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Many reviews start out with a variation on the phrase “you’ve never seen anything like this” and, upon seeing the reviewed film, one may say to one’s self, “I’ve seen many, many things like this.” In the case of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse “you’ve never seen anything like this” might be true.
Bold, inventive, involving and charming, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is such a delightful film that it entices you to want to line back up, purchase another ticket and see it again. Within moments of the movie’s opening scenes, I was wondering, with all the technological skill and acumen at work in cinema these days, why this movie was not mounted as a live-action project for, surely, the fact that it is an animated movie will significantly limit its box office potential and draw. Anyone who reads my reviews knows that I am a fan of all things comic book in the movies and that I truly enjoyed the latest Spider-Man film Spider-Man: Homecoming. I write this with little fear of being contradicted: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a far more fun and fulfilling movie than that one on every level.
Into the Spider-Verse just works. The visuals work. The story works. The soundtrack works. The humor works. The drama works. The family narrative works. It all works.
The movie tells the origin story of Miles Morales and how he becomes Spider-Man. “Wait,” you might be saying, “Miles Morales? Where’s Peter Parker?” Don’t you worry. Peter Parker is here, too. In fact, a couple Petes show up and, when they do, Into the Spider-Verse does not get bogged down into explaining why they have shown up when they have or why these particular spider-people have made the scene. It simply tells its story trusting that its audience is smart enough and willing to follow along. If you are not in those categories, 1) you may not have a soul and, 2) this is not the movie for you. Into the Spider-Verse does a quick and brilliant job with the superhero origin story but does so from the perspective that the audience has seen this before and doesn’t need to know about why there are radioactive spiders or women spider-people or spider-pigs for that matter. It just wants to sweep the audience up in its story and it wildly succeeds in doing so.
At the core of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a story about family. Miles Morales is like many young people – loving his family but slightly embarrassed by them at the same time, craving his independence but reliant on advice from his elders. He does not know quite who he is or what he will become, but he is engaged in the process of finding out. That he is given superpowers at the same time is just one more problem to handle.
Miles Morales is a Spider-Man for our times, a mixed-race teenager who does not want the power when he receives it, is afraid to tell his parents what has happened to him (because, of course, he gained his power while doing something he should not have been doing) and simply wants to help – to do good. We can use more stories about characters like Miles and I hope we get them.
The voice cast featuring standout work by Shameik Moore as Miles and Jake Johnson as an aging Peter Parker are terrific. Listen for the voices of actors having a blast in this one. There are more than a handful that will surprise you. The direction by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman is terrific and the movie takes the audience on a wonderful, break-neck paced joy ride that one does not wish to end too soon. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse might be (might be!) the best superhero movie released in 2018…
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE receives FIVE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-PIGS out of a possible FIVE