Saturday, December 22, 2018

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I never expected to see Spider-Ham show up in a theatrical film as a major supporting character. I also never expected Sony to outdo Marvel in producing the best super-hero movie of the year. These are but two of the wonders of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse which give us the origin story of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) as the new Spider-Man while also offering a few different versions of Peter Parker (Chris Pine, Jake Johnson, Nicolas Cage), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) and her robot, and Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) as heroes from other dimensions brought to this Earth to help Miles stop the Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) who threatens to destroy reality while furthering his own selfish desires.

With a visual style that looks and feels like a moving comic book, the film by directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman offers everything a Spider-Man fan could want (with the exception of not including the Scarlet Spider, sigh). While staying true to the original characters, small choices such as the breeze to blow Spider-Man Noir's (Cage) overcoat and adding ballet as a piece of Spider-Gwen's fighting style are genius.

While I have minor quibbles, such as the over-sized style of most of the film's villains (which look a bit too much like video game characters), the heroes are well-crafted and the use of comic books to help explain each of their origin's stories is yet another wonderful choice by screenwriters Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman. Johnson is fun as the older Peter Parker, reluctant to help train a new hero. Steinfeld is charming as hell as the heroine afraid to lose another friend. Moore is the heart of the film as a young hero struggling to accept his destiny while dealing with a complicated family. And Cage and Mulaney are there to provide some much needed comic relief when the story gets serious.

Not only a great film, the unique visual style of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is an amazing technological achievement of blending various elements in a way to insure that the film looks like a moving comic book. In terms of unique visual style that succeeds I can only compare it to Disney's Tron which also required artists to add to every frame of a film individually to create a singular movie experience. Added to this, the strong super-hero origin story plot, the amazing characters, and the kind of humor you would expect in a Spider-Man film (don't leave before watching the insane sequence at the end of the credits), all help Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to deliver one of the best movies of the year.

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