bit of a splitting headache when I got home. Some visuals like the bright lights generated by Kingpin's accelerator are pretty garish, making some of the scenes a bit of a pain to watch. I would say that's a bit of a critique on the film's bright color designs: you shouldn't have to look away for a few seconds just to let your eyes recover from the luminous assault that they're being subjected to. When a film is as fun and engaging as this one is, you will want to savor every second.
When I saw the trailer(s) for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for the first time during the previews for some other movie that I went to see, I was surprised, because the trailer actually got me excited to go see the movie as soon as it came out. Nowadays, movie previews in a theater are just white noise to me. I am glad to say that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was everything that I hoped it would be: stunning animation, memorable storytelling, loads of good, well-timed humor, and above all else, pure fun. Fun is the very first thing that a movie whose premise is, "Spider-heroes from different dimensions all come together to face a common enemy" should be. It's one of the most science-fiction heavy premises for any superhero movie in the past several years, and the way it's presented is a big part of what makes Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse stand out from the crowded field that is Spider-Man movies and television series. It will leave you begging for more, and future films in this Spider-Man world is what it looks like Sony will be giving us. It's not every day that we should be requesting for sequels and spin-off, but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, however, is one of those rare times. What a way for Sony Animation to redeem itself.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: