Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse may just be the superhero movie you need to carry you through the rest of the year. Chock-full of breath-taking animation, witty dialogue and tense action scenes, Into the Spider-Verse feels like a comic book come-to-life on the big screen.
Into the Spider-Verse includes many spider-themed heroes, but the movie’s central story follows Miles Morales and his transformation into a new Spider-Man. Even though he has a host of new superhero problems to deal with, part of what makes him so engaging, in addition to some phenomenal voice acting from Dope star Shameik Moore, are the realistic struggles he deals with throughout the film. He may have great power and a few great responsibilities on the side, but he’s also a normal teenager dealing with a tough, embarrassing father and trying to fit in at a new school.
There are a lot of praiseworthy things in Spider-Verse, but I’d be a fool if I didn’t mention the stunning animation first. Two of the film’s three directors, Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsey, both established their careers working in the art department on films like Puss in Boots and Minority Report, and their attention to detailed design pays off here. Into the Spider-Verse utilizes a unique blend of 2D and 3D animation unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s slick, colorful and filled with little dots to give it a dynamic, pop-art feel. Thought captions and sound effect blurbs even pop-up on screen, grounding the advanced animation in the flat comic book universe it’s depicting. Not only does it look amazing, but the creators often mess with the animation style and quickly change the colors or focus to emphasize something. Even the way Spider-Man’s sensory powers are depicted, from little wavy lines over his head to a burst of color changes when he’s near another version of himself, shows that the creators believed no details were too small in terms of making this world and its characters stand out visually.
The casting in Into the Spider-Verse is superb, with each voice perfectly fitting their character. Moore turns in a wonderful performance as Miles Morales, bringing the new Spider-Man to the big screen for the first time. Moore is able to seamlessly flow between a sense of confidence and vulnerability that adds to Morales’ shaky journey of self-discovery as he tries to figure out his place in a spider-filled world. Morales certainly has his fair share of jokes, but the comedic center of the movie is the classic Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, or at least a schlubby version of him played by New Girls star Jake Johnson. Things haven’t gone too perfectly for this Peter Parker. He’s put on a few pounds and even separated from MJ, and yet the character is still as awe-inspiring and confident as ever as he swings around New York City with Miles. All of the alternative Spiders are funny and bring something to the table, but Nic Cage’s campy delivery marks Spider-Man Noir as a stand-out addition in an already hilarious film.
Using animation instead of live-action really allows each fight sequence to pop off the screen. The way each Spider-Man carries themselves in battle reveals something about their personality and it’s enjoyable to watch Miles slowly develop his own fighting style as he gains more experience behind the mask. Miles may be the star of the show, but the animation really allows Peter’s skills to shine through the most. Spider-Man is an incredibly agile, quick character, and sometimes his movements can’t be accurately reproduced in live-action. But here, Peter Parker is kicking at full velocity and forcing his body to do things that Tom Holland’s version of the character just can’t.
From a villain perspective, Into the Spider-Verse does a good job shining the spotlight on the lesser known members of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery. Ultimate versions of Green Goblin and Doc Ock appear in the movie, but its really Mahershala Ali’s Aaron Davis and Liev Schreiber’s Kingpin that lend the movie a tragic and menacing undertone. Anyone who knows’ Miles’ back-story knows how tragic Aaron’s part is, and the sense of pain and confusion that accompany this b-plot helps make Miles’ grande transformation feel more intimate and personally tragic. Aaron may play a villainous role, but it’s really at the beckoning of Wilson Fisk, New York City’s criminal Kingpin. While Vincent D’Onofrio’s take on the character in Daredevil is certainly intimidating, this animated, brutish version of the character is terrifying. Tremdenously voiced by Schreiber, the character is depicted as a hulking figure with hands the size of watermelons who can pick up buses and hurl them right at Spider-Man. Despite his monstrous attributes, he’s still the same emotionally vulnerable, desperate individual who is willing to do anything to see his family again. Kingpin’s plot may inadverdently threaten all of New York City , and potentially even the world, but it’s refreshing to watch a superhero movie where the villain is purely motivated from understandable, personal qualms instead of an incoherent desire to watch the world burn.
New York City is an essential element to countless Spider-Man stories, and the city certainly feels like a supporting character in Into the Spider-Verse. Miles, just like the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, is part of a community, and seeing him interact with random passersby makes his surroundings feel more real and lived in. The inclusion and focus on street-art and hip-hop also made Brooklyn, Miles’ home borough, feel more like a breathing, vibrant setting where Miles could really change and grow instead of a static place that capped his potential.
Underneath the grand, multiverse plot is a personal story that examines what it means to be a hero. Odds are there is another Stan Lee cameo or two hiding in wait, but I have a feeling this movie, and its up-close examination of what it means to be a hero, will be the Marvel film that really epitomizes what the late, great creator stood for. Superheroes are at their most interesting when they are real people with real problems under the suit, and Into the Spider-Verse has no problem peeling away the perfections and looking at what it truly means to be an inspiring hero like Spider-Man.
Final Score: 9/10
The 9 Best Things About ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’
Well, cowboys and cowgirls, Red Dead Redemption 2 is finally here. Eight years after the original title took the gaming world by storm, Rockstar is back with a prequel set ten years before the original. For people who like horses but may not want to ride them in real life, they’re in luck, because anyone who plays Red Dead Redemption 2 will be sitting on a horse for quite a while. As you pursue an outlaw life, jumping from town-to-town, players explore a world full of danger and excitement behind every corner.
Red Dead Redemption 2 has already broken pretty much every entertainment record imaginable. It’s had the most successful opening weekend for any entertainment product ever, so you don’t need to take my word on why this game is so good, just go look at the numbers. Underneath the massive, 60-hour story, is a beautiful world layered with complicated characters, powerful predators and painful memories. So, what are you waiting for, go jump on your horse and start playing this game!
Hit Next to discover the 9 Best Things about Red Dead Redemption 2!