Photo: Sony Pictures 2018
The best animation we’ve seen. Ever.
Another Spider-Man movie? And it’s a cartoon? Come on.
Yes – Spider-Man is getting rebooted very frequently. Sony had a decent run with Toby McGuire in the early 2000’s accompanied by Dashboard Confessional and Nickelback billboard #1’s, but they were hokey, detached from emotion and excitement and drowned out by stories of McGuire destroying his back in real life. Plus he was just too old to be believable.
Sony gave it another shot in 2012 with The Amazing Spider-Man’s full reboot with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Shot better, but still not compelling so they caved and agreed to share rights to Spider-Man as the Marvel Cinematic Universe grew immensely powerful – leading to yet another reboot with Tom Holland in Homecoming, and appearances in Avengers films.
Three franchise reboots in about twenty years. Are we living in a cultural void where nothing new is being created and we just reboot what was great about the 80s and 90s, and in this case, comic book series from the 60s and 70s? In many cases, especially DC’s efforts to build a Justice League, it might just be better to give up and try to make something – anything else.
Sony disagrees. It green-lit one more new project, an animated masterpiece in “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.”
I came into the theater skeptical, and really just happy to have something to do on a Thursday night in January.
I was blown away. The animation style mixed in textured grid overlays from comic book’s Pop Art era’s, but not just for that nod, but to create boca effect blurring to keep the characters of interest in focus only. Insane detail was put into every scene’s backgrounds, and half the objects on screen looked almost like they had been filmed, including some human characters in dark-lit scenes, and the other half were clearly animations with nothing to hide. Objects in the background split their RGB apart to totally lose themselves from the viewers eyes but create incredible contrast to points of interest.
This iteration’s premise is that the Spidey’s old nemesis Kingpin was aware of the multiverse and builds an unstable machine to try and pull a new version of his wife and son from it, after they died in a car accident that was partly his fault. The rip in the universe brings Spider-Men and Spider-Women into this film’s universe by accident. This universe’s Spider-Man is killed shortly after young Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is bitten by, you guessed it, a radioactive spider.
There are compelling storylines following Miles’ teenage angst without having to utilize any forced romance arcs, pointless bullies or balancing a falling lunch back onto a tray. We relate to his relationship with his father and his uncle easily from the beginning. The Kingpin storyline is also compelling in that you can understand his ruthlessness isn’t just a dog chasing a car, but a man seeking his family.
Any great movie has a great soundtrack. Spider-Man did not disappoint. Unless you have surround sound with a subwoofer at your home, I suggest seeing this in theaters so you can feel the beat through your seat as you swing between buildings.
Taking a page from Black Panther, Spider-Man lets the music take the lead on certain scene transitions and action climaxes, keeping it thrilling for audiences throughout. The instant additions to people’s 2019 playlists relied heavily on hip hop and R&B, but reggaeton and latin trap gave every scene more style.
Finally, Sony also green-lit making fun of itself, and the many many comic book series by masking a point to rehash the origin story of each Spider-Entity brought into the frame with increasing brevity and acknowledgement that there have been many – from Gwen Stacy, to Spider-Man Noir (a brilliant cameo performance from who? Nicholas Cage!), Peter Porker’s Spider-Ham (who eats a hot dog during the film…) and more. It was a fun way to say, “Hey – we know it’s been a lot, but all these characters have their greatness so here they all are for you in one film. The mega villain’s plot required all of their help, and not just their comedic relief. The stinger past the credits gives a final, humorous nod to origins, and the Spider-Ham has a few words for anyone who thinks a cartoon is stupid.
Go see it.