Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse review: A slick and stylish superhero movie unlike any you’ve seen
Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse
Directors: Peter Ramsey, Robert Persichetti Jr., Rodney Rothman
Cast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Mahershala Ali
Spider-Man has always had a soft spot in the hearts of superhero fans. No matter how many iterations he takes, pages he fills or weird dances he does in the street, he will always be lovable, inspiring and relatable. He is the school kid who doesn’t quite fit in but does all he can to save his city from evil, all on his own.
In his latest appearance on the big screen, he is again a school kid who doesn’t fit in. However, this time he is a black, Spanish-speaking teenager, isn’t the only Spider-man in the city and also, he is animated. Marvel and Sony have teamed up again for Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse, and trust me when I say it’s like entering a completely different universe.
The movie is so stylish, so alive and so stunning, it’s a like a comic book come to life by the swish of a magic wand or in this case, again, by the bite of a radioactive spider. The animation is not the glossy, highly saturated kind that we have grown accustomed to in the commercial, animated movies. The jerky motions, pastel canvas and the faded aesthetic come closest to perhaps the tiny clips of Best Animated Feature nominees we see every year at the Oscars ceremony at most. Once you come to accept the fact that you are watching an animated Spider-Man movie, it lets you know just why it’s the best thing ever.
In Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse, we are again in Queens, New York. There is still the loveable neighbourhood guy Peter Parker who wears the mask, saves his city and loves his wife. However, our hero here is not Peter Parker but a teenager Mike Morales, who also lives in Queens.
While on an inspired night of vandalising his town with stunning graffiti, Mike gets bit by the dues ex spider. In a series of hilarious events, he realizes the powers that have been bestowed upon him and the fact that there are now more than one Spider-man in the world. He needs someone to help him figure out how to swing a web and crawl on walls but instead, witnesses a murder that changes everything. Now, he has a big responsibility to carry out with his uncontrollable and nascent powers.
Things aren’t all bad though because while the villain Wilson Fisk, also known as Kingpin, was committing the murder, he opened portals to other universes and what came out were several ‘Spider-persons’ from their respective universes. There is one who is now a hobo with a bulging belly, one from the neo-noir comics, one who is actually a pig and more who make no sense at all. Together, the Spider-persons will try to find a way back home, bust up some baddies and teach their young, fellow Spider-Man to deal with death, pain and how with great power comes great repetitions of the same phrase, over and over again.
Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse may be about becoming a hero or watching your heroes fall but damn if it doesn’t know how to have fun along the way. The screen divides itself into lively panels, punches and kicks manifest themselves as ‘POW’ or ‘THUD’ written in true comic book style and the Spidey-sense has never looked more tangible in the vibrating animations that emerge out of the heroes’ heads. The music is seamlessly blended in with the stylish cuts and if you are wondering why that sounds so much like Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, that’s because it is! I have waited so long to witness something remotely close to it and I finally have it.
Apart from the style, the film also has a thick icing of humour. There are callbacks to previous movies like Tobey Maguire’s cringe-worthy shimmy in Spider-Man 3. There is a comical struggle but a healthy acceptance towards being politically correct, peppered with instances of self-awareness about being comic characters, something we all owe to Deadpool. Spider-Man’s humour is actually a lot like Deadpool’s, except only if he was PG-13 and didn’t make kebabs of people on the regular.
The cherry on the cake could have been a few great moments that really drove the wedge into our hearts. Call them what you may, but Sam Raimi’s versions knew how to make a grown person cry, to feel the weight of responsibility on young shoulders and to know what it feels like to not fit in. We felt the love and respect when New York gave Peter his mask back on the train, we felt the hollowness when MJ left him crying and we felt the hero slip away when he was giving into the lure of being selfish. Nothing really comes close to those feelings in the new version.
Of course, there is still a lot more to love in Into The Spider-Verse. If you are anything like the two kids sitting next to me at the theatre, who wouldn’t shut up about all the Easter eggs they spotted through the film, or which character belonged to which issue of which comic book, I think you will do just fine.
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