Film Review: Spiderman Into the Spider-Verse

Still from Spiderman into the spider-verse

The latest in the ever-popular Spiderman franchise.

Hallelujah to screenwriter Phil Lord and his merry bunch of filmmakers!

2018 has thankfully gifted us a kid’s holiday film that doesn’t leave the rest of us in a saccharine coma for two hours, unlike the expected annual overdose of mum’s Christmas pudding dolloped with too much brandy butter.

Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse is good, really good. Surprisingly, really good!  I want you to think: the clever wit of Toy Story meets the best of any of Marvel comic adventure.

I like cartoons for the basest of reasons; characters can do things that would be impossible for the most agile of Hollywood stuntmen. Also, even when they are fantasy creations like Buggs Bunny or Spider Ham (yeah, a Spiderpig makes an appearance in this movie) animations are always sassy and full of bright promise. On the rare occasion that a character portrays exhaustion it tends to be funny, unlike in real life where it just feels…well, exhausting. This film does not disappoint on any of those fronts.

Spiderman – Into the Spider Verse centres on talented school student Miles Morales, who you’ve guessed it gets bitten by a radioactive spider. From there we are taken on a wild ride as he learns the spidey ropes and ultimately saves our universe from imploding on itself because of the whim of one rich and powerful wackjob.

This movie ticks all the subliminal inclusivity boxes that reflect the diversity of our modern society, but rarely shows up in mainstream film… or parliaments. Miles lives in Brooklyn with his Spanish mother and African-American father, both who are hardworking parents in the emergency services fields. He is a sensitive and artistic kid, who has just moved to a new academic selective school, where he boards during the week and is trying to find his way.

The sharp learning curve, awkwardness and humour of being a teenager are expertly unpackaged in this film. Universal relationship tropes are incorporated. Our fear of being different to everyone else, our wanting to be liked, the as–you-get-older stilted parental interactions, the handling of life’s disappointments and betrayals, and lastly, the importance of self-esteem to being a successful functioning person are all used as connectors for the audience to tap into and fill up with their own uncertainties or memories, depending on age.  But don’t worry; the film is not preachy. Instead it is so nuanced and wrapped in love and kick butt action hero stuff that it just feels downright awesome.

While the 3 directors it took to make this film (Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rotham) do maintain the expected “Save the Word” ending; it is not without a few unexpected twists before you reach the inevitable good destroys evil closure. My own viewing included an impromptu serenade when the packed theatre was interrupted by a young viewer’s small voice clearly singing out into the popcorn laced darkness “Spider man, Spider man…does whatever a spider can…” It just doesn’t get any better than this!

Check out the official website here.

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