TL;DR – A masterpiece in animation, in incorporating comics into film,and exploring all the emotions, a must watch.
Score – 5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene and the credits are a technicolour dream coat
When I first heard that they were going to do a new Spider-Man animated film outside of the MCU I honestly didn’t have a lot of hope. It felt like a plan of a company that is trying to scramble while not doing anything new with a property that had stagnated for years. Then they announced that the story was from Phil Lord, and that piqued my interest, and then that first trailer dropped and I knew instantly that I was going to have to eat my words. Now that I have seen the movie proper I can honestly say that this is not only one of the best films of the year, but it might be the best superhero film I have seen in a while. This has been a bumper year for Spider-Man with Infinity War, the Spider-Man video game from Insomniac Games, but Into the Spider-Verse is the crown achievement and I have never been so glad to be wrong.
Now we are about to dive into the film and what I really liked about it, but if you can, it is best to go in as blind as possible, just know it is well worth the price of your ticket. So to set the scene, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is trying to navigate life in Brooklyn that is both familiar to use but also different because this is a parallel universe. He is someone who is going through a crisis of identity as he is starting in a new school away from his parent and friends. His father Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry) a police officer in the PDNY, and his mother Rio (Luna Lauren Velez)want the best for their son, even if it means he is away at school all week.Miles is trying to fit into a new school,but it is hard, so he slips out at night to visit his uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali) who does not really talk with his more straight-laced brother. Together, they go down into the subway to a cool wall Aaron knows about so Miles can create his art, little did they know that down in that subway there was also a spider,a spider that will change Miles’ life. Well after a day of sticking to random walls Miles goes back to find the spider only to hear commotion in the next room and finds that Spider-Man/ Peter Parker (Chris Pine) fighting the GreenGoblin (Jorma Taccone) in a big cavern full of machinery. As they fight the machinery is turned on and something weird happens, damaging the cavern and trapping Peter under metal, he gives a kill switch to Miles, and gets him to run as Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber) arrives and then everything goes wrong.Miles is trapped not knowing what to do, as he grieves for a life lost, someone he least expects arrives and his world is turned on its head again.
The first thing we absolutely have to talk about is the animation, because this is one of the best animated films I have seen in a very long time. The artists behind Into the Spider-Verse have created an animation style that blends worlds together. It blends traditional 2D animation with 3D sensibilities, it blends animated films with comic books,it blends fluid motion with a stop-motion feel. Blending this all together sounds like you would get a Frankenstein animation style, but no, what you get is a feel that I have never seen in animated films, something that feels brand new but also deeply rooted in the past.The only way you make this work is having an amazing vision, and finding the best artists in the business to bring it to life.
This film is dripping in stylistic choices that they did need to make, but enhance the film in every way. For example, we have the before mentioned comic book integration, that is used as both a framing technique for parts of the story, but also to make every moment of the film work to its best. This can be having Miles’ internal monologue/thoughts appear as if there were written in a comic, or to emphasise sound effects, or to make the action pop out from the screen. They also use this and other technique to make sure that there is not a boring transition in the film. It also allows you to experiment with the colour pallet, from the vibrant explosion of colours out the collider,the muted oranges of the birch forest, the sharp night sky, to whatever colour Miles can use to create his art. It is also helped because they have created a rich world full of texture that makes you fall into this world that they have created. You see that in the city design, the character design, the way they use Daniel Pemberton’s musical score to hit all the right notes.
Well,you can create a world, design a new animation style, but none of that matters if you don’t have characters that people care about and a story that captivates you. Now from this point onwards, we will be exploring some of the story elements of the film, so if you have not seen it this is your last warning that you might learn something you rather wouldn’t. Each character in this film (bar some of the underlings) feels like someone who has a real drive and an emotional core that feels right. Miles is that kid that is fighting between many different worlds, that has just had his life turned upside-downand does not know how to process it all, and this is all before that spider shows up. Each of the parallel universe Spider-Peoples has a core drive that is both engaging but also complements their style. Like Nicolas Cage just delving into that old-school hero with Spider-Noir, it was a dream to watch, or the strength that Hailee Steinfeld brings to Gwen Stacy. You feel that drive and connection in Miles’s parents, in his uncle, Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), AuntMay (Lily Tomlin) is a riot, even the more absurd Spider-Ham (John Mulaney) somehow fits. Even smaller characters like Doc Ock fell like completely realise characters, though this may be because casting Kathryn Hahn is always a good idea no matter the role. Then there is the reluctant hero/mentor Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) the Spider-man in sweatpants after a bad break-up, who finds a new purpose. Indeed, even our big bad Wilson Fisk, who is probably the most cartoony in the design of the main cast, still had an understandable drive behind his performance.These characters bring the world to life and make you want to see them succeed.
You have created a world, filled it with characters that have meaning, now you have to craft a story that combines this all together and gives an emotional heart to the film. This is a film that elicited so many different emotions from me throughout its runtime. There were moments when the cinema laughed so much the sound echoed off the walls and reverberated around the room, there were times when you had tears running down your face because of an emotional gut punch, and indeed times when you were laughing while the tears from the last gut punch were still wet upon your face.Indeed I should warn you that yes there is a Stan Lee cameo and yes it brings up as many emotions as you would expect. Part of why the script works as well as it does is because the writers get Spider-Man, there are nuances here that only could happen if there was someone deeply invested in this world who was set with the task of bringing it to like. I cared about the story because these felt like real people that just so happened to be able to swing from a web, you feel their pain and their joy, their anger and their jubilation.
In the end, do we recommend Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse? Yes, yes we do. This will undoubtedly be one of our films of the year and one of the best animated films I have seen in a while. One of the core driving themes in the film is that you need to take ‘a leap of faith’ and I think that is very much what happened when they commissioned the film, and I am so glad that they did.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations,or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Directed by – Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman
Story by – Phil Lord
Screenplay by – Phil Lord & Rodney Rothman
Based on – Characters created by Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Tom DeFalco, Gerard Way, Jake Wyatt, David Hine, Fabrice Sapolsky, Carmine Di Giandomenico & Mark Armstrong
Music by – Daniel Pemberton
Starring – Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Zoë Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine, Natalie Morales, Lake Bell, Oscar Isaac, Jorma Taccone, Joaquín Cosio, Marvin ‘Krondon’ JonesIII & Stan Lee
Rating – Australia: PG; Canada: PG;Germany: 6; New Zealand: PG; United Kingdom: PG; United States: PG