I am very particular when it comes to superhero movies that come out trying to convince me all the reasons why they’re awesome and should be adored by the masses. I’ve only ever seen The Amazing Spiderman from 2012 and was nonplussed. I was, however, sold when I watched Spiderman Homecoming 2017. Nonetheless, I figured, we all know the story; we don’t need to see another movie about Spiderman.
Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse was released at the end of 2018 and I have only just seen the movie hours ago before writing this review. The themes in the story were pretty generic, including sacrificing yourself to save others and of course, anybody can wear the mask, or be their own hero. The movie is very aware that there have been countless predecessors before it and makes fun of it. The movie follows Miles attempting to come to terms with his new powers and try help his new spider-crew get back home to their own dimensions before they disintegrate.
The Spider-crew consist of different versions of Spiderman such as Gwanda, a Looney Toons style Peter Porker, Noire Parker from the world of 1960s noire movies, Japanese Spiderman with a not so Japanese accent and of course the Peter B Parker with brown hair and who has let himself go physique wise. They all have been suctioned onto Mile’s universe because Kingpin, the villain of the movie, is attempting to access the alternative universes.The animation in this movie is outstanding. I have watched a lot of animated features and I have an unfortunate habit of seeing animation errors all over town. The plot of this movie is a little generic and has been seen before. What does set this movie apart from every other Spiderman movie out there is the animation style and graphic design of this feature film.
I did notice instantaneously the various callbacks to the live action Spiderman films from the past. One of them being Parker’s leap of faith from one building to another when he was testing out his new skills and doing his finger gun skills from Spiderman (2007). Miles rightly wusses out and runs back down the stairs. More accurate depictions of previous installments include stopping a train in Spiderman 2 (2004) and a similar version of the ferry split scene from Homecoming (2017).
The movie has a 1960s comic book pop art vibe about it. If you look closely at the sequences playing on screen, you can see the distinct dots you would normally find in old school comics. The shading and the wind accents (motion stripes drawn on to indicate a fist punch or dropping an object) and even the distinct yellow square thought bubbles are there. It feels like the comics have come to life and are now a graphic motion picture.The jerky animation due to lowering the frame rate is a callback to the 1960s animation of Spiderman. Interestingly Peni Parker, the Japanese Spiderman is animated even less so, to match how Japanese animations are done. There are tiny little animation details you will miss after the first viewing which is why you must go back to watch it again. Spider Ham, the pig, is hand drawn and looks distinctly from the world of the Looney Toons 2D world.
The sound effects in this movie are written as they would be on the comics. One sequence even uses the word bagel when a bagel hits someone. These thought bubbles and words appear on screen much like the comics as the characters flail around on screen, solidify the feel of it being a 1960s comic book come to life.
Spider-Ham, the pig, could easily have been made into an incredibly annoying sidekick everyone wanted dead. I am pleased to say the writers never went down this route. I did enjoy several call backs to the Looney Toons franchise with Pig’s arm extension animation when he raises his hand for a handshake, using an anvil to take out an enemy (a favorite from that universe), the cartoony sound bites that you hear when Pig moves around and finally, saying farewell with That’s All Folks, a distinct trademark from Looney Toons.
The Japanese version of Spiderman needed a lot more screen time. I felt it would have been clever if the writers made throwbacks to Sailor Moon or even Yu-Gi-Oh! The Japanese manga look of her appearance was spot on, complete with a school uniform, but I felt that was the only thing that made her Japanese. I felt she needed a Japanese accent, or better, didn’t speak English. The other characters including brunette Peter B Parker, Gwen the female Spiderwoman and Noire Spiderman (Donned with a coat indefinitely swaying in the wind) didn’t have much of a distinct flavor to them. These three felt the same but with a different skin to me. With so much going on in this movie, it IS easy to let this issue slide, as we are mostly too enamored with the gorgeous animations to care.
The themes and the story of the movie are easily drowned out by the cool graphics and cut scenes this movie showcases. I may have missed a lot of references to past Spiderman movie and comic call backs, but I still enjoyed the movie as someone who has only seen two other Spiderman movies. This tells me that the creators of this movie have done a great job appealing to the casual or non-Spiderman consumer.
The comedic timing is spot on, the characters are hilarious and the art is out of this world. The overarching plot may have needed some work but with the other key components of the movie, it is very easy to overlook. If you are like me and only want to watch one or two movies about superheroes every once in a while, make this the next one. It has something for everybody and I will be watching this again just for the Easter eggs.
- Art Style and Animation is Excellent
- Funny Quips and Jokes
- Numerous Easter Eggs All Over Town
- Appealing to the Casual Spiderman Consumer
- Plot feels tired in parts
- Some Characters Underdeveloped