December 10, 2018

CINEMA | 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Crosses Over

"There's only one Spider-Man!"
Shameik Moore Jake Johnson Phil Lord & Christopher Miller | Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

From producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the new animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is such a joyous celebration of the character's storied history and many interpretations as it exquisitely recreates the imaginative highs of reading a comic book come to life. It's a particularly refreshing take on the otherwise tired superhero origin story with plenty of original, self-referential twists and turns that make it as comically sharp as it's visually inventive.

Directed by the trio of animation veteran Bob Persichetti, storyboard artist Peter Ramsey, and comedy writer Rodney Rothman, the film's fluid mix of flat and three-dimensional animation really pops. It's truly shocking just how much Spider-Verse really accentuates its comic book-iness to much delight including using the language of the physical medium to mine its animated aesthetic.

The all-star voice cast is a murderer's row of fine comic and dramatic characters centred on the Afro-Latino teenager Miles Morales version of Spider-Man (Shameik Moore, great) and an aged, well-worn sort of loser Spider-Man (Jake Johnson, hilarious) from another dimension. The mismatched pair are launched into a larger multidimensional mystery before being thrusted together to save New York City from another diabolical plot.

Shameik Moore Jake Johnson Hailee Steinfeld Phil Lord & Christopher Miller | Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

In addition, the film features Hailee Steinfeld as Spider-Woman, Mahershala Ali as the Prowler, Liev Schreiber as Kingpin, Kathryn Hahn as a female Doc Ock, a great performance by Brian Tyree Henry as Miles' loving cop father with the likes of Nicolas Cage and John Mulaney as other alternate Spider-Men. It's hard to express how dynamic the voice casting really is with the vocal performances making the wonder of the film and Miles' version of Spider-Man so engrossing.

The script by Lord and Rothman very much establishes Miles as a new Spidey voice with a more contemporary working-class Brooklyn background before the inter-dimensional team-up of the film's wackier second half. There's just so much to like and enjoy about this multi-version take on the legacy of Spider-Man's publishing history including the franchise's cinematic ills.

Spider-Verse firmly returns Spider-Man to its comic book roots both visually and narratively. The animated film uses post-modern artistic flourishes to explore the multiverse concept in a fully immersive way. It turns the superhero story inside and out to craft a wholly original tale that's surprisingly emotional. It's kind of crazy this movie even exists.

More | YVArcade / AV Club / Indiewire / ScreenCrush

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