Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse Review
There are certain moments in life that just stand out. These moments may be happy, sad, loud, quiet, intense, or reflective. What they have in common is how they manage to bury themselves into our minds and to utterly redefine us, sometimes immediately. For me, some of these moments take the form of cinematic experiences. Such experiences include my first exposures to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Sense & Sensibility, Toy Story, Raiders of the Lost Ark, There Will Be Blood, and, more recently, Moonlight. These movies all came along suddenly and without warning, broke me apart, built me back up, and simply sent me reeling. In December of 2018, yet another film worked such magic on me.
I’m not a huge fan of superhero movies. Sometimes I enjoy them quite a bit, like when I saw Iron Man, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or Guardians of the Galaxy. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, however, was something else entirely. It’s not just that it’s a gorgeously animated movie in a time when we haven’t seen groundbreaking animation from American studios, it’s also what the film did to me. It has been a long time since I’ve spent the whole time watching a movie both laughing and crying (not simultaneously). The film is an emotional roller-coaster.
Spider-Verse has been getting really good press since its release. If you read the reviews, you’ll see various aspects of the film praised, the animation and the writing in particular. It’s true; both are superb. The writing is especially gratifying given that superhero films tend to prioritize good dialogue least. As well, its voice performances and character development are just fantastic. I think Shameik Moore is outstanding as the main character, Miles Morales, and Jake Johnson gives one of the best performances of his career.
However, I want to talk about what the film does that very few others do. I think Spider-Verse manages to reach two audiences: comic-book fans and movie-lovers. What’s more impressive is that it does so seamlessly. It speaks to both audiences with the same imagery and the same language. I went to see it with a couple of friends, both of whom are comic-book fans. I, on the other hand, fall firmly into the movie-lover camp (I’m practically comic-book illiterate). After the movie ended, we were all buzzing about the same scenes and the same characters, albeit for different reasons entirely. Spider-Verse, instead of being two movies rolled into one, manages to be a singular vision, enjoyable for anyone.
I also want to mention the music. In this case, I mean both the soundtrack and the score. The songs, generally blends of modern R&B, pop, and trap, fit the story extremely well. (The soundtrack is just okay outside of the movie.) In particular, “Sunflower” serves as the perfect anthem for Miles (the main character). Daniel Pemberton’s score, which combines DJ scratching, breakbeat, and orchestral music, is sublime. The score is great to listen to outside of the film.
I will shamelessly admit that I have seen Spider-Verse five times in theatres, and I want to see it yet again. It just speaks to me in a way that few films do, and I think it will have that effect on many people. It is, after all, a superhero movie; it’s very easy to like. I also think that the message at the core of the film actually gets to the heart of why superheroes, and Spider-Man in particular, are important to our society.
Simply put, this movie rocks. See it as soon as you can, on the biggest screen possible!