Tim Burnham’s review published on Letterboxd:
What a sweet and innocent and beautiful game changer of a film. What a buoyantly charming and ludicrously realized world these lunatics created.
Miles Morales is the hero we needed in 2018 and we didn’t quite realize it until the last seconds of the terrible year. He’s a kid. He’s innocent, goofy, GOOD, he’s never looking for a fight, he’s scared, genuinely scared too not Hollywood scared, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s trying his best which sometimes isn’t enough, but he’s trying.
We need more heroes like Miles...and (and this’ll sound like a joke but it’s not) like Peter B Parker. Regular people who don’t win all the time and aren’t magically gifted beyond the work they put into finding their talent and specialness.
Peter B lost. He’s depressed and overweight and cries in the shower and can’t get out of bed and falls to pieces watching a nature documentary because it’s relatable to his pain, he fucked up his life, got hurt too many times, lost his love, and gave up. And then found a second wind and tried again.
That’s the hero we need. We don’t need another miraculous Chris (even though Chris Pine is delightful here too) who’s ripped and white and says witty things and never looks like he’s close to losing the fight.
Because these movies aren’t about the fighting. They never are and never should be. Genre is a stepping stone, not an endpoint. No good horror movie is JUST about being scary. It’s about something human that digs into our fears. And superhero movies shouldn’t be about saving the day or punching back, that’s just a trope of the genre.
And this film gets that. That’s why it works so well. Because it still has all the hallmarks. It still has the big fights and the origin cliches and the hero journey. But it’s not about that. It’s about regular people being better than they believe they are capable.
About kids going to scary new schools away from their friends finding the strength to deal with a new experience or about middle aged divorcees not succumbing to the downslide of their miserable broken life but finding the resolve to try again and confront the scary thing.
This film understands the essence of its genre so much better than almost every single one of its competitors and peers. Because it’s a thesis on what heroism means and what courage is in day to day life.
And if the film was just that, it would be enough. If it was just a regular animated or live action SpiderMan movie with that intent and message it would still be better than anything else in the genre being made right now. But it’s not. It tells that beautiful and actually hopeful story in a stunning and clever and funny and fresh way. With animation you’ve never seen before and a thousand clever jokes woven into the very DNA of the thing. Even the sound design is riddled with thought, artistry, and humour. Think about the Prowlers score and sound, or the cerebral spidey-sense sounds, OR how all of Spider-Ham’s movements have faint cartoon movement sounds to them, even in the big bombastic fight scenes. It’s such a beautiful thing.
Fuckin give this Best Picture and I won’t bat an eye.