I know exactly what you are thinking: Do we really need more Spider-Man movies?
That question came along when young Tom Holland took on the mantel for last year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. In fact, the question came along when Andrew Garfield led the Amazing reboots back in 2012. (Actually, we were pondering the importance of Spider-Man back when the abysmal third film happened and Peter Parker thrusted his crotch at us in big screen glory.)
Regardless, Sony and Marvel have decided that we still haven’t had enough of the web-slinging hero. Or even his world, with action/romantic comedy Venom coming out a mere few months ago.
Despite all this, the animated romp Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is exactly what we need to re-energise the friendly neighbourhood hero.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse revolves around the second person to take on the blue and red spandex mantel in Ultimate Marvel – Miles Morales. The highly-intellectual young boy is caught between his parent’s high expectations as well as wanting to do ordinary youngster things like slack-off or sneak out of his boarding school. When Miles and his Uncle are “vandalising” a disused train station, Miles is bitten by a radioactive spider. Confused by the turn of events, Miles goes searching for answers and winds up in the middle of a multi-universe plot that spits out different iterations of Spider-Man. Together, they must put the world back in order.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has three directors, five producers, two screen writers, and stars a whole heap of voice-acting talents as well as several different Spider-People. That’s a lot of plates to keep spinning for nearly two hours of run time. Which it does. Which it does so gloriously well.
The focus on Miles Morales, voiced by Dope’s Shameik Moore, grounds the Spider-Man legend in a modern day tale. Here is a kid who is caught between many different worlds; a black and Hispanic mix-raced teenager who is smart but also is willing to break the rules, under the influence of his police-officer father and his slacker uncle. A young adult who is thrust into this responsibility and now has several voices urging him to do the right thing. Morales makes a fascinating character to lead this heroic journey. With Moore’s earnestness aiding to an impressive, depth-filled arc, Morales levels up much more than we’ve seen Parker do on screen.
That’s not to say Parker is any less of a character here. In fact, we get two different versions of him on-screen and each comes with their own struggles and plights. Voiced by both Chris Pine and Jake Johnson, it’s easy to see which is used for comedy and who isn’t. The actors play the epitomes part well. Speaking of the voice cast, it’s a stellar one that consists of Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Haliee Steinfield, Kathryn Hahn, Kake Bell, Nicolas Cage, John Mulaney, and Liev Schrieber.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is imbued with self-referential humour that isn’t afraid to poke fun at even itself. Yet unlike Lord and Miller’s rambunctious films The LEGO Movie or 21 Jump Street, the comedy rarely overrides the heart of the story. So whilst you may laugh at Mulaney’s Spider-Ham, an imitation of classic Warner Bros cartoons, or giggle at the super-serious black and white Spider-Noir (Cage imitating the likes of Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney) there is a substantial amount of emotion as Morales learns his own important Spider-Man lessons.
There’s also great action sequences and peril. Utilising the style of Morales’ co-creator Sara Pichelli’s, Spider-Verse is an absolutely spectacle of colour exploration. With animators working on a second a week, the hard-work pays-off here. The inventive explosion of colour is masterfully handled. It’s unique, and highly beautiful. The striking array of scenes is a feast for your eyes.
This review doesn’t do this film much justice, I can honestly tell you that this film is superb. It is beyond the Spider-Man lore, bringing together old familiar beats and brand new ones all at the same time. It’s as good for adults as it is for children, with many people hanging on through a great credit sequence to an impeccable end-credit sting. Every plate is spun amazingly by passionate and determined creators.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is smart, energetic, and visceral….and I cannot wait to watch it again.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now