Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman
Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velex, Zoe Kravitz, John Mulaney, Imiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine, Natalie Morales
PG for frenetic sequences of animated action violence, thematic elements, and mild language
Buy on DVD/Blu-ray
Outside of the occasional Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Sony Pictures Animation has been sitting at the nadir of feature animation since its earliest days. With Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, they’ve finally hit on a formula and a format that could presage a brilliant re-invigoration of their brand.
There have been few superhero films since the advent of the Disney/Marvel machine that have felt so genuinely unique and enjoyable. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse introduces Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) to the universe, an awkward High Schooler forced into a private school by parents wanting him to succeed, but without view of how the limited social interaction might stunt his growth as a human being.
After being bit by a radioactive spider, Miles finds himself awkwardly learning to control his powers. While trying to figure out what’s happening, he stumbles upon a sinister plot by The Kingpin (Liev Schriber) to conjoin universes and bring back his late wife and son. With each opening of the rift between dimensions, new Spider-folk from different universes are sucked into Miles’ and he must work with them to put a stop to Kingpin’s plans that risk the safety and stability of their own universe.
Working with Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) and Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), Miles is forced to come to terms with his inadequacies and his lack of confidence in time to save the universe. Other Spiders that he teams up with include Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), Peter Parker noir (Nicolas Cage), and Peter Porker (John Mulaney). Combined with the voice work of Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, and Lily Tomlin, the vocal performances are all terrific with Moore and Johnson leading the way.
The cast isn’t the only aspect of this film to shine as the superb script is just as critical. Written by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman, the film parallels the stories of each Spider-Person to our protagonist who, unlike the others, doesn’t have years of experience under his belt to enable him to participate with the efficiency or capability of them. It all sets up a compelling dynamic between the characters and helps the audience relate to the story.
Choosing to employ a comic book art style to the film was a risky bet as most computer animated films today have a very slick quality to them, but the decision more than paid off embellishing what felt like a tale pulled directly from the comics themselves, thrust onto the big screen.
The moments of pathos are supported by laugh-out-loud humor that leaves you wanting to watch it multiple times just to see if it all stands up to repeat viewing. It does. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is just as engaging the second time around.
While there might be more popular Marvel or DC films around, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse easily sits in the upper echelons as one of the best the genre has to offer. Hilarious, poignant, and thought-provoking, this film has everything one could hope for in the movies. It could even be ranked high in the pantheon of great animated films as well.
March 13, 2019