It is no secret for those of you that have been a part of our show for a period of time that Spider-Man is not in my medal round of favorite super heroes. From passable comic books to films that were less so (Sam Raimi, I’m STILL talking to you), the only version of the character that I really got into came from the ‘60s cartoons, “The Electric Company,” and “His Amazing Friends”. I have always seen Peter Parker as kind of whiny and not identifiable, but apparently I am in the minority as Sony wants to keep that property so badly that they keep cranking out projects with him including the horrible “Venom” earlier this summer. With Phil Lord and “Ultimate” writer Brian Michael Bendis teaming up for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” I was at least mildly intrigued to see what would come of this latest incarnation.
When Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is bitten by a radioactive spider, he gains the same powers that Peter Parker (Chris Pine) has and after Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) causes a rift in the space/time continuum, a number of Spider heroes from other dimensions are brought to ours including Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), Spider-Man Noir (Nicholas Cage), and even the Spectacular Spider-Ham (John Mulaney). The problem with this is that the longer they are here and Kingpin’s machine runs, it is tearing the fabric between them apart that could destroy everything for all of them.
With a TON of Easter Eggs for the fans that truly know the breadth and width of Spider-Man’s mythos while not being so overt that it would confuse the newer fans, I truly enjoyed this film. At a solid two hours, I was worried that it would bog itself down in its own details, but it moves along nicely with some very subtle things that give each dimension’s hero their own distinct style and feel. The voice cast seems very natural here to the point where I was not taken out of the characters by the voices, which also include Mahershala Ali, Lily Tomlin, Zoe Kravitz, Luna Lauren Velez, Kathryn Hahn, and even Stan Lee (who has a couple of nice moments credited to him).
If there is a criticism for this film for me, it lies in the animation itself. There are a number of styles employed here, and it can get a little overwhelming from time to time. I understand that this is done in order to establish each of the characters and the dimension that they come from, but it was still a bit much. This is countered nicely with a soundtrack that immediately had me wanting to head to iTunes and get it with a great mix of genre that fit with their corresponding scenes well. And yes, there is a post-credit scene that while a bit obscure can be appreciated by a larger audience as well.
With critics hailing this as one of the best films of the year, I cannot go that far, but I am willing to say that “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is WAY ahead of the curve for 2018 and is easily the best “Spider-Man” movie I have ever seen.