Film

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Thrilling and reference-filled, this film is equal parts substance and fun

5/5 stars

Into the Spi­der-Verse is anoth­er in a long line of ani­ma­tion films that proves more atten­tion needs to be paid to this medi­um. Don’t let the fact that this movie is ani­mat­ed or super­hero-cen­tric deceive you.

I found the ani­ma­tion style to be bold, dif­fer­ent, and a bit weird. At one point, I was­n’t sure whether my sug­ar was high, or the screen was actu­al­ly blur­ry. Thank­ful­ly, Kel­ly con­firmed it was not my dia­betes. Even­tu­al­ly you get used to it, but the first few scenes are a bit distracting.

The movie makes the bold deci­sion to feel very much like a com­ic book in cer­tain sequences, and it pays off to cre­ate a visu­al style noth­ing like I’ve seen before. The rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Spidey Sense” with bright col­ors replac­ing the back­ground are straight out of the pan­els of a com­ic. Also, cap­tions are used onscreen to rein­force Miles’ inner mono­logue, which is yet anoth­er trib­ute to the char­ac­ter’s beginnings.

Spi­der-Man needs to be fun­ny, but the care­ful bal­ance between heart and silli­ness has­n’t been suc­cess­ful­ly toed by many a writer. Thank­ful­ly, that’s not the case here. This film is rid­dled with won­der­ful ref­er­ences, fun­ny jokes, yet impor­tant moments with a pow­er­ful message.

The voice cast did a lot to make those lines land. In par­tic­u­lar, Jake John­son’s voice per­for­mance was noth­ing less than spec­tac­u­lar. While he’s most known for his char­ac­ter Nick on New Girl, most of the char­ac­ters I’ve seen him play are one-dimen­sion­al. Refresh­ing­ly, I felt he did a great job of play­ing Peter Park­er, a char­ac­ter that calls for com­plex por­tray­al. Peter is fun­ny, sil­ly, does­n’t know when to shut up, but deeply loves his Aunt May and MJ, and at his core cares about the lives of the peo­ple that sur­round him.

Stan Lee’s cameo stole the show for me, and brought tears to my eyes. His appear­ances have been a delight for decades now, and I even loved his part in DC’s Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. But he’s nor­mal­ly used for a fun­ny one-lin­er. Into the Spi­der-Verse instead decid­ed to make his cameo of vital impor­tance to Miles’ jour­ney, which was espe­cial­ly a gut punch after his recent passing.

At the end of the day, it’s sim­ple: I loved this film. It’s a great sto­ry, with inter­est­ing char­ac­ters and a strong theme. I hope more movies fol­low its lead.