‘I’ ON CULTURE
I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had at Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. After all, comic book characters should fit better in animation, but no one had ever done a good job before in that specific genre. (I am a great fan of other wonderful animation movies we now often see). That has changed. This is an animated movie filled with fun and action.
Miles Morales (voice of Shameik Moore) is a teen living in Brooklyn but going to a fancy prep school, which he hates. He is far more into graffiti art than constant study. But his father, a police lieutenant named Jefferson Davis (Brian Tyree Henry) wants him to concentrate and excel. He prefers hanging out with Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), a seeming n’er do well. Uncle Aaron brings him down to a deserted subway tunnel so he can do some large-scale graffiti, and there he is bitten by that famous radioactive spider.
Miles has no idea how to handle the new powers he suddenly has attained. It’s one thing to be able to create sticky anchors, but another to keep them from someone else’s hair. While wandering around trying to figure things out, he winds up in the middle of a battle between a monster controlled by the evil Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber) and the real Spider-Man (Chris Pine), over a space portal that can tear open the fabric of space-time. This time the bad guy wins, though, and Spider-Man dies.
Miles now is the only Spider-Man, or is he? Suddenly another Spider-Man (Jake Johnson) arrives in his room at school. This one, from another dimension, is not the Spidey we know and love. He has gotten pudgy and has lost his wife because of his behavior. He also has a bad attitude. Soon after, they are joined by other versions: Gwen Stacey, also known as Spider-Gwen (Hailee Seinfeld); Spider-Ham, a cartoon pig (John Mulaney); Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), an anime heroine with an advanced robot; and Spider-Man Noir (Nicholas Cage), who is completely black and white.
The group starts to bond as they work together battling a whole group of supervillains. Eventually, they get to, where else, Aunt May’s (Lily Tomlin) to produce some needed computer info. That leads into a series of final battles between good and evil with sideshows for Miles’ family issues. You can probably figure out whether good or evil wins.
Although the story is good and amusing, it is the sheer style that blows you away. More animated films now are essentially drawn versions of live movies. Here, the film-makers make certain the comic book roots are clear. And, yes, there have been a lot of Spideys in a whole lot of comics. At times, the screen actually looks like a comic book, with small written descriptions of people’s thoughts. While it sounds corny (shades of the old Batman series), it really works very well. I had a lot of fun.
The people doing the voices were really good. Moore was really fine as the lead, but everyone was really exceptional. The real standouts were Ali, Cage and Johnson. Tomlin had a lot of fun as the toughest Aunt May ever. There was even a cartoon cameo of the late Stan Lee, who modestly claims to have met the real Spider-Man.
Some critics have made the inclusivity of the cast the central reason they like the film. And, yes, the hero is from a mixed-race family (black/Hispanic). And they have an Asian version. Hey, they even have a cartoon pig. But, in reality, that doesn’t matter. When a movie is as good as this one is, you quickly forget about worrying about quotas.
Is this the best of all Spider-Man movies? That comes down to taste. I preferred the last one, Spider-Man: Homecoming. But I certainly enjoyed the fun of this one. While there were many scenes expected in these kinds of films, there were also some sentimental scenes (even superheroes have feelings) and a lot of laughs.
This is a fun film. Yes, there is a lot of violence, but it is cartoon style. You can bring kids to it and all of you will have a ball.