Ever since comic book movies and TV shows have become popularized, there have been numerous Spider-Man releases; from the good Tobey Maguire/Sam Raimi Spider-Man films to the mediocre Andrew Garfield Amazing Spider-Man films, a wide range of releases have captured the character in many different styles and fashions. Therefore, when the new Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was announced, I, like many others, was very neutral on the subject. The trailers looked promising, but as of the last few years, a bit of a Spider-Man fatigue had set in, for I had seen the story told so many times before. Spider-Man: Homecoming was very good, but how many times can the same story be delivered to audiences in a slightly different manner?
An endless amount of times apparently, because Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is an absolute masterwork. All of the other Spider-Man films have focused on the character of Peter Parker, but this is the first to introduce Miles Morales as the protagonist. Yes, you’ve heard the story before: kid gets bitten by radioactive spider, his hands start sticking to random objects, he must learn to control his powers, etc, etc. This film, however, gives itself a considerable leg up from the other Spider-Man feature-length films by letting the audience know straight out the gate that they are aware the story has been told before. The filmmakers are more than aware that they are not the first to pave this territory, which means they are able to build off the conventional material to create more original extensions of the main characters.
By the way, Peter Parker is actually featured in this film via parallel universe along with Gwen Stacy, Noir Peter Parker, and Peter Porker (don’t ask). All of these characters are wonderfully introduced with sequences that reflect each other in structure, but add their own unique situation and humor depending on the character. Every character’s motivations are understandable, because they are all so similar, given they have the typical superhero backgrounds but just slightly altered due to the parallel universes.
However, these minor characters from other universes rightfully take a backseat to Miles Morales, who is one of the more likable superhero protagonists in the last couple years. His relationship with his father and his uncle are beautifully realized, and have brilliantly executed story arcs. The film also explores Morales’ inability to fit in, whether it be with his peers in the private school he doesn’t want to attend, or the fellow Spider-Men (and Women) who are more experienced than he is. Some of the arcs can be a little predictable, but as stated before, the movie isn’t about the predictability of the story, but the personal realizations along the way.
Not only does Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse succeed as a superhero movie, but it is also a tremendous comedy and animation film. This is far and away one of the funniest films of the year, having more self-aware humor than Deadpool 2 and better slapstick comedy than the last five Adam Sandler movies combined. I will be unnecessarily quoting this film out of nowhere at social situations for months, and I will never run out of funny moments to spout. There’s not a joke in the entire two hour run-time that doesn’t land, which is rare for any Marvel movie given their track record of injecting unnecessary humor into serious situations.
If Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse doesn’t win Best Animated Feature at the Oscars this year then there is no justice in the world, for this is the finest animation I’ve seen in years. The city scapes have so much detail in them that it’s hard to tell if it’s animated or if it’s really good CGI; the neon-lit color palette of the nighttime scenes creates a visceral experience that is unparalleled in today’s cinema. The action scenes are enthralling and have filmed Spider-Man in ways never even conceived of in live-action alternatives. While shown in the trailer, the shot where Spider-Man falls upside-down is magnificent, and there are similarly great shots when Peter B. Parker casually walks on the side of buildings.
There is not one misstep that the directors make here. The end message is perfect, and will make many kids seeing this with their parents feel special — like they can achieve anything if they try. The directors of this film also know exactly when to cut a scene. No scene lingers too long or goes by too fast, everything is executed in the exact perfect time. Whenever I finish a movie that I think is exceptional in every way, I always go looking for flaws, for no movie is perfect. Only a couple films have been released this year where I haven’t found any, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is one of them
This new Spider-Man outing is easily the best of all the Spider-Man films, and is also my personal favorite movie of this year so far (yes, I like this better than Avengers: Infinity War). Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is one of the biggest surprises of 2018, and will give moviegoers of all ages a cinematic experience that they will remember for years. See this on the biggest screen possible in order to get the full experience, and definitely stick around for the end credits, because this film has the funniest after-credits scene in years.
by Joel Alexander