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Since this is my first review, I decided to choose the first film I ever watched in 2019: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. And what can I say? For me, it clearly sets the bar for any other film I will watch this year, for multiple reasons:
As someone who's seen every Spider-Man film beforehand, I at first worried that this would tread a similar path as the Raimi and Webb movies - taking pains to recap EVERY detail of the main character's origin story we've seen before, etc. I was pleasantly surprised that the film opened with a joke about film reboots that take too long to recap what the audience already knows. This sets the tone for the rest of the movie.
I can't think of a single thing this movie does wrong. It's a perfect celebration of everything we love about the Wall-Crawler without feeling at all like a rehash of previous films. The animation is breathtaking, the plot is enrapturing, the comedy is amazing, the dramatic scenes pack an emotional punch, and the ending will bring a smile to even the most embittered filmgoer's face.
Miles Morales is the most magnetic, likable protagonist of any animated film I've seen in a long time. The other Spider-people are pretty cool too: Spider-Gwen is a badass big sister-figure, Peni Parker is just adorable, Spider-Ham is the perfect living tribute to cartoons classic and modern, and Spider-Noir is a tough, grizzled, nattily dressed, Nazi-punching detective played by the inimitable Nicolas Cage hamming it up like nobody's business. The Peter Parker we see in this film is both a departure and a more cynical look at the Spider-Man we're used to seeing: far from the snarky optimist he usually is, he's been left by decades of unrewarded superheroing and financial struggles as a bitter, jaded divorcee (no deal with Mephisto this time, though.) Aunt May here has a lot in common with Alfred, Jefferson Morales is an awesomely supportive-yet-somewhat-embarrassing father, Uncle Aaron is wonderfully complex, and Stan Lee gets a very meaningful cameo. Even the villains, despite their relative lack of focus, managed to make an impression either through sympathetic motives (Kingpin), badass designs (Scorpion, Tombstone, Prowler), or... other reasons (Doc Ock.)
Bottom line: if you like animated movies, and you like superhero movies, you're gonna love this.
Into The Spider-Verse is a truly outstanding film on many levels, especially in an era of bog-standard, lazy 3D CGI movies, and sets the new standard for what can be done with the medium - not just for superhero movies, but any and all stories.
First off, you can tell the people involved in this movie not only deeply care about the Spider-Man mythos, but are also fans of the character, and as such are more than willing to make cheeky nods to the hilariously off-kilter moments of the franchise in addition to the well-known and cool stuff (the MacGuire dance, anyone?) - The Stinger in particular had me dying of laughter. On top of that, much like the MCU forgoing a third adaptation of Peter's iconic backstory, Spider-Verse slims down the histories of each of its protagonists (aside from Miles himself) into two minute-long, fast-paced recaps that clearly differentiate the Spiders from each other while also providing lots of laughs and keeping the pacing up. The protagonists themselves are great - Miles is a relatable fresh face of a teenager trying to figure out his life and his new powers, Spider-Prime is (to my knowledge) the first blonde Peter Parker and pretty much The Ace of the entire cast, Spider-Noir is the Nicolas Cage role we deserve, etc. - and the villains are also solid, even if only Kingpin and two of his henchmen (won't spoil who since they're both twists) get significant screentime and characterization. The story itself doesn't revolutionize the coming-of-age storyline, but the characters involved make it as compelling as any all the same. And as for the action, well, it's up there with Incredibles 2 as having some of the most creative fight scenes ever put to film, both content- and visual-wise.
Speaking of visuals, this movie is fucking GORGEOUS at all levels - color palettes, cinematography, scene transitions, stylistic choices, you name it, Spider-Verse pulls it off with uniqueness and aplomb. I've held for a while now that Avengers: Infinity War is the most comic book-feeling movie due to how it brings so many characters together so easily and casually like, well, the comic books do...but Spider-Verse is easily the most comic book-LOOKING movie. I didn't think it was possible to effectively bring that medium to animation, but this film proved me dead wrong. Even if you're somehow not interested in what's happening on screen at any given moment, the look of the film blows almost all the other 3D CGI crap released in the last decade out of the water (excluding good stuff like The Incredibles ofc) and, as said above, really demonstrates that this medium has so much more potential than is displayed year after year.
Conclusion: if you're not into Spider-Man, this movie will get you into Spider-Man. If you ARE into Spider-Man, this is your childhood brought to life. Cherish it. Buy more tickets for it. GET ME SEQUELS TO SPIDER-MAN!
The whole time watching Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, I kept getting distracted by the feeling that I had seen something like this already. There's a bit of Deadpool's metafictional gags, a bit of Big Hero Six's Western take on Super Sentai heroes, but there was something major that I wasn't able to put my finger on until the closing credits. Then I saw Phil Lord was the writer, and it all made sense. Of course, the Lego Movie guy!
This movie is exactly like the Lego Movie. Well, maybe not exactly, but the familial resemblance is clear as day. It's a vibrant, funny, hyper-kinetic, animated movie thing with a heart of gold and a message about how you - Yes you! - are a super awesome chap. This time around, the Lord leans more into the diversity aspect of that exact same message - the idea that a great person can look like anyone, and in the case of Spider-Man, that person can be a black-Latino kid. Once again, Lord is mostly successful at this. As with The Lego Movie, this feels like a deeply sincere story, doing a masterful job of successfully disguising the giant, child hungry corporate beast behind the screen.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is about Miles Morales, a kid who isn't Spider-Man, but who never-the-less gets bitten by a spider. Before he can get into the swing of his own super hero origin story though, alternate dimension versions of Spider-Man start dropping in all around him, and together they must fight to stop Kingpin's blackhole generating doomsday machine. One you look past the self-referential fractal madness of a setting where both Spider-Man and comic books about Spider-Man both exist, you find a fairly simple story. Again, Phil Lord mostly manages to distract you from it with laugh a minute gags and breakneck action, but the skeleton of the plot structure shows through. A kid might not notice, but anyone a little older will see the story beats straight away, and feel a little more bored for it.
Outside of occasionally intrusive blurry filtering effects, this is a triumphantly beautiful piece of animation that is able to do far more than any live action movie. So many moments look like they deserve their own poster. The finale alone looks like a perpetual explosion of colour and motion. I came away from Spider-Verse having had a really good time. My only major complaint is that having being created outside of Disney Marvel, this movie gets a fraction of the publicity it deserves.
The art style is mind-blowing, like a comic book come to life.The easter eggs and shout outs are so plentiful that trivia-driven fans will be kept occupied for hours figuring them all out, while the story is compelling enough for those of us who are fans of the themes and storytelling of the genre. Excellent use of the origin story motif to draw the parallels between the different Spiders, and they were smart about the use of the "out there" characters, enough to help use relate to them, but not so much as to make them annoying. Miles and Peter B. Parker are characters whose relationships and personal issues are stunningly real. It makes it easy to connect to the characters and care about what happens to them.
All that said, if you have photosensitive issues, this may be the worst movie I've seen in a long time. (I'm sure there are others, I just haven't seen them). I get what they were going for, but I didn't feel like that amount of flashing effects was required to accomplish their goals. Even pre-medicating, I ended up with a migraine. I loved it, but I won't ever see it again on the big screen, and not sure I even would on a smaller one.
Gonna keep this brief. This is not the perfect Spider-Man movie. That probably still goes to Spider-Man 2. This is still a very well-made, solid movie with a very unique art style and characters that you'll grow to like. The storytelling is predictable, going through the standard three act structure you'll find in a lot of other movies, and some characters may not shine as well as others, but don't let that ruin your experience.
Don't go into this movie with the highest of expectations because of Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, or iMDB. Keep it moderate and you'll have a very fun time.
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