“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” may be the new gold standard for both animated films and superhero movies. Since its Dec. 15 release date, “Spider-Man” has earned a 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and recently won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film. While most other superhero movies follow the same basic plot and seem to just set up for the sequel, “Spider-Man” is a thrilling new take on a classic hero with plenty of substance to stand on its own.
The film wastes no time rehashing Spider-man’s origin story and jumps straight into the story’s new universe (or Spider-Verse). The animation is stunning, mixing modern 3D techniques (every hair on each character’s head is visible) with retro comic book influences. Actions sequences are frequently split into panels, giving the effect of a comic book come to life. Vibrant colors and dynamic backdrops make Spider-man’s world more fantastic and inviting than ever before.The soundtrack is well thought out, and each song isn’t simply played in the background but rather is woven into the scenes.
Voice-acting novice Shameik Moore gives a convincing and sympathetic performance as teenage protagonist Miles Morales, a new character to the Marvel cinematic universe (but a comic book favorite). Jake Johnson (from Fox’s “New Girl”) plays a divorced, anti-hero Peter Parker, an interesting departure from previous clean-cut, nerdy Spider-Man portrayals by Tobey Maguire and Tom Holland. Even beloved Spider-Man villain Doctor Octopus (Doc Ock) has a makeover in the new Spider-Verse.
While “Spider-Man” has many genuinely heart-wrenching moments packed into two hours, it also contains plenty of laughs and well-timed jokes typical of Marvel movies. Comedian John Mulaney’s “Spider-Ham” (an alternate pig version of Spider-Man) had the audience in hysterics during his brief appearances. There is also plenty of self-referential and witty humor that punches up the film but doesn’t distract from the serious moments.
Despite being a PG-rated movie, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is not just for kids and has plenty of appeal for young adults as well. The film is probably more interesting for college students than other recent animated films such as “The Incredibles 2” and “The Grinch,” with a punchy hit by Post Malone (“Sunflower”) coupled with an uplifting message about finding your own path.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is playing in theaters. Given the mind-blowing animation, it might even be worth it to see it in 3D. Viewers should make sure to stick around for the artistic and trippy credit sequence and the signature post-credits teaser scene.