Fish and Cherries Productions

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Reel Snippet – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Swing into the family.

Summary: You know his story: Peter Parker (Chris Pine) became Spider-Man, saved New York many times, and found love… but this is not his story. We follow one Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a youngster from Brooklyn with a cop for a father (Brian Tyree Henry), a ne’er-do-well for an uncle (Mahershala Ali), and a new prestigious school to attend. One night, he comes across Spider-Man fighting the Kingpin (Liev Schrieber) and, to his horror, witnesses the death of the hero. But fate is funny, for some time earlier, Miles was bitten by a mutated spider and gained spider powers of his own and, because of the wormhole that Kingpin was trying to open before Spidey intervened, gotten his own mentor named… Peter Parker (Jake Johnson). He’s from another universe and he’s not the only one — a whole host of Spider-Folk have been pulled from their home dimensions and are ready to band together to stop Kingpin’s wormhole project from ripping the world apart. One problem: these people have been heroes for a long time and Miles, who saw the Kingpin’s plan firsthand, barely has a day of experience under his belt. With less than a day left before Kingpin’s next attempt, Miles is going to have to work hard and fast to start doing whatever a spider can.

Review: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was an utter delight, capturing the frantic energy and motion of Spider-Man while adding explosions of creativity that an animated movie can offer. It’s focus on Miles Morales is also welcome, as the character has a huge fanbase and they have been waiting for him to get his due. It’s not connected to the MCU either, so it can stand and breathe on its own. That’s not to say it’s completely independent of inspiration as there are numerous references to past Spider-Man movies, particularly the Raimi Trilogy, but still has enough of its own identity to be distinct.

The animation is just superb and vibrant, emulating comic books down to the poses, fight choreography, and even some sound effect words that are so well-known. Heck, they even have those colored dots you see in some comic panels. The more outlandish animation also lends itself to some interesting designs, like the Kingpin whose body is a monumental slab with his head jutting out from near the top, which gives him a larger-than-life look. Granted, the stylistic visuals use an odd frame rate count to make it look more comic book-like and even some strobe effects, so that might bug you if you have sensitive eyes.

The cast of colorful characters is worth commenting on, specifically the six spectacular Spider-Folk. The first two I’ve covered in the summary, but the other four deserve mentioning: a Spider-Woman who started out as Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), a hard-boiled Spider-Man from a film noir universe (Nicolas Cage), an anime-esque teenage girl who goes by Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) or SP//dr who pilots a spider mech, and a cartoon pig named Spider-Ham (John Mulaney) whose very existence skirts around the edge of a looney lawsuit, if you catch my drift. Noir and SP//dr are my favorite, but there’s attention to detail and meta jokes that make me smile, like Spider-Man Noir not understanding color because his universe is in black and white or Peni’s lip movements not matching her speech like dubbed movies of old.

That leads me to my biggest takeaway: it’s funny, clever, and tows the line between being respectful and irreverent perfectly. It loves Spider-Man as much as we do and fills the movie with homages, fourth wall humor, and even some parody, but also understands the source material enough to tell an original and engaging story. It’s so we’ll done that people are fine with it inventing new characters; fans usually hate it when adaptations throw in original characters (look no further than the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie for proof), but these new versions of Doctor Octopus (Kathryn Hahn) and Scorpion (Joaquin Cosio) are creative and engaging. Of course, I can’t forget to mention the brilliant casting of Lily Tomlin as Aunt May, aging her back up into a cool old person while other adaptations seem to age her down more and more.

So that brings us to the ultimate question: is this, as so many people have declared, the best Spider-Man movie ever made? It’s hard for me to say. While Spider-Man: Homecoming was a breath of fresh air and had a lot of wonderful moments, there’s something refreshing about a movie completely separate from any cinematic universe that’s able to stand on its own and be this amazing. It feels like the ultimate comic book movie, both in that it adapts its material so faithfully and that it goes out of its way to look like a comic book. I can’t think of anyone who won’t enjoy this movie — kids, adults, animation enthusiasts, film buffs, and many more will all find something to enjoy in this sensational masterpiece.

Fun Tidbit: Stan Lee, of course, gets a cameo and a tribute at the end. But if you blink, you might miss that one of the contacts on Miles’ dad’s phone is Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko, who also tragically passed away in 2018.

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