If you are bored of superheroes, this is the film for you. If you aren't, you'll love it even more.
Over the years, we’ve seen the character of Spider-Man take many forms. However, Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman’s new animated iteration, focusing on a young alternative Spider-Man named Miles Morales, brings a completely fresh tone to what could have been an oversaturated franchise. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse follows Miles as he navigates life as a teenager in New York City as well as dealing with his new role as Spider-Man. As the plot develops, a series of events reveal that he may not be alone in that role after all, as Spider-heroes from all over the universe begin to appear. Themes of family and friendship are at the forefront, but don’t mistake this for a kids film, as although it is child friendly, Into the Spider-Verse has many more levels than a basic family friendly cartoon.
Featuring voice work from Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld and Zoe Kravitz, with cameos from numerous others (including a bittersweet Stan Lee appearance), the characters all bring their own humour to the film, with no individual fading into the background whilst the film keeps up a lively pace. This is mostly down to Phil Lord’s witty screenplay, who, in a cinematic world of over-complicated jargon and ever growing running times manages to turn a narrative based on physics into an action-packed comedy fun-fest with an underlying sense of emotional gravity that doesn’t leave us googling what actually happens when we leave the cinema. Instead, we’re laughing out loud and rooting for the heroes, who are very much grounded in reality, and in fact are so self-aware that we feel as if they are enjoying the ride alongside us.
The animation style is both new and familiar, including comic book style panelling, text boxes and special effects, but also characterised by a realism that draws us into the world; New York City appears more real than it has in numerous recent films of a similar genre. So colourful and so detailed, dripping in neon and rainbow saturation, the film really lends itself to the big screen, something which sets it apart from many animations in recent years. It provides a breath of fresh air for Marvel fans (and non-fans alike) who may be struggling to maintain interest in the current phase of gloomy heroes being relentlessly thrown at cinemas demanding our attention, and with its diversity both in character and culture, there is something in Into the Spider-Verse for every type of audience to relate to.
One of the stand out elements of the film is the soundtrack. With the trend of modern artist contributing to film track lists nowadays, there runs a risk of over-commercialisation with filmmakers clearly aiming for radio plays rather than being concerned with whether the tracks actually fit the film. However, Into the Spider-Verse is a perfect example of how pop-scoring should be done, its hip-hop soundtrack superbly representing the Miles and his personality as well as the world in which he exists and providing the audience with another point of connection.
This film has everything one could want from a Spider-Man film and a few more surprises we never knew we needed. Into the Spider-Verse is so aware of the tired connotations animated film and superheroes have nowadays it almost challenges us not to love it, with its daring confidence leaving us no room to ever doubt it.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman, is distributed in the UK via Sony Pictures Releasing, certificate PG.