Cast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali
Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the creative minds behind The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, bring their unique talents to a fresh vision of a different Spider-Man Universe, with a groundbreaking visual style that’s the first of its kind. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales, and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where more than one can wear the mask.
Anytime I see Sony release a high-budget adaptation, whether it is live-action or animated, I get incredibly nervous due to some of the past mistakes. While they have released game changing movies like Ghostbusters and Men in Black, the stench of The Emoji Movie is tough to get off, so it will take a consecutive string of impressive work before I can fully trust them again. Fortunately, Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse is a huge step in the right direction. The animation was flawless, the story was crisp, and the voice-cast is full of A-list actors doing their best work. Not only is Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse one of the best animated movies of the year, it is flat-out one of the best movies of the year.
The film follows Miles Morales (voiced by Moore), a young boy in Brooklyn who after being bitten by a radioactive spider gains the same powers as the famous superhero Spider-Man (voiced by Chris Pine). After a warp hole to other universes is opened, Miles meets other versions of Spider-Man and must help them get back to their universes while preserving his. The thing that really stands out about this movie is the choice of animation style. After Miles gets his powers, the style shifts over to a comic-style animation with blocks of text showing us what characters are saying and thinking. This was a risky decision, but I am so glad they decided to go with because it helps immerse the audience into the movie. I felt as though I was right there alongside Miles as he worked through his life and figured out his superpowers and this is almost solely due to the animation choices. While the comic-style animations are helpful at the beginning of the film, the final battle between Miles and Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) is one of the most impressive sequences of the year. All of the ominous looking colors pop off the screen but are complemented by the more traditional Spider-Man colors as the battle shifts. The conflicting and contrasting colors create a sequence that is both fully immersive yet also incredibly entertaining to watch. Outside of the animation, we get a story that is both incredibly interesting yet also very easy to understand. When you introduce subjects like multiple universes and heroes coming together to fight a common enemy, you have to do so in a way that is coherent and makes sense. Fortunately, Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse does this in a way where anyone can easily follow along with what is going on. More invested fans of the characters will be rewarded with constant Easter Eggs and references to the source material, but those who do not understand them will not miss much as they are predominantly for comedic purposes and not really tied into the story. Combine all of these elements with a voice cast that perfectly nails every scene they are in and end up with one of the most impressive movies of 2018 and what I hope becomes the standard for animated films moving forward.
Overall, in a sense Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse is a risky film because of the studio’s reputation and a non-traditional superhero story, but this movie makes the most of its situation and produces one of most fulfilling and satisfying movies of the year. Johnson perfectly nails the role of the teacher that has no real idea of what he is doing while Ali does a great job as the supportive uncle that shows us that things are not always as they appear to be. If there was ever a movie to dethrone the Disney empire of animated films during awards season, I hope this is the year and this is the movie to do so.
Overall Score: 9/10