(This post contains mild spoilers. Be warned this film contains some sequences of flashing lights that could affect those with photo-sensitivity.)
So, this week was weird. Deadlines got crazy. We had to prep and send out two papers this week instead of just one. And we’re going to have do the same next week. At least things ought to calm down after the New Year. But, I did get to see Spider-Man: Into the SpiderVerse and I only have one word:
This is a brilliant film, with great visuals, an awesome soundtrack, a well-paced and fast moving plot, emotional resonance…It’s easily one of the best movies, I’ve seen this year. It did not disappoint. If you haven’t, go…Now.
Spider-Man: Into the SpiderVerse is an incredibly ambitious film; it could have easily gone wrong. This could have been a truly terrible film, and not even in a so-good-it’s bad way. But this film? It’s going to change everything.
The movie manages to hit every point and do everything it wanted to do, and knocks it straight out of the ballpark. And it’s nice change from the superhero movies we’ve been getting (even though I haven’t seen most of them, I’ve heard and read enough about them to get the idea) and brilliant deviance, parody and subversion of what we expect from a Spider-Man film.
The film is focused on Mile Morales, an Afro-Latino kid from Brooklyn. He’s going to a new school for gifted kids (No not that school) and really isn’t happy about it. He doesn’t have a lot of friends and his main outlet is music, and graffiti, the later of which his cop dad doesn’t approve of.
However, his uncle, who his dad doesn’t like is happy to indulge his nephew’s creative endeavors. One night, while out with his uncle in the subway, Miles is bitten by a strangely-familiar (to the audience) but obviously very odd spider.
You know where this goes, right?
Or maybe not. You see, there’s already a Spider-Man in his universe, one Peter Parker. So when, Miles starts going through some odd changes that he wants to attribute to puberty but is pretty clearly him going through Spider-ubity….
And that’s when things take a turn for the crazy.
I won’t spoil it for you; but basically, the villain Kingpin has a machine that can open up portals to different universes and which happened to bring several other Spider-People to Miles’ universe. And they have to work together to stop Kingpin, before they disappear and they risk being wiped from existence.
Of course, there’s a bit more to it; Miles’ relationship with his family is explored; and if know anything about Spider-Man lore you’d know that it’s not a Spider-Man origin story without a tragic loss, and one that the hero attributes to their mistakes. After all, you can’t save everyone.
What I love about this movie is how it plays with the typical origin story; we get to see flashes of everyone’s origin story, and all the differences and similarities between them. It’s not quite a parody, much more of a loving homage to the hero.
Miles goes through all the right beats; unlike the other versions, Miles has an advantage in that he’s not his universe’s first Spider-Man, and he doesn’t have to figure all his powers alone. Sure, he has some unique powers, but he still has a whole team of mentors who understands exactly what he’s going through.
And I love it. The Spider-Fam has a great dynamic.
Even Peter Porker (who is a spider bitten by a radioactive pig) is interesting and isn’t just pure comic relief. He’s actually a decent threat, since he’s from a cartoon world, and is much more elastic than his team. They don’t over due him. And he’s even sympathetic to the other characters.
I was so worried he would be over-used and unfunny.
Spider-Man Noir is fine, but I can’t get over Nic Cage’s voice…I can only picture him as Nic Cage.
I love Peni Parker though. It might just be the weeb in me, but I want more of her. I know there is a female-Spider-Man spin-off planned for the future and I hope that she makes in an appearance in some way.
She’s my favorite of the Spider-Fam.
Mile, is of course, a great character. He’s very genuine and he stands out from the other spider-men and has his own story and personality; he’s smart and creative and interesting. He’s more socially adept than Parker, and is a slightly less tragic figure.
Peter and Gwen are great, but it’s hard to talk about them without spoiling anything. Gwen is great, and she and Miles are obviously headed towards a relationship. I’m glad that the movie didn’t force them into one by the end of this first movie, and we still get time to see their relationship develop.
Stan Lee’s main cameo as the store clerk was particularly poignant, considering the meaning behind his line, “It always fits, eventually” and his tragic passing last month. It left us with words of wisdom and imparted the main theme of the film; anyone can be behind the mask.
And I have to talk about the animation here:
It’s great. It manages to capture the style of comic books while still being extremely dynamic. The second trio, the comedic relief, stand out from the more dominant style, without clashing.
It’s creative, inventive and brilliant. I love it. And…I don’t know enough about it to get into all the technical aspects of the animation but I can tell the movement is amazing, the aesthetics are great, I’ve never seen anything like it and I want MORE.
It’s unique and really pushes the boundaries of CG animation. It’s great to get away from Pixar’s hyper-realistic looks with pores and individual hairs…It’s good to get something new.
Sony Animation is actually really good at making unique animation; it’s the plot and stories they have trouble with aiming; The Emoji Movie was downright terrible and the Hotel Translyvania series is fine, I don’t find the story unique.
Basically, there’s just a bigger range in quality, than Disney. But when they’re good, they’re freakin’ amazing. Like, if they made fewer movies but focused on making all their movies as good as Into the Spider-Verse, they’d be the new animation powerhouse and a legitimate threat to Disney.
The directors Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman and Peter Ramsey really know what they’re doing. Lord and Rothman, particularly are really good with this kind of creativity; they know how to combine action, and emotion with the right amount of “fan-service” without seeming pandering or over-the-top. They understand, appreciate and love the source material. They know the history behind the work, and understand why people love the story.
All of the Spider-Man references and parody are done smartly and lovingly. They don’t make fun of fans, they embrace them.
My only complaint is that there are so many things going on that certain bits don’t get enough attention. They’re not egregious. But Peni’s relationship wirh her robot doesn’t get alot of exploration. It makes the sacrifice made less emotionally resonant. And the weird three: Spider-Ham, Peni and Noir don’t get as much characterization beyond the basics.
I know they’re kind of comic relief ,so I’d love more of them and see a balance made between their humorous sides and their tragic stories, since they all kind of have the same basic tragic Spider-Man back story so I’d love to see that balanced. (A movie with all three would be cool. Especially since Peni and Noir seem to have a nice, big-brother/little sister dynamic happening)
Also, beware of the flashing lights, especially at the beginning. I didn’t see a warning when I saw it, but I’ve seen some theaters take initiative, which is good. Just be careful.
My only other complaint was the annoying little kid sitting further down the row who wouldn’t shut up. He wouldn’t stop asking; “Who is that?” “Why is he Spider-Man,” “Why is he sad?”
I have no problem with little kids at movies, especially at ones that are directed towards kids. But you should know your kid to know if they can handle a movie.
Then again, the couple seemed like the type who were there because they wanted to see Spider-Man and not for the kids.
But still. Great movie. I loved it. I’m definitely going to see it again, and I’m definitely going to get the DVD.
You should too.
(And stay for the post-credit scene)
And that’s the scoop!
Year of Release: 2018
Length: 117 minutes
Writers: Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman
Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld., Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Zoë Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn , Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber