Excelsior! The Academy Award Winner For Best Animated Feature Proves That Disney Doesn’t Rule Everything And That “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse”, Is Just Like The Hero Himself Amazing & Spectacular
Move over House Of Mouse, if you don’t already know this past february Sony Pictures Animation proved that Disney isn’t the only animation house who can make a killer animated film. While Disney took home the prize nine times, including winning four years in a row, from 2008 to 2011. Sony Pictures has taken home the golden statue for best animated feature at the Oscars for “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse”, out beating Disney’s “The Incredibles 2” and “Ralph Breaks The Internet”.
You can simply call “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” amazing, spectacular or you can apply just about any or all of the Spidey adjectives. This Spidey movie is fun, wildly creative, beautiful and a breath-taking ride from start to finish. It’s incredibly thrilling to watch, impressively emotional throughout, and easily the best “Spider-Man” movie since Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” and “Spider-Man 2”. It captures so much of what has made “Spider-Man”, such an enduring character for more than fifty years. The plot dreamed up by Phil Lord and co-writer Rodney Rothman is both a love letter to “Spider-Man’s” legacy and a promise of future greatness.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” finally gives us the big screen debut of Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), the incredibly popular black/Latino Spidey who has been burning up the comics pages for years. Of course, there is a radioactive spider involved, it’s a high-tech version that bites Miles while he’s tagging walls with his beloved uncle Aaron (voiced by two time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali “Green Book”). It grants him all sorts of nutty arachnid abilities, some familiar, and some not so much. There doesn’t have to be only one “Spider-Man” in Miles’ world, and after a fateful encounter with the O.G. himself, Peter Parker (voiced by Jake Johnson “New Girl”), Miles takes up the mantle. It also puts him in the crosshairs of Kingpin (Liev Schreiber “Ray Donovan”), who hatches a desperate plan that somehow brings the arrival of multiple spider men and women into Miles’ world.
There’s the effortlessly-cool Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld “BumbleBee”); the grim, Bogart-esque Spider-Man Noir (voiced with peak Humphrey Bogart by Nicolas Cage); Peter Porker aka Spider-Ham (comedian John Mulaney), a cartoonish piglet with spider powers, Peni Parker an anime-inspired Japanese girl from the future with her android sidekick. An older, less motivated Peter Parker arrives, who has been worn down by the toll of being “Spider-Man” and the effect it has had on his life. Lily Tomlin even gives us a badass version of Aunt May (who I wish had a bit more screen time).
Parker becomes Miles’ Obi-Wan and their interactions are a running commentary on the various ways Marvel has depicted “Spider-Man” over the years. From what I researched because I don’t know the Miles Morales comic arc, it looks as the Miles Morales character was created basically to get back to “Spider-Man’s” young, free-swinging roots, at a time when the Peter Parker version had been around for decades, had grown up, been married and was going through all sorts of adult things that aren’t too fun to read about in comics.
Miles was a fresh start, and you get that feeling with “Into the Spider-Verse”, as well, But the story doesn’t brush Peter aside; it celebrates all that he’s been through and the experiences that turned him into a hero capable of inspiring someone like Miles. A theme that is often repeated and felt through the “Spider-Man” history is that anybody can be “Spider-Man”, that anybody can be a hero, and when the late great Stan Lee shows up and expresses those sentiments himself you will catch the feels.
The plot seems like it should be too much for one film to handle, while the storyline will be too much for the little ones to handle. The story moves at a breakneck pace and is so crammed with visual ideas and gags it’s hard to catch them all. “Into the Spider-Verse” wisely stays focused on Miles and his story, and uses all of the other characters for support. “Spider-Verse” even evokes a greater sense of tragedy than any other film in the series since Sam Raimi’s original.
Visually, “Into the Spider-Verse” looks like no other animated film you’ll see in awhile, or at least until the sequel. The colors are so vibrant they practically leap off the screen, it’s CGI mixed with an ace spray can inker’s line work. The visual style is breath-taking, looking like a comic brought to live with a dynamic mix of 3D animation and 2D. As I would never watch it in 3D in fear my brain might explode. It’s animated in a not traditional way, with directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman (whose résumé includes several years as head writer of “Late Night with David Letterman”) looking to comic books to form the visual thumbprint, creating a wonderland of panel-based framing, keeping the overall vibe distinctly urban. It’s a striking movie, with impressive attention to detail.
The trio of directors (which include Phil Lord and Chris Miller, writers/directors of “The Lego Movie” and “21 & 22 Jump Street”) to push the limits of what can be accomplished through animation. There are Easter Eggs galore for longtime Spidey fans and newcomers, while they keep the character designs to be mostly faithful to the comics. There’s great nods to Sam Raimi’s flicks too including a funny stab at the dance scene in “Spider-Man 3”. The geeky tangents can feel a little pushy at times, playing directly to the target demographic, but the spirit of “Into the Spider-Verse” carries the viewing experience through a few of the indulgent moments. Each version of Spidey has some trait that Miles can learn something from, with each getting their equal moments to shine, while Spider-Gwen is already prepping for a spinoff film.
It’s not just a solid piece of storytelling with a groundbreaking style: it’s also a great action movie. So much is happening and so much to take in that “Into the Spider-Verse” would have been ok if it didn’t run as long as it did, as it feels like there are more climaxes than necessary. It’s also such an incredible thrill that it feels as if you’re actually taking a journey into the splash pages themselves. The story moves quick and the action never stops. Also I should let you know that the films soundtrack is incredible, one of the best film soundtracks.
If you’re of the opinion that “Spider-Man” has been rebooted too many times in the last two decades, hold on as “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” introduces no less than seven new versions of the character within a single film. If anyone wants a really unique take on the genre, this is one to see. It’s a proper screen translation the web-slinger hasn’t enjoyed since director Sam Raimi was in charge of his cinematic adventures.
GRADE: ★★★★1/2☆ (4 & 1/2 Out Of 5)