REVIEW: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse (2018)

Spiderman into the spiderverse
Written By: Nigel Asipa
@AsipaNigel

The Webbed Wonder returns again in more ways than one, with satisfying results.

So we get not one, not two, not three, but 6 spider people. Each with their own quirks, abilities and anxieties. They’re just as weirded out the very idea of multiple hero personas that were enhanced or at least inspired by a spider, if not the radioactive kind.

The very notion of multiple heroes of the same pedigree seems baffling, but the heroes themselves are as baffled as we are. This is just one of many gags littered throughout this game changing, gleeful, energetic endeavour that boasts vibrant voice work, brilliant animation and smart storytelling.

Touted by some as potentially the best incarnation of the web slinger to date, this is something that acknowledges its predecessors, the superhero genre and its own cultural moment. Backed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Brooklyn Nine Nine, 21 Jump Street, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs), the injection of their signature lighthearted, quirky brand of humour provides an array of self-conscious jokes of its story.

Better still, Mile Morales (Shameik Moore) is a very likable protagonist. Down to earth, relatable problems and an endearing morality that surely honours the very appeal of becoming not just Spiderman, but a hero. An impressionable Afro-Latino American teenager who resides in Brooklyn (the film does a great job making the borough a character of itself that makes the atmosphere all the more alive) living with his dad, Jefferson Davis (Bryan Tyree Henry) and mother, Rio Morales (Luna Lauren Valez).

Jefferson doesn’t quite share the public’s admiration for the web slinging hero for his seemingly vigilante methods, undermining the efforts from the police department. While hanging out with his uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali) at a subway station performing graffiti art, in comes the obligatory radioactive spider bite. After that, Miles gets acquainted with his newfound powers but has no idea on how best to use them, with hilarious results. His encounter with the renowned Spiderman (Chris Pine) puts things into perspective.

Spiderman may have gained a respectable reputation from the public, Liev Schreiber’s Kingpin also shares Jefferson’s sentiment, and his sheer power is enough to kill Spiderman. Much dismay and devastation swarms the town and pits Miles into a precarious position as the new hope to thwart Kingpin’s chaotic scheme. But part of Kingpin’s plan has allowed Miles some help of some fellow crime fighters, they are as follows:

  • Haille Steinfeld’s Gwen Stacy
  • Nicolas Cage’s Spiderman Noir
  • John Mulaney’s Spider Ham
  • Kimiko Glenn’s Peni Parker
  • Jake Johnson’s Peter B. Parker

All are just as bewildered as we are at meeting alternate versions of themselves thanks to a machine from Kingpin to access parallel universes. The kicker is that everyone except Miles can’t stay long as they deteriorate the longer they stay, and while learning from one another’s lives they all become charismatic and formidable in their own right. Johnson’s Spiderman proves a seasoned, reluctant but ultimately responsible tutor for young Morales. But the rest of the gang are all to help and make for the best supergroup of heroes this side of The Defenders. We’re also treated to appearances from Aunt May (Lily Tomlin), Mary Jane Watson (Zoe Kravitz) and the late great Stan Lee (with a touching tribute towards the end).

Audiences are generally quite taken with Spiderverse’s satirical edge and animation. Its current worldwide box office is $326 million and has performed quite well domestically at around $161 million

Not everything is praiseworthy however. Whether they’re deliberate or a slight oversight, there are some glitches in the comic book style animation that come as a little distracting. It certainly sells as a 3D experience what with the eye popping visuals and all, but sometimes (especially with the action sequences) it can become a little overwhelming and almost assaulting to the senses.

But there is more to admire though. Other than the use of comic book style text boxes and subtitled sound effects, the storyline proves engaging in its use of foreshadowing and heartwarming emotion that manages to compliment the very core of what Spiderman means to so many people.


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