Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Review
Who knew all that needed to be done to fix the Spiderman universe and restore the character to its original glory was to INCREASE the number of Spidermen? Add a Spiderwomen? And a Spiderrobot and a Spidercartoon and a black and white Spiderman? Well, whoever knew that has to be a genius. And they are the directors, writers, producers and every single animator/visualizer who has ever worked on Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse.
From the makers of the lukewarm The Amazing Spiderman and it's horrendous sequel comes a Spiderman film so unique, pathbreaking and full of heart that all you can do is let all your skepticism fall away from a great, great height and sit there with your eyes wide from disbelief, your mouth a constant wide grin, a striking resemblance to your much younger self when laughter didn't used to be a rare, precious commodity that you take out and use only occasionally, when you used to sit transfixed in front of your TV watching your favorite cartoon and didn't have a care in the world.
For me, the childhood feeling is further cemented by how much this film took me back to the 90s animated Spiderman TV series that used to be my absolute obsession. Kingpin, Vulture, Doc Oc, Rhino and that silver guy with funny hair whose name I can't remember - and there was Spiderman. Wisecracking and fighting villains by the dozen every episode during the times when shared universes didn't mean anything.
The new Spiderman film goes a step further and introduces a Spiderverse full of Spidermen from alternate dimensions who come together due to Kingpin's nefarious plans. What's so amazing is that directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman, and writers Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman flesh out each of these band of misfit Spiderpeople so well that there's no mistaking them for each other, despite the same superhero identity. They are all important and they are all familiar to us instantly. They each come with their well-documented backstory that's extremely cleverly put in, they have their own separate attitudes about their job as a superhero, and some of them don't even belong to the same species. Add to that, the animation of each of them, and of everything around them, is majestic to the point of magic.
The narrative and the animation are so irreverent, unrelenting and unstoppable that it sends you into a sugar rush: everything is frenetic and kinetic and absolutely awesome. Every single frame of story and style is filled with such engenuity and eagerness that the first Sam Raimi Spiderman film had, which was/is/was/is the best Spiderman film to date.
I wouldn't want to mention any specific names of animation artists who have worked on this film in whatever position because every single person who worked on this deserves immense credit for conceiving and executing a film that is the work of pure imagination stemming from unadulterated love for the characters and the universe it creates. It's an ode to the comic books that originated all these characters, vibrant and breakneck and colorful and character-driven, with Miles Morales's thoughts and insecurities neatly typed out in dialogue boxes for us to read, along with all the "poof!" and the "clack clackity clack" sound effects.
Each of the cast brings so much to their parts with their individual voice personalities. The directors have chosen such unlikely actors for superhero parts, which is how it's supposed to be for Spiderman. The character originally is supposed to be an ordinary guy/girl/pig who gets the gift of superpowers and that's the effect each of the actors in the cast bring to their characters. Shameik Moore is endearing as the Miles Morales, a black teenager and the protagonist of this film. He is so easy to root for and the way the character brings out the shades of black identity is strongly complimented by Moore's vulnerable teenager take. Jake Johnson is so charmingly ordinary that you have to keep laughing at his self-deprecating over-confidence.
There's too many other great actors and acts in this film to mention everyone but it makes for incredibly fun viewing when the essential differences in each of their personalities come together in elaborately and intricately designed action scenes that are so dense and yet never hard to follow. In fact, the way each character's action moments are choreographed and animated is also so unique to that personality that you're constantly with them in every moment.
The writing is great, the animation is stupendous, the acting is stellar, the soundtrack choices are on point, the direction is extravagantly creative and there are many, many Spiderpeople. There isn't a moment to skip in this film and there isn't a moment to blink. Just turn yourself back into the cartoons-and-comics-obsessed child you once were (and take your child along, if you have one) and go glue your eyes to the screen figuratively.
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