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

PART OF "2018 RANKED" :) 

There are only one or two superhero films that I think make a reasonable claim at being called “great movies”. They are: Brad Bird’s practically perfect The Incredibles and Sam Raimi’s deliciously zany Spider-Man 2. I’ve long wondered when (or if) another one might come along to compete for that title. Well, one finally did, and lemme tell ya, I never thought it would be an animated flick by SONY. From its opening moments, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse swings for the heights, and gets there. It’s really good, and good in such a charming, casual and kinetic way that you could easily miss the breadth of its brilliance due to being so swept up in it. Technically masterful, thoughtfully conceived and smartly written, it‘s an exhilarating rollercoaster that will convince you that anyone can be Spider-Man, and that superhero movies do matter. With great power, comes great entertainment. 

Aesthetically, it’s a complete knockout, with the first minute alone being more creatively distinct and visually interesting than any of the 20 MCU movies thus far, and it only picks up from there. Dynamic movement, unique angles, impeccable detailing, reduced frame-rates and a kaleidoscopic array of saturated colours make this the most stunning, surprising and often downright-insane visual experience you’re likely to have in a multiplex this year. In a time where comic book movies often look duller and flatter than the ink-marked paper they’re adapting, Spider-Verse perfectly captures the feel of flipping through a comic book, and turns it into something richly and thrillingly cinematic. 

There’s more to marvel at then pretty visuals, however. Almost every character makes a strong impression, especially Miles Morales and Peter Parker, each of whom get fully rounded and winningly complimentary arcs that quickly emerge as the heart and soul of the film. It’s amusing and wholeheartedly moving to see these two Spider-Men learn from each other, and when Miles dons his costume and takes a (gorgeously filmed) leap of faith, the audience might as well be soaring through the skies as well. The other various Spider-Beings are fun too, and have immediately distinct designs and personalities that coalesce into a diverse and comically dynamic team. That the script manages to balance a large array of characters and execute a complex, dimension-colliding premise without suffering any injuries to deftness, humour or pace is nothing short of remarkable. In fact, as far as pace is concerned, the movie probably runs a little too fast at times, resulting in a few narrative elements being left shortchanged. Despite a hulking, impossibly large design, Kingpin isn’t a very weighty antagonist, and a potentially powerful plot line involving Miles’ uncle isn’t developed enough to have the emotional impact it strives for. The latter is probably the film’s only really significant flaw, but such an immaculately sprawling web can cope with one broken string, and what a gorgeous web this movie is. 9/10 

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