bren’s review published on Letterboxd:
I hate 3D animation. Or, I did hate it a lot. For me, 3D animation was always this symbol of studios putting technology and financial effeciency over actual artistry and style. Well, I just wasn’t looking hard enough, because Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse is so beautifully animated and stylized. It does the smartest thing in putting style over realism in order to tell a comic-book story the way it was meant to be told. This isn’t just one of my favorite animated films, and it’s not just my favorite Spider-man movies, it’s my favorite superhero movie of all time.
Earlier this year, in anticipation for Avengers: Infinity War (which feels like years ago), I did a series on my favorite superhero movies. The series concluded with me deciding that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was my favorite. I must’ve forgot that this film was on the horizon. The MCU has made me such a cynnic towards superhero films, and Disney and Illumination has made me a cynnic of 3D animated films, but watching the trailers to Into the Spider-verse, I knew something special was on the way.
And special it was. My heart was racing watching this film. All the beautiful scenery, wonderul set pieces, and all the meta stylings of this film just filled me to the brim with wonder; something few films do to me. I felt like a kid again, a kid who hasn’t grown tired of a genre I always dreamt of being a part of, a kid who went to movies to have fun, not just to learn, or critique. I had the time of my life laughing to this film’s wonderful sense of humor, and going wide-eyed for the emotional beats in this film.
Spider-man has always been about legacy, and taking on your responsibility and your destiny even when you aren’t ready for it. This film so properly captures everything that is so important to the character of Spider-man, and for me. This film’s drama and character development is so well-written, and it all lands so nicely, so gracefully. This really is everything the MCU wants to be. The drama doesn’t trip up between all the comedic beats and one-liners; it has its place and both sides of this film’s writing know to keep separated. Miles’ story is so well-done, even Peter’s arc feels so fulfilling. This film plays around with the different universes thing so damn amazingly.
And the action, so well-written and animated! The way the action scenes unfold is so fluid it’s like watching a Rube Goldberg machine go off. Good animated films have this knack for giving their characters true flexibility and the animation techniques used here make the action feel so great! It feels so, so good to watch the action in this movie, it was honestly way more satisfying than Mission: Impossible - Fallout. Oh yeah, I know.
After this film, Aquaman comes out, Captain Marvel comes out, and Avengers: Endgame comes out, and I think that sucks. We are in an era in Hollywood where the superhero genre does not get to adapt to groundbreaking work. The MCU will still look the same, the DC movies will look the same in years to come. Hell, Disney and everyone else will still make all their movies exactly alike, like they always do. But, in the end, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, will always stand out to me, and I can’t wait to relive all it’s amazing moments of fanservice, action, laughs, and drama, over and over again.
After six months of holding the top spot, Hereditary is finally coming down to number 2. Ladies, gentleman, everyone in between and every which way, I present to you my new current best film of the year. And honestly, I see very few films that could make me feel a love for film and cinema as much as this did.
I mean, if you told me last year that a film made by Sony Pictures Animation would even be on my top of the year list at all I would’ve laughed out loud...
EDIT: I can’t believe how many of the voice actors I didn’t notice. One of my favorite actors this year, Brian Tyree Henry plays Miles’ dad and I was sitting there I totally forgot! The only actors I remembered were in this were Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, and Hailee Steinfeld (and John Mulaney of course). Shameik is a perfect Miles, Hailee is good as Gwen, but Jake Johnson really surprised me here. He’s never really been in, or never had a chance, to flex any real muscles (he was such a regular dude on New Girl) but he did really great in Peter’s dramatic scenes. I’m glad I didn’t look into the cast right before because some of the credits are spoilers which sucks but my God what an amazing fucking cast. Mahershala Ali, Kathryn Hahn, Nic Cage are all doing some good shit here. I completely forgot that Liev Schreiber was playing Kingpin because of how good he was doing. It’s not that often that a voice cast of screen actors all do such an amazing job, so the directors did so, so good on that.