Tonight is the 91st Annual Academy Awards! And all day today we’ll be bringing you a rundown of each category as well as reviews of the nominated films. Next up, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Sound bite version of this article: This movie has everything.
The one thing that I’ve seen consistently as I have watched the other Spider-Man movies in anticipation for this one is all of these different teams not being able to lift Spider-Man from the page to the screen. For different reasons in different films, something always felt…off? Whether it was lack of understanding/appreciation of the source material, wanting to do something of their own with it, or adapting it to fit a world that has been going on without Spider-Man, something was just missing for me. To be clear, that doesn’t mean that the film was necessarily bad in its own right or didn’t work for what they were doing. If you read my other reviews, you’ll know more of what I’m talking about.
This film’s approach to bring us Spider-Man was almost an inverse reaction to what has come before it. Instead of bringing Spider-Man into our world and forcing him into the limitations and flaws therein, this team brings us into their world. The art style, the direction, the movements, the humor, the reality– all work, because it feels like a comic book. The best part of that last statement is–it works and works well. In a year where the Incredibles 2 came out, and you should know I really like Brad Bird, this is the best animated film of the year.
The care and appreciation for all of the characters in their own right and the craft that went into piecing it all together in a cohesive way is beyond impressive – dare I say – amazing. Nothing felt forced or rushed despite a lot of things happening. Everything seemed grounded in a reason for it being there. The precision of the parallels between all of their arcs was perfect and done in way that is both unique and still identifiable to an audience that has seen several other Spider-Man films over the last few decades. I was particularly fond of the relationships Miles had with the three larger male role models in the film; Peter Parker, Jefferson Davis (his father), and Aaron Davis (his uncle). Each support a different part of Miles as he develops into the kind of person/Spider-Man he wants to be.
For the first time in Spider-Man movie, the inclusion of a stupid amount of villains isn’t a detriment to the film. A lot of them aren’t even explained or given exposition. They are just villains working for The Kingpin. It was so nice not to have to trudge through more exposition that ultimately would have detracted from the Spider-Persons’ stories. You get enough of who they are, and why they are there, and that’s all that was needed. The villains you needed to know more about are the Prowler and the Kingpin and that’s it. Their motivations, not to spoil anything, are really well done and make sense for those characters.
The best thing about this movie is that it understands that we all know who Spider-Man is – Peter Parker’s Spider-Man at the very least. It acknowledges that in ways that our humorous, well thought out, and even poignant at times. The Stan Lee cameo (which was a perfect swan song) hits on this too; Spider-Man could have been anyone…in a way we all kind of are. Yeah, he has superpowers and can do whatever a spider can. At the end of the day, he’s just a kid from New York trying to do what he can to make the world a better place – and that’s something everyone can do. You can stand up to corruption, help someone with a small simple act of kindness, or even steal the Declaration of Independence.
Okay so not that last one…
The film understand that the reason we all continue to go out and see Spider-Man movies of varying qualities is that he represents the ideals that we believe in, but is still a flawed human being. Despite that, he overcomes the odds and continues to get back up and save the day. Sony certainly has taken some hits over the years for their Spider-Man films and I’ve certainly thrown some hands their way too. However, this film makes me glad that they, like Spider-Man/Woman would, continued to get up and keep trying till they made it right (or till they made more money if you are a sad capitalist like me).
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: 5 spider bites I hope give me powers too out of 5
Written by Eric Brockett
(Eric is a millennial and thus thinks his opinion on the internet matters. Sometimes he has opinions on films too. He thinks people care. He knows they don’t.)