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

I'd argue the movie Into the Spider-verse most resembles is not Batman: Ninja with which it shares a central conceit: machine creates multiple versions of Batmans and villains, each of which are animated in different styles. Instead, I'd go for Mad Max: Fury Road[1] which is, of course, extremely high praise. But like that movie, Spider-verse is almost absurdly formally daring while still holding on to the characters, the love, and the institutional history of the title.

I have a friend who hasn't yet migrated her reviews to Letterboxd who points out that this has an amazing grasp of the "frames" aspect of comic books, and how that shows the sense of joy in Miles Morales when he finally starts swinging around. As with the rest of the movie, it creates an old-school anchor on which to chain all of the more interesting animation techniques that are going on. But the aspect that most astonished me are the colors! Oh my, the colors![2] It isn't a question of brightness or contrast - it is how the animation also reflects (particularly Golden Age) comic-books by diverging from same line locations slightly depending on distance from the focal point in order to create "blur" as well as to indicate different time frames or locations. It's an astonishing effect.

As far as the script goes, it feels important to mention that this is the first movie to deliver comic-book Peter Parker to the screen with his wit intact. The quips and jokes he tells aren't always laugh-out-loud funny, but they are consistently good for chuckles,

I have one quibble that keeps this from being a masterpiece. If it had just nailed the one point "Everybody can be a super-hero" over and over again, it would be perfect. But it lets itself get distracted by the inevitable revelations about a character and misunderstandings with family-members and other things that maybe feel necessary to somebody in the Spider-man hierarchy, but don't need to be here. Get rid of that silliness, and this thing is a tight 90 minutes and it would be one of the best movies ever made. Instead is has to settle for being second-best comic-book movie ever made. Which is still pretty impressive, but, you know, so close...

[1] Colon-a-palooza, over here.

[2] watched with 4K/HDR, natch, but I'm not sure the saturation was necessary; it certainly wasn't crucial for the effect I described.

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