Not your typical Spider-Man film.
Synopsis: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the creative minds behind The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, bring their unique talents to a fresh vision of a different Spider-Man Universe, with a groundbreaking visual style that’s the first of its kind. Spider-Man™: Into the Spider-Verse introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales, and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where more than one can wear the mask. (Sony Pictures)
Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, and Hailee Steinfeld
Writers: Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman
Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman
Rating: PG (United States)
Running Time: 117mins
Here we go again with another Spider-Man origin story of sorts but this one gets away with it based on the fact its not about Peter Parker this time around and its animated. Perhaps those choices were for the best as Into The Spider-Verse is one of the best cinematic offerings in the Spider-Man universe. Those familiar with the comics will find plenty to enjoy here as it tells the story of a character widely known among those circles in a Brooklyn teen named Miles Morales (Moore). After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Morales developed powers. Fortunately for him, he didn’t have to face these new powers alone as he stumbled across several individuals with the same powers as him.
As the title implied, the Spider-Verse was the big selling point here and it definitely delivered. Of course, more avid comic book readers will get the references from the other universes and the subtle differences between them right away but the film gives viewers more than enough to feast on. Thanks to the different universes, Morales found himself under the tutelage of Peter Parker (Johnson) while also encountering other various spider-people, the next more ridiculous than the last. Though it would have been nice to see more of them beyond some fun origin stories, the film balanced them all in a smart enough way, playing their quirks off of each other in often hilarious ways.
At the end of the day, this was a story about self-discovery that was compelling to watch throughout. Sure, this has been done in several Spider-Man films before but there was just something about a different main character that made it feel fresh again. Having Parker and the other spider-people alongside didn’t exactly hurt either. The story may have been predictable for the most part, however, it was still incredibly fun to watch with the chemistry between Morales and Parker being the highlight.
This film’s depiction of Parker was unlike any other Spider-Man film. This Parker has already been put through the paces so we met him at a much different stage in his life than we are used to seeing. He was a complex character who was mostly the comic relief here but there was still plenty of pain beneath the surface. Perhaps that made him a little jaded. Regardless, he, Morales, and the other spider-people would have to come together to take on Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) and his many familiar minions. There would be a reason for his evil plan, however, it didn’t really matter all that much.
The animation style here is distinctive, giving it a comic book feel, but don’t be alarmed. Though it may make you second guess whether you remembered to grab 3D glasses on several occasions where fast movement is involved, it is very much a 2D film (at least I saw it in 2D). Ultimately, this was just a slight negative that became easy to get used to. Despite this, the animation dig a great job at bringing all the spider-people and their abilities to life, using different animation styles for each character.
The best part of the film was the voice acting but it would not have worked as well as it did if not for the sharp script. Everyone was great for the most part but Moore and Johnson stood out more as Morales and Parker respectively. Moore was near-perfect as Morales’ youthful exuberance and vulnerability. Johnson was hilarious while single-handedly carrying Parker solely on his natural charm. Finally, being a superhero film, expect a post-credit scene at the very end. The film is already on the long side for an animated film, clocking it at just under 2 hours, but it will definitely be worth the wait as it is one of the best ones ever. Also, the running time may seem long, however, it was never an issue as the time will simply fly by.
Overall, this was an excellent animated film that may have you second guessing about grabbing 3D glasses at times. Despite this, Spider-Verse is one of the best if not the best Spider-Man movie featuring not only a fresh but also sharp and compelling origin story full of wit, hilarious meta humor, and perhaps the best post-credit scene. Though it may be long for an animated film, it’s definitely worth it.
*Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse opens on December 14th*