Review: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
Studios should be embarrassed to attempt to follow this film with another Spider-Man film. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is not only one of the best Spider-Man films ever made, but one of the best comic book films and overall action-comedies ever made. With a sharp and witty sense of humor, this consistently amusing film left me laughing and smiling. The well-written characters rope you in, or web you in, to make for what is simply one of the best films of the year. Many films have tried to capture the feeling of a graphic novel or comic book film come to life, but few succeed like this. Directed by Peter Ramsey, Robert Persichetti Jr., and Rodney Rothman, Into the Spider-Verse is a fresh take on a well-known hero and manages to blow away the typical tropes of the genre for something daring and fun.
It all starts with the unique animation style. The neon-drenched CGI cross-stitched style is unlike anything I’ve seen in other animated films. It is gorgeous, working seamlessly with the action and manic physicality that defines the film’s humor and tone. It helps put a new perspective on old characters, and introduces new ones in memorable ways. The film also throws in speech and thought bubbles from time to time to maintain the comic book feel, and it uses them creatively to tease out how a comic book character ought to behave.
For big comics fans, Into the Spider-Verse offers plenty of deep comic references. From multiple versions of our titular hero to lesser-known villains and pop culture nods, Into the Spider-Verse feels culturally aware without falling into an overly-ironic winking manner that many self-referential films do. This is not a Deadpool film, and that’s a good thing. The filmmakers brought an intelligence and perspective to the story that lets the film stand out from the wave of comic book adventures dominating the box office today.
The film isn’t afraid to go crazy. As much as I like a typical Marvel film, I can admit that the plots can be somewhat repetitive. This film has a different sort of plot that evolves in an organic manner and maintains a great sense about what a superhero film is supposed to be. The film also develops its characters very well. From Jake Johnson‘s older, grizzled Peter Parker to Shameik Moore‘s young enthusiastic Miles and the always great Mahershala Ali as Miles’s Uncle Aaron, the film’s great voice cast brings these people to life. The family relationships feel true to life, as does Miles’ struggles to learn the ropes as a Spider-Man. Plus, we get to see Liev Schreiber stretch out with a fun New York accent as the Kingpin and Nic Cage play it up as the Spider-Man Noir.
The characters and messages that really cement Into the Spider-Verse as something special. Miles Morales is a character unfamiliar to most non-comic fans at this point, but he’s been a popular addition to the comics since his introduction. He’s definitely not Peter Parker, but he’s a compelling character, and the themes of family that float throughout his story help make him a distinctive Spider-Man. This film remembers why people like heroes, but also dares to say that super-heroes aren’t special and the world is better for it.