Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) Review
Rated PG – IMDB
I am a huge Spider-man fan. Let’s get that out of the way. However, I have never fully embraced the films. There have been plenty but none of them every seemed quite right. Homecoming came close. When I heard there was going to be a new animated film starring a Spider-Man not named Peter Parker, I assumed it would fall in with the rest of the films. How wrong was I? Very.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse follows the beginnings of Miles Morales. Miles is your regular, distracted teenager with loving but overbearing parents, and who attends an elite prep school he wants out of. He also idolizes his bad boy uncle, Aaron. As you can predict, Miles is bit by a spider. Miles then uncovers a plot to open up a multiverse which in turn could threaten his home of New York City. As a result of a rip in the multiverse, Miles meets other individuals with similar powers (including Peter Parker). Thus begins the journey of rag-tag group of spider-powered folks racing across Brooklyn in an attempt to save reality and return home.
Where to start? This movie is not only a great Spider-Man film, it’s a great super hero film. Sure, it’s an origin film — we see these a lot. However, there’s a wackiness to this one that makes it more than just another super hero origin. Miles does experience tragedy but this story is unlike what we have seen before. It also helps that Miles is different yet the same as Peter Parker. Miles is cool yet through some mishaps at his prep school, comes across as a dork. He’s also rebellious but has a good heart. Basically, he’s a teenager. Miles is the perfect person to carry the mantle of Spider-Man. He’s not a carbon copy of Peter Parker, he’s his own man. His desire to do good but keep a sense of humor is what makes him feel right as another Spider-Man.
The rest of the Spider-verse residents finally get some silver screen time. We get an older but not exactly wiser Peter Parker. Jake Johnson (the New Girl) does a great job giving us a very world-weary Peter Parker without being whiny. The other standout is Spider-Gwen. Hailee Steinfeld turns in an excellent performance at the ever popular Spider Gwen. John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, and Nicholas Cage round out the cast as Spider-Ham, Sp//dr and Spider-Man Noir.
Let’s not forget the villains; there are plenty here. Some standouts are Kingpin and the Prowler. The Prowler has a special connection to our hero, but I won’t spoil it here. He also gets some creepy intro music whenever he’s on screen. Liev Schriber voices the Kingpin who isn’t exactly like Netflix’s Kingpin but he’s every bit as ruthless. All the villains shine here though, because they’re actual bad guys. There’s no sympathy with these characters — they are out to do bad. They are still well-rounded but the villainous nature shines through giving this film some real stakes.
The real star here though, is the animation. Sony utilizes a style of hand drawn characters and scenes then laying CGI over it. Over 140 animators were used for this film: the most Sony has ever used on one of their films. The end result is a three-dimensional comic book for the audience and it’s an amazing feat to behold. The style really draws you into the story and is a perfect fit for this universe of characters. Even the storytelling utilizes other comic book elements such as panels and dialogue boxes. Other films have used those elements such as Sin City and Ang Lee’s Hulk film. However, Spider-verse really embraces it, and it pays off.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse is a special film. Everything from the story to the characters to the animation, really hooks the audience. We have finally gotten a film that truly captures the nature of Spider-Man. However, I don’t believe were told “with great power, comes great responsibility” in this film — instead we’re shown it by the actions of the characters and that message sticks. While Spider-Man and his companions face great odds, it’s OK to laugh, too. Humor was something that was never front and center in other Spidey films, but we get plenty of it here. Sony has already announced a sequel and a spin-off. We won’t have to wait long, hopefully, to get back into the Spider-verse!