Review: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

spideryverse.jpgSpider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a 2018 animated movie based on the Marvel superhero Spider-Man and directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman.

With a considerable number of notable characters, the film stars Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber and Nicolas Cage.

Miles Morales (Moore) becomes the Spider-Man of his reality and crosses paths with his counterparts from other dimensions (Johnson, Steinfeld, Mulaney, Glen and Cage) to stop a threat to all reality from a team of supervillains (Schreiber, Ali and Hahn).

Hands down, Spider-Verse is one of the best Spider-Man movies of all time. Not only that but it’s arguably one of the best animated superhero movies of all time. I think that reason for this is simple: the filmmakers love and understand Spider-Man.

Whether it be the frenetic action, beautiful animation, melodrama or spot on voice casting, everything is just so ‘Spider-Man’ that I’m surprised that it took this long to finally get a film like this. But perhaps the most important element is that the film is accessible for those who know nothing about Spider-Man whilst still highly rewarding for those who do. There are so many little background details that re-watching is a must.

Over the past decade, DC have released a steady stream of direct-to-DVD animated films which mostly serve as adaptations of famous storylines but Into the Spider-Verse takes a leaf out of Big Hero 6’s adaptation book. It may take the name from the recent Spider-Verse storyline but the filmmakers only cherry-picked the very best elements that best fit the story that they wanted to tell. So rather than being slaves to the source material, the filmmakers are reinterpreting it and enhancing it.

And the movie is abundant with characters from the Spider-Man universe. Not only do we get our main Spider people (Spider-Man, Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man Noir, Peni Parker and Spider-Ham) and two other surprise Spider-Men that I won’t spoil but we also get new incarnations of classic villains like Kingpin, Green Goblin, Prowler, Tombstone, Scorpion and Doc Ock.

Spider-Verse is also very funny. The Phil Lord and Chris Miller stamp is all over this project and the jokes are abundant. There is a wonderful variety of physical comedy, wit, one-liners, slapstick and absurdist comedy so it is hard to imagine that any audience member will go through the whole film without a single giggle.

But despite its more whimsical appearance, Spider-Verse isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty and take the audience on an emotional roller-coaster. Miles has such a rich and complex relationship with his Dad which, even despite the superpowers, is so very relatable. All of the characters have suffered loss in one form or another and unlike a lot of comics, the deaths are permanent and the heartache is lasting. This is a movie that will make you feel.

The voice cast is just amazing with everyone putting in top tier performances. When you have a movie as busy, the actors really need to push their characters to forefront so that every line of dialogue carries all of their backstory and characteristics. Moore and Henry have some fantastically emotive scenes as Miles Morales and his Dad, Officer Jefferson Davis. Johnson frequently steals scenes with his portrayal of a disheveled mid-life crisis Spider-Man but the MVP of the movie is Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir. I loved his design. I loved his Humphrey Bogart infused voice work. I loved the film noir tropes that he adheres to. I loved his jokes that aren’t really jokes. This character really hits the nail on the head for me.

Never before has a superhero movie had such a deep, understanding and appreciation for its characters and folklore. Into the Spider-Verse never shies away from its weirdness, it embraces it and the sheer degree of creativity onscreen is matched only by its heart and humour.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hits UK cinemas on December 12th.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Cup Rating: 95%

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