Thursday, December 13, 2018

Movie with Abe: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman
Released December 14, 2018

Superhero movies are everywhere right now. If you watch a movie about one comic book legend, it’s more than likely that, after a couple of sequels, the franchise will be rebooted before long and told from a perspective that’s meant to be innovative but probably looks a whole lot like everything that came before it. It’s refreshing, therefore, to see something that feels truly new, taking into account all that’s already canon and expanding on it in a creative way that totally merits the idea of revisiting preexisting material and turning it into something that feels fresh and worthwhile.

Peter Parker (Chris Pine) is Spider-Man, though his stint doesn’t last long as he is killed by Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) after the villain opens a portal to other dimensions. Fortunately, teenager Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is bitten by a radioactive spider and learns from Peter what he must do in order to set the universe straight. With no training and little idea of how to use his powers, Miles is unexpectedly introduced to a number of alternate versions of Spider-Man transported from the other dimensions, including an older, glummer Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), and Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), who all team up to take down Kingpin and save the multiverse from certain implosion.

This film starts off on a productive note, skipping past the recreation of an origin story by having Peter just tell it as it is, bringing anyone who doesn’t know about Spider-Man up to speed, assuming that he doesn’t need to fill in unnecessary details. That device is humorously recreated throughout the film as each new version of Spider-Man first appears, explaining their slightly varied circumstances and what defines their world. It’s a great way of diving right into the action, allowing this film to bring them together without the need for starting from scratch, intent on focusing all on plot and intrigue, with many laughs brought in as a result of the differences between these heroes and the way that they operate.

Animation is undoubtedly the best framework within which to lens this story, since it features so many incredible eye-popping visuals and brings comic books to life with its amalgam of straightforward stories and panels dictating the characters’ words and actions. Standard visual effects in a live-action film wouldn’t have been able to convey nearly the same sense of adventure and wonder that comes from the spectacular animation. The voice cast, which also includes Brian Tyree Henry, Mahershala Ali, Kathryn Hahn, and Lily Tomlin, is uniformly excellent, with Johnson standing out in particular for his very funny take on a worn-out superhero. This animated film isn’t just for kids at all, bringing in some more complicated themes and ideas for an epic adventure that’s fantastically paced and fully captivating. Films with characters like Spider-Man often earn sequels, but this one is magnificent all on its own. More of the same would surely be worthwhile, but this film packs more than enough awesomeness into just one entry.


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