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Walking into Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse you can’t even imagine the impact the film will leave on you after the credits finish rolling. Unlike any superhero or animated film to date, this film is a pure gem that any fan of the character should seek out immediately and enjoy.
Three relatively unknown directors collaborated on this spectacle of all proportions. It’s a miraculous thing to wonder about how these filmmakers got to this moment and how influential their debut will be on the rest of their film career. There’s endless positive feedback that can be given on the animation style, as the way the film was shot makes it look like the action was flying straight out of the comics. While the animation does take a moment to adjust to your eyes, particularly because it’s unlike anything out there, you’ll soon recognize all the creative pixelated details that make Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse become a once in a lifetime experience for comic book fans. The action comes to life off the page in the most magical ways. Creative, emotional, and just plain risky, Rodney Rothman, Bob Persichetti, and Peter Ramsey have created one of the best films of the year, as well as the best visual representation of Spider-Man to date.
Phil Lord (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie) co-wrote the screenplay with one other and his writing style is ever so evident in every second of the film. Tagging alongside the brilliant mind of Lord is 22 Jump Street scribe Rodney Rothman. While Lord’s creativity is prominently placed in the film, Rothman co-wrote 22 Jump Street with him, and on a personal level both Jump Street films are comedic masterpieces, so it’s best to give the man credit here as well. The idea of colliding the different comic book versions of the title character could have been a terrible cash grab if it had been poorly written, executed, or explained. What seems like an obvious convoluted plot cluttered with just too many characters, a classic Spider-Man film flaw, somehow manages to cram all these characters in with little time with no issue at all, and while that’s something to examine for years to come, at the moment it’s just a great screenplay making its way into the hearts of many. In fact, the story seeps deep into the heart of comic book fans as it includes everything a Spider-Man fan would want to see come to life, while passionately using the screen to show off these marvelous characters to a new generation of comic (movie) lovers. Applause is definitely necessary for Phil Lord, who manages to bring yet another wallflower to the big screen.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
With an unbelievable cast consisting of both lesser and well known actors, including the likes of Jake Johnson, Nicholas Cage, Hailee Steinfeld, and Shameik Moore, it’s difficult to believe that you could become so immersed in these characters that you forget there’s these recognizable actors behind the voices. Miles Morales, Peter Porker, Peter Parker, Peter B. Parker, Gwen Stacy, Peni Parker, and Spider-Man Noir embody this film, while encapsulating what we as viewers know as the “hero” in the Spider-Man story, only there are more than the usual one of the same hero. All of which are written cleverly to converse with one another in fun and exaggerated ways to play on their noticeable characteristics, as well as play their role in the universe that Morales resides in. The humor in this film is off the wall and reflects perfectly upon the premise of the film, especially with the inclusion of the odder Spider-Men. Pick your favorite or love them all; that’s your choice, but the main cast is an outstanding example of how to flawlessly cast a film like this. Same goes for the villains of course, primarily Wilson Fisk who has a motive for his actions but even still his reasoning isn’t worth the cost of many other lives in the undoing of a wrong in Fisk’s ideology. Liev Schreiber leads the actors responsible for bringing the villains of Spider-Man to life and they all do just as remarkable of a job with the villains as they do the heroes, even though one outdoes the other on a personal level. Sure a few villains may be forgettable when reflecting back on their interactions with the plot, but their appearance is nostalgic enough to give a pass, especially when they never negatively impact the plot like how Venom, Sandman, and Green Goblin ruined the flow of Spider-Man 3. All in all though, brilliant actors fill Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse, and their characters work surprisingly well alongside one another, something that has almost never been seen in a live action Spider-Man until recently, but please note that this is only one of the many reasons to see this film.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
An animated feature has to have great audio otherwise it ruins a large portion of the film, as it rides half and half on visual and sound. Luckily Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse not only flawlessly matches the characters to their ideal voice actor but also feels like a real, active cityscape. Explosions feel impactful, spray painting feels rightfully empowering, and web swinging (or crawling) sounds right at home, bringing some of the best audio to date - easily matching the likes of any live action Spider-Man in any fashion. The soundtrack which prominently showcases the Post Malone/Swae Lee Sunflower grew on me largely in the film as it began to represent Miles and his inner feelings as the film went on. This song stood out most of all, but after a questionable first appearance of said song, most others grew on me just as easily. Lastly, let’s quickly mention the score by composer Daniel Pemberton, who has a wildly mixed performance record with films like Steve Jobs and The Counselor making his filmography. He truly brought his all to this magical score while supporting the film to be even more wondrous and bordering on award worthy material.
The animation style is unlike anything you’ve seen before - and that’s not just something I’m mindlessly saying. I honestly don’t think this style has ever been accomplished before. On first glance, this style is almost irritating to the eyes and puzzling as to their decision to use such a unique visual style, however after a resting period things turn around. Once your eyes adjust, you can find that the film flows like a live action comic book with occasional story progression through text, pixelated visuals to represent the ink display on the page, and the way everything moves so quickly is entirely unique. Some may be turned away from the visuals, however I suggest giving it a shot, as you may even love it by the film’s end. The character representations on screen, just like everything else, is pulled straight from the page. While some are more cartoony than others, they build that imagery into the conversation between characters. For my entire life I decided to stick with the Peter Parker Spider-Man I grew up with and not expand, but now with this film and their visual representatives, I want to learn more - especially about Spider-Man Noir.
Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse is genuinely a huge surprise coming from Sony, and it’s a true return to form for the character from the prime Sony days. Into the Spider-Verse is an incredibly refreshing take on the character and a breathtaking breakthrough for a new era of comic book animation.