Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ★★★★½

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An absolute treat all around, Into the Spider-Verse is one of the best cinematic surprises in years.

First off, visually the movie is astounding. It has a fresh aesthetic that perfectly combines comic books and CG, mixing in split-screen cuts, on-screen text, and other visual treats effortlessly. The climax is a colorful smorgasbord that wouldn't work in a live-action film, although I did fine it went a tad long.

The characters are fantastic. In particular, I loved Miles Morales. Even before he's Spider-Man, he's funny, confident, and self-deprecating, all while adjusting to a new school where he's rapidly losing that confidence. I could almost have watched 2 hours of him just trying to fit in at the school and adjust to his new life. It's a nuanced situation that would get handled so clumsily in most movies dealing with high-schoolers, and is done to perfection here. Miles' family, his father and uncle in particular, shine as interesting and fully-developed relations, not ham-fisted cardboard 'tough cop dad' and 'shady uncle' caricatures. It's ironic that this, perhaps the most comic-inspired movie I've seen, has characters more nuanced and grounded than any other comic book movie, or most movies I watch for that matter.

The multiverse-bending story working more congruently than I thought it would. From the brief trailers I watched I expected more 'everything and the kitchen sink' and an anime-level of unrestrained mess when it came to plot. While things aren't cut-and-dried straightforward, the story is streamlined and told in an elegant-enough fashion that the coalescing of multiverse Spider-people makes sense and you can follow what's going on and grasp the stakes involved for everyone. There are also exciting action scenes sprinkled throughout, and mixed with a liberal dose of laugh-out-loud moments, the movie is entertaining from start to finish.

I recently moved to the States from Canada and got the 'AMC A-list' pass which gives you essentially unlimited access to movies for $20/month. This is one movie I might not have seen otherwise, certainly not in the theater, and I feel like the pass has already paid for itself five-fold. This will also be the first movie since The Force Awakens that I'm planning to see in the theater again, and I can't wait to find any more gems thanks to the flex of having the pass.