Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)

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One night, while drawing graffiti with his Uncle, Brooklyn teen Miles Morales is bitten by a radioactive spider. This grants him the ability to climb on walls and jump really high, as well as turn invisible and zap people with venom. In effect, he becomes another Spider-Man. This is a big deal, because, until now, Miles always thought there was just one Spider-Man. And, in a very tragic sense, there is, since Miles witnesses the original, Peter Parker Spider-Man get murdered by a dimension opening portal (long story). So now, in addition to having to take up all the responsibilities of the original Spider-Man, Miles must also contend with several other Spider People, including Spider-Woman, Spider-Man Noir, the anthropomorphic pig Spider-Ham, and the mech-suit-wearing Peni Parker, all of whom have been brought to his dimension by the portal. Can he do it? Watch the movie and find out.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is loopy, laugh-out-loud fun. It’s fast-paced, got some great voice work from a terrific cast, and some stellar, highly unique, animation. This is a comic book movie that truly embraces a comic book aesthetic, with things like onscreen panels, written sound effects, thought balloons, and the different characters being drawn in different art styles to signify the worlds they came from. This is a movie that is so determined to make you feel like you’re reading a comic book that it literally begins with a disclaimer that “this story has been approved by the comics code authority.” Now, to be clear, this is not a bad thing. As a nerd who was familiar with these obscure characters beforehand, I’m super happy to see them getting greater exposure in a mainstream movie. But more so than them, I’m delighted that Miles Morales is finally getting his time to shine. He’s been a favorite of comics readers for years now, so much so that studios had floated the idea of giving him his own solo movie, but I’m glad they waited until they were able to give us something as good as this. This flick does a superb job of introducing us to his life, his family, particularly his relationship with his Father and Uncle, and getting you to care about him. He’s a super lovable, super fun protagonist. Not only that, he’s unique. In addition to being biracial, Black and Puerto Rican, both of his parents are alive, and together. Do you realize how rare it is to see a superhero with happy, functional home life? Very, let me tell you. But I’m getting side-tracked. The movie doesn’t just work as fan service. It works as a movie as well. It’s fast-paced, the arcs of the main heroes are all realized, the animation is great, and it’s funny. I really want to emphasize how funny it is. It’s one of the best comedies I’ve seen all year. So if you’re scared of all the obscure references, and worried that the movie will be impenetrable, don’t sweat it. This film is nerdy enough for comic geeks and funny enough for everyone else.

It isn’t perfect, though. As fast-paced as the film is, it does go on for a bit too long. I think they could have trimmed this down to 90 minutes, and it would have been perfect. But, as it is, it’s 2 hours long, and there are definitely points where it feels a bit overwhelming. Part of this has to do with the sheer number of characters they throw at you. Yes, it’s fun to see Spider-Man Noir, Peni Parker, and Spider-Ham, but they don’t show up until about halfway through, aren’t really given any development, and are really just there to serve as punchlines. Which is frustrating, since they have so little to do that you could probably have removed them from the story. The film also has a habit of brushing over pretty big details in order to further the plot. And when I say big, I mean big. Things like, “Where did the spider that bit Miles come from?” “How did it get radioactive?” “How does his dad know to be at a particular location at just the right time?” and “Why does his dad go from hating Spider-Man to loving him?” never get answered. Ugh. But, like I said, the quick pace, light humor, and great animation make this worth watching. This is, without a doubt, the most comic bookie comic book film ever made, and I like it. Yes, it’s too long, there are some plot holes, and certain people could have been given more development, but it’s still fun. Make of this what you will.

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