Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse: 6 Spiderman Movies in 1
Spoiler Alert: As per the usual, I will be hinting at events that happen throughout the film. There have been approximately 8,203 Spiderman films over the course of the past few decades, so you probably already get the gist of what these movies are usually about. Still, if you plan on watching this film, read the “Too Long; Didn’t Read” synopsis and my “Oscar Watch” analysis instead.
TL;DR Score and Synopsis: 90/100 – A one of a kind thrill ride with deceptive depth.
To the Review!
Few fictional icons over the course of the past few decades have seen as many renditions and spin-offs as the “Spiderman” franchise. From comic books, to cartoons, to six live action movies since 2002, to a hilarious cameo in “The Simpsons Movie”, anyone claiming Hollywood lacks proper representation of radioactive spiders in their films either lives under a rock or has a really odd fetish for friendly neighborhoods.
Directors Peter Ramsey, Robert Persichetti Jr., and Rodney Rothman clearly understood the fatigue behind the abundance of these movies and decided to have some fun with it. Their rendition followed the development of teenager Miles Morales, his journey to becoming “Spiderman,” and the merging of six different universes with six different Spider heroes (AKA, the “spider-gang”). The three directors took no prisoners and did a marvelous job of straddling the line between poking fun at the quirkiness of the franchise, while also paying its proper tributes to everything.
From an aesthetics standpoint, the graphic novel style animation invigorated the entire tone of the film. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and it helped craft the movie into something special. Sometimes certain effects seemed blurry, though that barely detracted from the film. Everything felt entirely fresh, with the animation serving as one of the prime reasons why that was the case. It captured the essence of how comic book movies ought to be. The soundtrack was also straight fire.
In past reviews, I complained a decent amount (by “decent amount,” I actually mean “incessantly and obnoxiously”) about films having “too many characters” and “too many confusing plotlines” (see: “Widows” and “Bad Times”). In this instance, “Into the Spider-Verse” possessed the potential to fall into this trap. However, they avoided it immaculately. Not only did I have no issues following the storyline, but almost every character in the movie possessed fascinating depth, all members of the spider-gang included.
I loved the way they introduced all of the different characters from various universes, with each one possessing a “similar but different” origin story. The shout out to “Spider-pig” was hilariously awesome (“The Simpsons Movie” lives on), and while I enjoyed the diversity of the whole squad, my favorite Spiderman was definitely “Spider-Man Noir.” I did not know what to expect from this one, but he stole the show from a comedic standpoint with every line. Seriously, look at a picture of him below and try to tell me there was no comedy potential there.
The way “Into the Spider-Verse” used these backstories in both an entertaining and emotional aspect drew me in. None of them took their origin stories particularly seriously. But eventually, out of nowhere, they hit you right in the feels-- Mike Tyson style. They all came together over their unique hardships, bonding together as the film progressed. This mantra they presente-- that no matter how different we are from others, we can still come together over our commonalities--was a refreshing message. Whether they were cracking jokes with one another, or speaking from the heart, the banter/chemistry between all of them was incredibly genuine, with each one of them bringing something new to the table.
Every character was developed well. From the heartwarming dynamic between Miles and both his father and uncle, to the villain, Kingpin, each person had their own respective motives that gave them nice human touches. I sympathized with just about everyone to some degree.
Certain villains seemed to just kind of “be-there,” but I let that slide, because A) they covered all of the bases of the most important characters in a time span of below two hours and B) Let’s be real, nobody wants to sit through three hours of content so we can see every single motive of every single character.
With that being said, one development aspect bothered me enough to detract from some of the film’s value. The way Miles spontaneously gained the ability to control all of his spider powers after struggling for the first two thirds of the film bothered me a little bit.
The scene that triggered this dynamic development on Miles’s end brought tears to my eyes. It was a super powerful “father-son heart to heart” moment, so I do not want to bash on this development arc too much. But, at the end of the day, this whole “one motivational speech will take you from zero to a hundred real quick” ordeal struck me as a bit of a cop-out. Given the tendency to market these movies towards children, I’m not sure I want that to be the kind of thing we preach to kids in today’s day and age. When “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” did a similar kind of development with their main character, it bothered me to no end. So, for the sake of consistency, I need to point out this flaw in “Into the Spider-Verse” as well.
Generally speaking, I have a soft spot for animated films (see: Ratatouille). Maybe it’s because they successfully bring out my inner childhood nostalgia, or maybe because they are, you know… actually good movies. However, one distinct advantage animated movies have is the fact that they have the creative freedom to do what they want, when they want, all without the worries of going over budget. If an animated film wants to have someone go to the mountains, they can just animate them there. No need to actually travel there to shoot an authentic scene or spend inordinate amounts of time trying to make everything seem hyper realistic. This is an undisputable fact that gives them more options to make the vision come to life. “Into the Spider-Verse” certainly used this to their advantage, making it a very memorable film. Shout out to Jonathan Ling for that astute observation.
Overall, “Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse,” resonated with me in a big way. It offered a lighthearted, unique, and heartwarming emotional roller coaster ride with plenty of re-watch value. I highly recommend this film to any fans of superheroes, animation, and well, high quality films.
One last thing: stay for the post-credits scenes, you will not want to miss them.
To be honest, “Into the Spider-Verse” was one of the best movies I have seen this year. Sadly, animated movies not made by Pixar rarely, if ever, get recognition in the coveted “Best Picture” category. Sadly, I highly doubt it will get nominated in this category, but it should contend in one category:
Best Animated Feature: This year will be an interesting year, because even though Disney or Pixar films usually clean up this category, that might not be the case this year. “Incredibles 2” was a great film, but so were “Isle of Dogs” and “Into the Spider-Verse,” and given the Academy’s propensity to avoid rewarding sequels for their work, we could see a dethroning of Pixar this year.