So I watched Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse…
Spider-Man has to go down as the King of all cinematic superheroes. It’s been 16 years since Tobey Maguire’s version of the friendly, neighbourhood wall-crawler first swung into theatres. In that time, the character has been rebooted twice, stolen Captain America’s shield and managed to avoid getting stale. I mean, even the bad Spider-Man movies couldn’t sink him. There’s something about the character that keeps us coming back for more and this latest version (or versions) of Spidey really cement the fact that he’s not going anywhere, anytime soon.
Okay, basic plot: Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is a teenager who’s facing a little more than the average challenges of adolescence. After been bitten by a radio-active spider, Miles develops amazing, albeit frightening super powers. Unsure of how to handle these powers, Miles is given a helping hand by a Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) from an alternate dimension. Miles soon discovers that he isn’t the only Spider-Man out there as several other Spider-Men from alternate realities begin showing up in his dimension. Miles must embrace his powers, team up with the other Spider-Men and figure out what’s causing these inter-dimensional anomalies.
I really enjoyed this movie. The entire time I was watching it, it felt like I was reading a comic book that had come to life. This is down to two factors, firstly, is the film’s script. The script is very self-aware and cognisant of the fact that there’s an audience watching the film. So because of this there are moments where shortcuts can be taken and things presented as they would be in a comic book instead of a movie. Secondly the film’s visual style is incredibly unique and immersive. The film’s visuals were computer generated and then worked on by hand to literally make the look of the film feel like that of a comic book. Then there are more obvious qualities where scenes have annotations and captions like those you’d see in a comic book reel. All of this really helps set the film apart and gives it its own identity among the growing pantheon of Spider-Man films.
I think another defining trait will be Shameik Moore’s turn as Miles Morales. We’ve seen plenty of Peter Parker but this is our first introduction to Miles Morales and his Spider-Man. It’s a hero we love, not just seen through a new light but actually seen with new eyes. There are stark parallels between Peter and Miles which ease the transition but Miles has so many striking qualities which help cement his identity as Spider-Man. It doesn’t feel like someone trying to imitate Parker or pretend to be Spider-Man. This is a character with something else – cooler but still fragile, modern but with the timeless virtues of the hero. Moore really nails his depiction and gives the character enough heart for us to want to fall in love with him and invest in his success.
Another performance I have to single out is that of Jake Johnson as Peter Parker. If you’ve ever seen Johnson’s work as Nick on New Girl, you’ll really understand why he’s the perfect guy to portray this version of Spidey. Some will say he’s typecast, I say it’s niche casting. I don’t want to get into spoilers but if you were/are a fan of New Girl, imagine Nick with the powers of Spider-Man but still with all his trademark hopeless, hobo determination.
Another thing to enjoy about this movie is its soundtrack. A couple of month’s ago I stumbled about Post Malone’s Sunflower, which was made for this movie, a song I’ve had on repeat since first hearing it. Not only was I glad that it was featured quite prominently in the film but I was also impressed with the seamless nature the song was worked into the film’s DNA. It didn’t feel like sound merely plastered on top of a scene to avoid silence but rather harmony infused into the script.
Unfortunately there are a few negatives to this film. It’s a Marvel film so do I even need to say that the villain is one-dimensional and disappointing? I mean for every Loki, Killmonger and Thanos there’s about a dozen uninteresting Ultrons, Yellowjackets and now, Kingpins. Kingpin’s whole plan is just a plot device that allows the movie to happen. You don’t ever doubt that they’re going to beat him. He never has any moments that are badass. The movie even acknowledges how boring and predictable a villain he is by one of the characters mocking/working out his plan without really trying.
Overall, Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse manages to both be an old favourite and a breath of fresh at the same time. Its visual style and genuinely hilarious script are its best assets, added to it some brilliant voice work from its leads. The villain and overall plot are a bit too mediocre and it would have been nice to see this film take more risks.That being said, it’s definitely worth a trip to the cinema. 7/10