- Movie Rating -

Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse

| December 14, 2018

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse is no less than the seventh Spider-Man feature film to be released in this millennium and watching it you realize how many of those live-action films are basically carbon copies of each other.  Spiderverse sets itself apart not just by being animated but by being a colorful 124-minute carnival of creative thinking.  The filmmakers are clearly having fun playing with the animated form, moving from 2D animation to 3D animation and also mixing up tone and form and texture that make you feel as if you’re looking at a living breathing comic book.  When young Spider-Man runs down the street, the thoughts in his head are displayed in thought-bubbles that pass by him like pedestrians.  The movie is full of tricks like that.  It is constantly moving, wonderfully alive and always coming up with a new visual trick.

What is clever is the meta ways in which the movie plays with all different combinations of Spider-Man that have cropped up over the years.  Peter Parker, you might like to know, is not the center here.  No, instead the mantle of the Spider-Man is handed over to Miles Morales (voiced with a lot of heart by Shameik Moore), a teenager whose meeting with that fateful radioactive spider is surprisingly brief – the filmmakers know we’ve seen it before so they acknowledge it and move on.  Without giving too much away, let’s just say that Miles meets his Yoda-like Peter Parker (nicely voiced by Jake Johnson) who is, let’s just say, from out of town.  Young Milkes is also introduced to Spider-persons from all across the multi-verse: Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), a 2D anime version named Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) and a 1933 noir version voiced by Nicholas Cage.

What sets this adventure apart from the previous films is that there’s a massive learning curve.  Yes, Miles gains the power to do whatever a spider can, but he has to fall before he can get back up.  There is a lot of time given over to his education about his powers – a lot of valuable time.  It’s wonderful how much time the writers give us in building Miles as a character before and after that radioactive bite.

It is hard to really discuss the plot here without giving too much away, but lets just say that the villain, Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk is in possession of a device that will reign destruction across the multiverse – that’s actually the least interesting part.  Yes, the villain wants to destroy everything for his own selfish ends but it’s just a requirement, a backdrop to a visual palette that ever stops moving and never stops reinventing itself.  The film throws so many visual tricks at you that you are almost required to see it again to catch all the references that fly by.

This not a movie that you might object to seeing twice.  It’s a great deal of fun, and probably what we need right now.  After the dark, broody landscape of Venom and Avengers: Infinity War it could use some levity – and some creativity.  This is the best superhero movie of the years, the best animated movie of the year and it’s such a breath of fresh air.  The creative team – most of which worked on The LEGO Movie – have put their heads together and created a visual feast of such generosity and creativity that you can’t help but want to see it again.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2018) View IMDB Filed in: Animated, Kids