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Review: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

We’ve got a pretty great live-action Spider-Man right now in the MCU with Tom Holland but as great as he is as Peter Parker, none of the Spider-Man movies have had the unbridled love for all iterations of the wall-crawler like Into The Spider-Verse.

The first huge foray into animation since they’ve had the Spider-Man license, Sony Animation brings us the origin story of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), who exists in a parallel universe that seems to be a mix of Ultimate Spider-Man and the Raimi universe.  The Peter Parker of his universe was killed by the Kingpin (Liev Schrieber) but The Kingpin’s messing with a particle accelerator brings a whole host of other Spider-People to Miles’ universe including the older and schlubbier Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage) and Spider-Ham (John Mulaney).  The Spiders have to figure out a way to get home while also preventing Kingpin from destroying all the multiverse and Miles needs to learn the ropes to become a true Spider-Man.  Despite the insanity of the multiverse, the movie does a great job of telling Miles’ origin story and the voice work of Shameik Moore and the incredible animation make Miles someone you care about and root for from minute one.  He has a fantastic journey to becoming Spider-Man, including some emotional dramatic beats but it all builds to one of the most triumphant moments in any recent superhero movie.  The rest of the voice cast is stellar as well, with Nicolas Cage and John Mulaney allowed to go fully weird with their versions of the web-head while Jake Johnson turns out to be the perfect choice for the slightly bitter Peter B, who’s been Spider-Man for over 20 years and has run into a personal rough patch recently.  The supporting cast like Brian Tyree Henry, Mahershala Ali, Lily Tomlin, Kathryn Hahn, and Zoe Kravitz all bring lots of character and depth to their roles as well.  If I had one minor nitpick it’s that Miles goes from unable to do anything to expert level in a slightly too fast manner but it’s nothing that detracts from the story of the movie.  There’s also some emotional arcs for some of the other characters that don’t quite work or have enough time to hit, like Peter B’s relationship to his MJ or a beat during the finale with Peni.

It was pretty clear from the trailer but seeing Into the Spider-Verse on the big screen, the animation and the style on display is jaw-droppingly stunning.  Tom Holland’s Spider-Man has a great comic accurate costume but Spider-Verse is literally like stepping into the pages of a comic, with sound effects and Miles’ thoughts in comic style boxes and it constantly flashes around to panels or literal comic books when each Spider tells their origin.  The way each Spider-Man also keeps their trademark style is also a fun and fantastic part of the animation like Spider-Ham looking and acting like a Looney Tunes character while Peni Parker is full on anime and Spider-Man Noir is black and white.  The fact that Spider-Verse is animated also allows some things that you could never even imagine in live action, like a psychedelic finale where universes are colliding in pretty much every color that exists and some hilarious slapstick set pieces that you could never implement in live action either.  There’s also just some straight up awesome action set pieces, including a brawl at Aunt May’s house with a bunch of new spins on some iconic Spider-Man villains.  The movie also references, much like the also Lord & Miller produced Lego Batman Movie, all eras of Spider-Man with some hilarious nods and references to everything from the Spider-Mobile to the 60’s cartoon (and all the memes that have resulted) to the Raimi movies and everything in between and it’s just a joyous love letter to everything Spidey.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is stunning on pretty much every level.  It’s a fantastic origin story for Miles Morales mixed with insanely multiverse insanity with an incredible voice cast and an animation style and looks that has never been seen before and is jaw dropping on the big screen.  It’s like literally stepping into a Spider-Man comic and if you are any level of Spidey fan, this is a must watch.

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