Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse-2018
Director-Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, Bob Persichetti
Voices-Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Lily Tomlin
Scott’s Review #881
Reviewed March 30, 2019
There have been many film versions of Spider-Man. To my recollection the first series came in three installments and was directed by Sam Raimi: Spider-Man (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004), and Spider-Man 3 (2007) with Toby Maguire in the title role. These were the good, old, days. Andrew Garfield took over in 2012 and 2014 to mixed reviews before the super-hero was merged into Captain America and The Avengers films as well as one or two additional solo outings. This is where I lose track.
Finally, through all the incarnations comes the very first computer animated film based on the Marvel Comics character. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) was an enormous box-office success as well as a critical success winning the coveted Best Animated Feature Oscar. My choice would have been for the dark and sarcastic Isle of Dogs, but the former has impressive merits and grand animation that are astounding to the eyes. Towards the climax the film teeters into familiar and predictable territory from a story perspective though admittedly the super-hero and animated genre is not my most cherished.
Miles Morales is a Brooklyn teenager, bright, energetic, and likened to your average city kid. His father, Jefferson Davis, is a muscled policeman who is no fan of Spider-Man, the heroic masked man who prevents city crime outshining the cops daily. While close to his father, Miles is much more connected to his uncle, Aaron Davis, despite his father and uncle having a distant relationship. When Miles is bitten by a hungry spider he immediately begins exhibiting Spider-Man like abilities and stumbles upon others with similar stories.
The teen meets super-villain Wilson Frisk, (a not so subtle Donald Trump parody if ever I saw one) who is intent on accessing a parallel universe to retrieve his deceased wife and son. Events involving a USB drive and the “real” Spider-Man, Peter Parker, also living in a parallel universe come into play. The overly complex story is not the best part of the experience and I began losing interest in the how’s and why’s especially when compared to the escapist and marvelous super-cool animations.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse deserves some great praise for making the film’s central character ethnically mixed a (Hispanic and Black), never done before in franchise history. This diversity, evident in Black Panther (2018) is all the rage now in the super-hero genre along with gender equality in a once deemed “guy’s movie” slogan. This is a delight to witness with hopefully even more of a slant towards richer diversity. Are Asian, gay, or physically impaired character’s coming next?
The film looks amazing with creative and slick modern animation and graphics across the board that never waver throughout the entire nearly two-hour running time, lengthy for an animated feature. Styled and bright the film’s most brazen appeal is with its colors and shapes and sized. The metropolitan New York City is a treat to witness as the creators not only focus on Manhattan, but on Queens and Brooklyn, boroughs too often forgotten in favor of the glitz and bustle of Manhattan. The clever re-titling of FedEx trucks to Red Ex is a worthy mention.
With a glitzy look, fast-paced action, and interesting villains, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) is an impressive feat and a deep-dive into the possibilities of incorporating more of the super-hero and animated genres. This is around the corner due to the critical, audience, and awards notice that surrounds this film. If only the story contained more twists and turns and less standard genre-pleasing qualities, the possibilities would be endless.