Movie | Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman | Release Date: Dec. 14 | Runtime: 1 Hour & 57 Minutes | Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
I wonder how many people have ever desired to be a superhero — I know I have. I’d argue that probably is a reason why superhero films are so profitable these days. With a seemingly-endless array of these movies coming out nowadays, it’s easy for them to become rather generic in their execution. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is a lot of things, but generic is not one of them.
For starters, while he is in the film, this movie doesn’t star Peter Parker. No, viewers are treated to the origin story of Miles Morales instead. Miles is a stylistic depiction of an everyday New Yorker: he’s into graffiti, he listens to music and he’s well known by everyone in his borough. His life changes when he starts going to a private school, much to his own chagrin. Morales’ father is adamant about his attendance at the school, which causes a rift between Morales and the rest of his immediate family. Luckily, Morales finds solace in his uncle who shares his interest in graffiti.
During an outing together, Morales is bitten by a radioactive spider and doesn’t seek immediate medical attention. Maybe he’s seen enough superhero movies to know what’s about to happen to him. Needless to say, powers of the friendly neighborhood variety start to ensue.
Morales is going through changes bigger than the average teenager is used to facing and he has no one to confide in. Cue Peter Parker, who happens to stumble upon a kid with powers much like his own. With the number of web-slingers growing all the time, Morales has to navigate his newfound abilities before someone gets hurt.
The film stars Shameik Moore as Miles Morales, Jake Johnson as Peter Parker and Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy. There were plenty of talented voices showcased throughout the film, but Moore truly shines through the rest as Morales. Aside from television and video game appearances, Morales hasn’t been voiced for an audience before. Perhaps this was why it was so easy for Moore to win me over with his performance, but I like to believe his ability is what really elevated him in this role. The voices of Nicolas Cage and Liev Schreiber are also present in the film; they do a lot to help this version of Spider-Man’s universe come to life, but they are not so pivotal to the film that their absence would have been noticed. It was really awesome to see Steinfeld bring Spider-Gwen to life on the big screen, and I couldn’t imagine any other actor being this kind of Peter Parker other than Johnson.
The story may seem by-the-numbers at first, but there is indeed a slight twist in execution that keeps it from feeling like any other superhero film that has come before it. The key difference in Morales’ first outing, however, lies in this movie’s art direction. I’ve read comic books, I’ve viewed motion comics but this film’s artstyle is such a treat for the eyes. Watching Morales tap his pencil against his throat and seeing the lines that simulate sound in a comic book pop with each tap leaves me giddy. When events are playing out and the action breaks up into panels to show it all happening at once, I’m on the edge of my seat. Directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman clearly had a vision in their minds that I truly believe came to light when I sat down in the theater.
That being said, the movie wasn’t without its flaws. For starters, and this may sound trivial to some, there was a lot of amateur actions by our cast of heroes. It’s no spoiler that this movie follows Morales’ first outing as Spider-Man, so any mistakes by him are not only expected, but they lend to the movie. The movie does have many seasoned heroes that have been saving the day for a while now, yet so many of them are constantly breaking one of the most basic of superhero rules: unmasking in public. I can’t even forgive Morales for doing this either because he lives in a world where superheroes are commonplace, so he ought to know the importance of protecting his identity. The film shows people unmasking in daylight, on public transportation; at one point, Morales is walking up the side of a building in his school uniform. CinemaSins is going to have a field day with this movie. Other than that glaring annoyance, the story does suffer from the occasional plot hole, but it’s ultimately an enjoyable experience.
I’m not going to mince words — I really enjoyed this movie. The cast was enjoyable, the visuals were gorgeous and even the soundtrack, which I tend to lose in the background of movies, was noteworthy and added to the overall experience. It’s not a perfect movie by any means, but it’s the best movie I’ve seen this year and is the best Marvel movie I’ve seen in a while. I can only hope that this isn’t the last time we see Miles Morales thwipping on the big screen.
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