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

Let me join the chorus: wow. Proof that however saturated the market gets with superhero movies, their potential to accomplish wonders is never exhausted. To somewhat lesser heights of awesomeness this sort of thing happens every year, actually; there's usually at least one truly superlative superhero film during every annual cycle these days, but the genre blasts us so relentlessly with its releases that it's easy to forget. Chances are even this movie won't be properly hoisted up the flagpole as an icon of superhero cinema greatness, the way "The Dark Knight" or "Spider-Man 2" were. It's the 4th alternate iteration of Spider-Man we've gotten since the dawn of modern superhero movies less than 20 years ago, and it's occurring simultaneously alongside a different ongoing blockbuster Spider-Man franchise. This shit could get confusing in a few more years...therefore, it makes sense that this movie stands out by leaning into the convoluted mechanics of its pop culture lore with self-aware aplomb, pulling a "Lego Batman"-type ultra-clever half-spoof/half sophisticated narrative push forward against an innovative animation technique. Doing the CGI in a comic book illustration style gives it the illusion of rotoscoping in a way, making the the whole movie a heretofore unseen marriage of occasionally photo-realistic design and pleasurable cartoony distortion. The best of both worlds, not to mention the wild use of speech balloons on screen and other weird and wonderful outside-the-box visual concepts at play.

I won't recap the entirety of what makes this movie so special, as it's been documented so well elsewhere. But it's entertainment that fires on all cylinders, that reinvigorates tropes and satisfies on a next-level plain. It serves as a progressive taunt to superhero and blockbuster cinema in general to step up their game. Bravo!

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