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

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is absolutely amazing, spectacular, insert Spider-Man pun here. I’m getting them out of the way early because this movie deserves better. Remarkably innovative in how it presents itself, it’s the rare animated adventure film that’s not aiming for that comedic/action equilibrium. This film is very funny, but it’s concerned first and foremost with being a superhero movie, and what a superhero movie it is. Miles Morales’ origin story feels fresh because of the more out-there plotting of alternate dimensions allowed by animation and the absolutely gorgeous art style on display here. It takes the idea of anyone could be a superhero to a logical conclusion: who said Spider-Man is limited to Peter Parker? Indeed, since Spider-Man’s inception, he has been intended to be anybody who could fit behind the mask. The Spider-Beings in this film are so varied and each of them are heroes in the purest comic book sense I’ve ever seen.

The voice cast is marvelous; Moore anchors the film well but honestly, everyone here is doing a peak performance within their voice-acting. The direction is insanely smart. I’m a huge fan of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller but I’m glad they stepped back on this one, as the action is legitimately astounding to watch and the self-referential humor never undercuts the sincerity going on here. This is Miles’ origin story before a wacky Spider-Verse movie and it never loses sight of that emotional heart. I’ve mentioned it already, but this is utterly gorgeous to watch. The melding of art styles, dropping the framerate, and the comic book color and elements on display make this easily one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen in theaters, and the 3D takes it to a point of being overwhelming but in a truly marvelous sense.

I could go on about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but for now, I’ll leave you with this, since I’m sure I’ll see this quite a few more times in theaters. When I was six, I saw the original Spider-Man movie by Sam Raimi, and I was enraptured by Spider-Man and wanting to be Spider-Man. I got a Spider-Man encyclopedia for Christmas and although I never read comics, I absolutely loved the character. I haven’t thought about that obsession in years, and both times I’ve watched Spider-Verse, those memories have come rushing back. This captures the joy and hope of wanting to be Spider-Man beautifully, while never losing sight of the tragedy inherent to Spider-Man’s character, the gift and the curse of great power and great responsibility. I am so, so glad this generation is going to grow up with not just Peter, but also Miles, Gwen, Porker, Noir, and Peni. We may have too many movies and reboots coming out, but we can never have too many heroes to look up to. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse revitalizes a genre through winning art direction and phenomenal classical storytelling. A truly fantastic movie, and the year’s best blockbuster.

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