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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Movie Review

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Movie Review

Rating: A- (Great)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Sony Pictures

The concept of Spider-Man, a superhero who swings through cities and can climb up any structure, is one that can lend itself tremendously to the unlimited medium of animation. Not only does Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse take full advantage of that, but the filmmakers have also lovingly crafted a film that incorporates the impressive comics history of the character. With the multiple Spider-People swooping onto the screen, directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman and the team at Sony Pictures Animation manage to craft a film that properly uses many of them. The decision to make the movie look like a comic book come to life also allows Into the Spider-Verse to stand out and represents a notable game-changer for computer animation.

Making Miles Morales the main character is a smart choice on the filmmakers’ part. After six films with Peter Parker at the centre, it’s good to see attention given to Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli’s popular and much admired creation. Miles makes for a likeable protagonist and the movie does particularly well in establishing his relationships and personality. There are already two big-budget live-action films that show Peter Parker getting accustomed to his spider powers and Into the Spider-Verse finds a fresh way to show Miles going through his own ordeals after getting bit by an arachnid. His interactions with a Parker from another dimension are well written, feeling like a natural mentor relationship.

Establishing the multiple dimensions featured in this movie is handled with ease and there is a lot of fun had with the various comic book styles. Sony Pictures Animation is a studio that has proven before how well they can adapt to different styles. With Into the Spider-Verse, they’re required to show a Looney Tunes-like cartoon pig in the same scene as a black-and-white noir detective and an anime girl and they pull it off tremendously. Spider-Ham particularly steals the show, with the animators pulling off the movements of a classic cartoon character. The action scenes are also directed spectacularly and even with so much going on and many high-flying heroes filling the screen, it never becomes overbearing and incomprehensible.

Screenwriters Rothman and Phil Lord fill the movie with plenty of in-jokes for the hardcore Marvel fans, but most of the humour won’t be lost on newcomers, either. However, there is a decent amount of emotion, with Miles given quite a few arcs that nicely tie together. The movie does a great job of showing the different bonds he has with his father and uncle and they’re developed quite well throughout the story. Like the many Spider-People, there are also a number of villains.Superhero films have often had difficulty dividing time between different antagonists as they fight for screentime and Into the Spider-Verse avoids that. The villains’ motivations make sense, with Kingpin’s being the strongest. Kingpin especially stands out in the character design department. He’s an example of how the directors and artists aren’t afraid of evoking the exaggerations common in superhero comics.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is like animation’s love letter to comic books, which is understandable as both mediums can be considered close cousins. There is so much invention and imagination on the screen, but when the movie is playing with alternate dimensions and sight gags, it never loses sight of the characters and especially why Spider-Man continues to resonate for somany people. It’s wonderful to see Miles Morales represented on the big-screen and there are multiple doors the folks at Sony Pictures Animation can go through in future installments. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man2 is probably the quintessential big-screen depiction of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s beloved web-crawler and Spider-Man:Into the Spider-Verse deserves to sit right alongside that film.

Stefan Ellison