Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman
Screenplay by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman, Story by Phil Lord
Based on “Miles Morales” by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli
Starring Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Nicolas Cage and Liev Schreiber
Audiences who had the patience to sit through the antics in Sony’s “Venom,” were treated to an extended sequence from “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” as a post credits sequence. Admittedly, I sat through the sequence, not necessarily list, but in awe at the beautiful animation. It was full of humor as our hero, Miles Morales, voiced by Shameik Moore, zips around New York City with an unconscious Peter Parker in tow. We don’t necessarily know why and we’re aren’t meant to know why; just that it looked exciting and dangerous.
The audience for that screening applauded with shrieks of excitement of what was to come. Was it worth the second wait?
Unequivocally, yes, it was worth the wait. Gone is the cheekiness from that permeated “Venom,” replaced with a brighter tone to the darker story of our webbed hero. Here is a time-twisting, parallel-inducing story of courage in the face of the odds. Miles is a high school aged-student. His mom is a nurse, his dad is a police officer. One of the bigger jokes that plays in the trailer and thankfully doesn’t get ruined over the course of the story is how playful Morales’s father (Brian Tyree Henry) is in expressing his love towards his son.
Mind you, Miles doesn’t want the affection afforded him by his parents. He wants to be more expressive than the new boarding school his parents have placed him in and his uncle, Aaron (Mahershala Ali) is just the ticket. And that’s when a rogue technology-drive spider bites Morales, giving him his powers.
Not to be outdone though, the film’s villain Kingpin (Live Schreiber) uses technology to return him to his wife and daughter by accessing parallel universes. The activation of the technology brings multiple Spider-people into our universe. An older, disheveled and jaded Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) tries to connect with Miles, but with mixed results. Miles, who was inspired by the Spider-Man of his own dimension wants to do the right thing, but in this story, can’t yet grasp the ideas behind the character.
Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman’s story fold in the traditional elements of a Spider-Man story, but they fine tune it for the dimension inducing elements introduced here. Along with the older Peter Parker, we also get Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), Peter Porker (John Mulaney), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) as they all join forces to not only return to their respective universes, but to also defeat Kingpin.
With all of the iterations of Spider-Man, Lord and Rothman’s story also puts Miles front and center. This might appear to be a redundant statement, but with as many characters as populated this film’s 117-minute run time, the story finds time to allow us to get to know Miles while subtly altering “with great power comes great responsibility” theme. I like the fact that this story also doesn’t immediately assume that Morales is an orphan. He’s got a great, loving family. In fact it makes a reveal in the second half of the film that much more powerful, but you’ll need to see the film to see what I mean.
The animation is amongst the best I’ve seen in 2018 and it gives the story and the film a pulpy, animated look. And though I am not a comic book fan, this certainly got my attention in all the right ways.
3.5 out of 4