Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse

Painted on a canvas cloaked in the used-toilet tissue of Andy Warhol but stained in the kind of clever libretto usually only found in a critique of one of his works, Sony’s new animated “Spider-Man” sits on the Sheldon Cooper side of the sofa – where the super clever, remarkably witty, easily excitable and let’s be honest, slightly odd-looking, pinch their pillows.
Yep, this isn’t your older brother’s Spidey.

If there’s been one major common complaint about the live-action “Spider-Man” movies of the past decade or so, it’s that they’ve all sung from the same lyric sheet. There’s the low, low, low notes (when Uncle Ben meets his maker), the pulsating high notes (when Spidey discovers his powers) and the ominous key-wallops that accompany the villain-of-the-week as he snatches – once again – the hero’s love interest.

‘With great power, comes great responsibility’…blah, blah…

You’ll be glad to know “Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse” is as different to the Raimi/Webb/Carr incarnations as an arachnologist is to an anthropologist.

Instead of Peter Parker (though he does feature prominently in the movie), our main antagonist here is Miles Morales, a New York teen who, like his predecessor(s), is infected with spider sap that makes him all jumpy-climby-building.

When Parker is killed – in a battle witnessed by the teen himself – the jumbled youth realizes he might be the only hope left.

Much to Miles’ surprise, the long-dead Peter Parker turns up, explaining that he’s the alternate version from the multi-verse. Gwen Stacey, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir, and Peni Parker follow. Together, they’ll all help Miles hone his superhero skills and take down the bad guys (there’s quite a few).

With its radically different-looking animation style (though it takes a few minutes to get used to, it really starts to ‘pop’ after a while), a first-time “Spider-Man” movie plot (yahoo!) and a sticky-palm’s worth of wit, this is the kind of unique and wacky superhero movie treat that studios wouldn’t normally allow to brandish their banner. After their success with the equally clever “Lego” movies, Sony obviously felt comfortable letting Phil Lord and Chris Miller -here, serving as producers, overseeing Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman‘s direction – take the web themselves.

The script, by Lord and Rothman, successfully takes the mickey out of the Stan Lee created-character, and the character’s back catalogue of hits and misses (there’s a great “Spider-Man 3” joke here), while astoundingly also paying the ultimate respect to the character. Like the best comic book movie, it’s admirable infusion of humour and adventure should be taught at superhero-movie making schools.
Most of all, and like some of Pixar’s best, “Into the Spider-Verse” is firmly determined to offer something for everyone of all ages – the cute side characters for the kids, the witty in-jokes for the adults, the empowering female warriors for the strong women, and a dose of mandatory comic-book style biffo for the stringent fan.

“Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse” is one of the true superhero movie highlights in years.

Blu-ray : This looks and sounds as magnificently as it did in the theater – even better, depending on your home set-up – and the extras component isn’t too shabby either. Bonus features include featurettes, an entertaining audio commentary,  alternate scenes, a Stan Lee and Steve Ditko tribute, a ‘Spider-Ham’ mini-movie and more!

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