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Review: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
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PLOT: Teenager Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is bitten by a radioactive spider, and gains super human abilities. Recognizing these as the same possessed by Spider-Man, he seeks guidance, but soon finds himself forced to take up the mantle when a deadly plot by The Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) threatens his city. Luckily, he has help in the guise of Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) aka Spider-Man, but he’s not the only Spider-Man on Miles’s turf.

REVIEW: With three credited directors, plus Phil Lord (who also co-wrote) and Christopher Miller as producers, it’s hard to figure out who deserves the lion’s share of the praise for SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE. Whoever it is, they’ve managed to do something that’s pretty incredible - they’ve made Spider-Man new again.

Now, that’s not a dig against the MCU’s Spider-Man, which is great, or even the better than remembered AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (let’s forget about the sequel), or the Sam Raimi films. However, with four different spider-men in sixteen years, one can’t deny the character has been well-worn. What INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE does is not only give us a new on-screen Spider-Man in Miles Morales, but also pay tribute that what’s gone before in a surprisingly sophisticated way which bodes well for Sony’s hoped-for Spider-Verse.

What’s clear, off the bat, is that Miles doesn’t quite live in our reality. Sure, its similar, but the NYPD goes by the PDNY, so things are a little off-kilter. In this Spider-Verse, all iterations of the character could potentially exist, and it’s strongly hinted that the main Peter Parker, voiced by Jake Johnson, is meant to be the Tobey Maguire version. There’s even a montage featuring some of the iconic moments from the Raimi versions, and that’s an intriguing path to go down.

While apparently aimed at kids with it’s PG-rating, INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is surprisingly dark for a movie where a talking pig (Spider-Ham) is a major character. It works so much better than it ever should have, with Miles being forced to experience the same loss as all the other on-screen Spider-Men, with an extra layer of betrayal just to make it more gut-wrenching. And, despite being an animated film, the stakes are real. People die in this. Its family friendly, but it’s no kiddie flick. The visual style is breath-taking, looking like a comic brought to live with a dynamic mix of 3D animation and what looks like 2D. The colours are bold and psychedelic and the score by Daniel Pemberton ranks as possibly my favourite super hero score since Hans Zimmer did the Nolan Batman films.

Likewise, the voice-casting is perfect, with Shameik Moore giving a real sense of vulnerability to Morales, while “Atlanta’s” Brian Tyree Henry is great as his cop dad. Mahershala Ali is terrific as Miles’s sketchy uncle, and Schreiber brings real menace to the Kingpin. The various Spidey’s are all well-cast, with Nicolas Cage as the Humphrey Bogart-sounding Spider-Man noir and John Mulaney as Spider-Ham being the closest this gets to comic relief. Of them, Hailee Steinfeld as Spider-Woman (Gwen Stacey) and Johnson as Parker are the most important, and both have a strong dynamic with young Morales, and give the film real heart, in addition to some pathos for their characters.

Really, SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is better than it ever should have been, and hopefully audiences go for the ride, as the animated form is able to open up what could have been a conventional super hero tale into bold, exciting new directors. It deserves to be a hit, and if anyone wants a really unique take on the genre, this is one to see. It may be my favourite Spider-Man movie to date.

Source: JoBlo.com

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