Movie Reviews

Published on December 10th, 2018 | by Lucas Wunch

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

This is the Spider-Man movie that we deserved.

 

It’s hard to believe that the movie I would end up saying that about would be an animated one.  Nevertheless, I left the theater this time feeling a sense of warm satisfaction for the first time since Sony originally graced us with Tobey Maguire.

 

Spider-Ma n: Into the Spider-Verse is the most poignant statement that Sony could make about their recommitment to all things webslinger.  The star-studded cast for this film includes Academy Award winners like Nicolas Cage and Mahershala Ali as well as the likes of Lily Tomlin, Chris Pine, and John Mulaney.  But those aren’t even the main characters.  Along with the stellar writing, an unbelievably well curated soundtrack and art direction that can only be described as sublime, Into the Spider-verse was exactly what we all needed right now.

 

This entry into the world of Spider-man actually brings us up to date with the comics by introducing us to Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), the black teenager from Brooklyn who has taken up the mantle of Spider-man following the death of Peter Parker (well, one of them).  Witnessing Parker’s demise at the hands of The Kingpin, Morales promises to help destroy the weapon that killed him.  Little does he realize that the weapon has opened a hole in the multiverse and multiple other spider men, women (and things) have been drawn through the rift into his universe.  They all have to work together to get back to their own universes and to prevent the destruction of reality itself.

 

The soundtrack for this movie really brings Spider-man into modern times.  Artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Eminem and Run the Jewels speak to the Brooklyn upbringing of Morales as the new webslinger.  At the same time, it also serves up artists like Marshmello, Pendulum and Prodigy who demonstrate how action can be fueled through their EDM stylings.  The music here is the most perfect complement to each part of the action and drama alike.  Just as you will see multiple different Spider-men, you’ll be taken through a wide spectrum of musical stylings to match each hero.

 

The animation style displayed here really can’t be appropriately categorized.  Part graffiti, part moving comic book and part CGI, the film brings together numerous different styles and effects such as cell-shading, anime breaks and word bubble subtitles to create something truly unique.  The medium itself is perfect because we can finally see everything that a live-action film couldn’t execute.  But unlike other animated superhero movies, this feature brings the artistic nature of illustrations to new levels.  The mix of styles is unlike any cartoon you’ve ever seen (or are likely to see again).  Beauty and realism combine to actually take you into a comic book instead of simply translating one for the screen.

 

The writing for Into the Spider-verse achieves something that few producers have managed to do in the animation field: it’s equally appealing to both children AND adults.  These days it’s rare to see an animated superhero film being made for the big screen instead of going straight to television.  As a result, Into the Spider-verse offers up plenty of quick witted and intelligent jokes for adults without crossing the lines of propriety.  In addition to the quality humor, the story includes a number of emotional moments that all manage to evoke real feelings instead of coming off as just pandering.  So, if you’re planning to take your children to this movie, you’ll certainly both enjoy it.

 

All-in-all, Into the Spider-Verse brings together all of the best elements in film-making and executes them to perfection.  Writing, drawing, music all come together to create an experience that you have to see to believe.  The only disappointing part here is that we had to wait 16 years for a Spider-Man movie this well done.

 

5 out of 5

Second Review by Michael Newman

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Review

Uncle Ben said it best when he uttered the now famous catch phrase, “With great power comes great responsibility”, a message that Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman took to heart when writing Sony Pictures Animation’s newest masterpiece Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.  In this new Spider offering, an assortment of Spider-Folk from across multiple dimensions come together to help mentor a new Spider-Man so that he can save New York City from impending doom.  

Into the Spider-Verse introduces us to Miles Morales, a teen growing up in Brooklyn who is enrolled in private school in an attempt to give him a better life.  Miles idolizes his uncle, a man who lives on the wrong side of the law, which is a stark contrast to Miles’ own father, who chose the life of a police officer.  Deep beneath the city, Miles and his uncle are tagging art on the walls when Miles is bit by a radioactive spider (as all great Spider-Man origin stories begin).  He quickly finds himself in the middle of the ruthless Kingpin’s plot to use his nuclear collider to access alternate universes and reverse the death of his beloved family.  Thankfully Miles will not have to handle this battle alone, as the experiment that Kingpin was performing brings the various Spider-Beings from the different multi-verses together and each of their unique strengths (and weaknesses) help develop Miles into the amazing Spider-Man he is destined to become.

Visually, Into the Spider-Verse is a feast for the eyes.  It’s part CGI, part traditional animation and part animated comic-book and blends the genres in a way that is both seamless and incredibly creative.  The results are so unique that it would be difficult to make a comparison to any animated film to date and still give it the justice it deserves.  For those who question whether an animated film not done by Pixar or Disney justifies the expense of a full-priced ticket, the answer is a resounding YES!

The voice acting is also superb.  Incredible voice talents of industry veterans like Nicholas Cage (Noir Spider-Man) and Liev Schreiber (The Kingpin) were joined by relative newcomers Shameik Moore (Miles Morales/Spider-Man), Jake Johnson (Peter B. Parker) and Hailee Steinfeld (Spider-Gwen).  Adding in the legend Lily Tomlin (Aunt May) and comedian John Mulaney (Spider-Ham) for some extra comic relief made it even more special and all of this talent combined created a voice talent work of art.  

With so many versions of Spider-Man on the screen you’d think that one would be overshadowed by the others, and even though the film focuses on Miles as the main character, each of the Spider-People get plenty of screen time.  Not only are we introduced to each of the character’s origin story, we also get a glimpse of what makes each unique and special from the rest.  They did a great job of showing us that they are not simply carbon copy Spider-Men from the different universes, each has their own reasons for being the hero and all of them are motivated differently.  Even though each one of them is their own hero from their own time and space, the writers made sure to also show that they are all still built from the same Spider-Man archetype so they each have that Spider-Man heart we all know and love.  

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse feels less like your typical animated film and more like a feature packed AAA motion picture.  It is not only the best animated Spider-Man film to ever grace the big screen, but quite possibly could be the best Spider-Man film of all time.  It tackles tough issues like gang violence and loss of family members and ties it all together to form a quite touching coming of age film.  While there were plenty of young children at the screening, I certainly wouldn’t say that this is a movie for younger audiences as it can get dark and gritty at times.  That’s not to say that it isn’t enjoyable for the entire family, but merely a precautionary note that this is not your typical Saturday morning Spider-Man cartoon.  On the flip side, older kids and adults will love this movie even if they are not particularly into animated movies.  It truly does have something for everyone and they are sure to have a good time.      

It just wouldn’t feel right to pen a Spider-Man movie review without adding a few sentences about the legendary man who created the entire Spider-Verse – Mr. Stan Lee.  Without him all this would not be possible and Into the Spider-Verse was the perfect movie to show the genius of the characters he created.  Mr. Lee does make his anticipated cameo and it is every bit as poignant and touching as you expect it to be.  R.I.P. Stan Lee, you will be missed.   

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is an excellent film with plenty of action, excitement and a whole lot of heart.  I highly, highly recommend going to see this movie as it is sure to become the Spider-Man blockbuster it is destined to be.  

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse opens in theaters on December 14th.

5 out of 5 stars

 

 

 

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