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|Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse|
dir Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
scr Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman
prd Avi Arad, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Amy Pascal, Christina Steinberg
voices Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Mahershala Ali, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber, Lily Tomlin, Nicolas Cage, Zoe Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Luna Lauren Velez
release US/UK 14.Dec.18
18/US Sony 1h57
Spider-sense times three: Peter, Gwen and Miles
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
There's a refreshing blast of originality rushing through this snarky, deftly animated feature, keeping the audience dazzled at both the imagery and story. Infused with a meta Deadpool-esque attitude, the film whizzes through its plot with energy and wit, avoiding most of the usual superhero pitfalls by acknowledging and then sidestepping them. It also looks like nothing else.
Miles (Moore) is a Brooklyn teen embarrassed by his nice-guy cop dad (Henry) and impressed by his cool graffiti-spraying uncle (Ali). After being bitten by an odd spider, he witnesses a showdown between Spider-man (Johnson) and Kingpin (Schreiber) that creates an inter-dimensional rift and ends with Spider-man's death. Then five parallel-universe Spideys come through: another Peter Parker (also Johnson), teenage Gwen (Steinfeld), a black-and-white private eye (Cage), anime girl (Glenn) and a cartoon pig (Mulaney). As they begin to glitch, Miles needs to get to grips with his powers so he can save, well, everything.
The script rockets through comedy scenes, dramatic moments and eye-popping action, pausing just enough to add edge to each character, which helps the audience identify strongly with them. Visually, the screen looks almost like a 3D movie watched without glasses, as everything has unexpected textures and shadows. It's like particularly tasty eye-candy, with continual surprises including increasingly spectacular action. So the big climax is both jaw-dropping and emotionally resonant.
Characters are skilfully animated and voiced, which makes them playful and surprising, expressing both feelings and an infectious excitement at the thrills. Spidey-swinging through the Manhattan streets has never been this exhilarating. And by opening with a death, there's a sense of menace that most superhero films never muster. There are also terrific side characters for the gifted vocalists across the board, including the fabulous Tomlin (as Aunt May) and Hahn (as Doc Ock).
That said, the script isn't terribly deep. While Kingpin has darkly personal reasons for his nefarious plan, he's still unwaveringly brutal. And while Miles has a lot of difficulty coming to grips with his own unique abilities, his sudden mastery of it all kind of undermines the nice "take a leap of faith" message that infuses the narrative. That said, this is a rare blockbuster that genuinely gets the adrenaline pumping, and it skilfully avoids Marvel's usual grey gloom to create something far more inventive.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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