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‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ (review)

Produced by Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, Phil Lord
Christopher Miller, Christina Steinberg

Screenplay by Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman
Story by Phil Lord
Based on Miles Morales by
Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli
Directed by Bob Persichetti,
Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Starring Shameik Moore,Jake Johnson,
Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali,
Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin,
Luna Lauren Velez, John Mulaney,
Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber, Kimiko Glenn

 

Amidst the never-ending flood of superhero movies that we have increasingly been drowning in since the turn of the millennium, Spider-Man is undoubtedly the character that has received the most reworks and revamps.

By now, the origin story of Peter Parker has been done to death, and you would be hard-pressed to find any casual superhero movie fan who feels neglected in terms of Peter Parker-centric offerings.

However, what the filmmakers have finally realised is that there are many more characters from the Spider-Verse available to pick from, and so here we are with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles Morales’ first outing on the big screen. As he is accompanied by several characters from across the multiverse, the film will be many people’s first experience with the likes of Spider-Gwen, Peter Porker, Spider-Man Noir and Peni Parker, and as ludicrous as that looks on paper, it works incredibly well.

With such an elaborate cluster of highly diverse Spider-Man characters, worrying that the film would be become a jumbled mess was a legitimate concern, however, this is thankfully not the case.

While the main emphasis is on just a few of the big screen newcomers, everyone else still has a moment or two that makes them feel like they have a purpose in the narrative. We get a good, basic sense of the supporting players’ worlds without being weighed down by exposition, making the film well-paced and ever focused on its main narrative. As a result, the nearly two hours of runtime briskly swing by without any disengaging or dull moments.

In terms of tone, the film is supremely balanced, managing to keep both its comical and dramatic momentum throughout. The humor seems more at home in this animated world than it most live action superhero films, and the dramatic aspects of Miles Morales’ interpersonal relationships are portrayed with sincere emotion that keeps the viewer engaged beyond the film’s dazzling visual appeal.

As for the animation itself, it is freshly creative and wonderfully textured, delivering the promised feel of being inside a comic book. While other superhero films before it have made use of the comic book feel by using panels and text on screen here and there, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse manages to do this in possibly the most consistent and best executed manner yet, making it a remarkable technical achievement as much as an all-round good film.

In addition to the comic book-style working incredibly well without becoming a gimmick, the film also manages to create a New York that feels contemporary, authentic and vibrant, thereby building a practical framework that helps to ground the fantastical narrative and sequences unfolding within it.

Production company executives have long since realized how big of a market there is for superhero films, and we are more spoiled than ever for choice when it comes to this genre. Characters no one would have imagined would ever get their own movie are getting green-lit, and the consistently impressive debuts of many a superhero prove why the transition from comic book to cinematic feature often feels natural.

However, we also have to sit through a lot of shlock, not least because most executives seem to assume that if one, say, Batman movie works, then all Batman movies will also work by default. With Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse we spared from another bland reboot about Spidey and instead get something genuinely exciting and new, and I, for one, cannot wait to return to Earth-1610.

Verdict: 10 out of 10.

 

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