While the idea of standalone animated Spider-Man sounds like a cynical attempt to cash in on Peter Parker joining Marvel's Cinematic Universe, the end result is a spectacular, joyous love letter to Spider-Man, in all his/her/it's forms.
Ostensibly a retelling of the superhero origin of Miles Morales, one of the Spider-Men from Marvel's Ultimate line of comics who managed to survive the death of that series, Into the Spider-Verse splices his origin story with the tale of a gang of ‘Spider-persons’ from alternate dimensions who need to team up to keep the Kingpin (Schreiber) from destroying the world. That may sound like standard superhero fare, however every molecule of the film has been infused with passion, style, humour, and emotion that elevates it above what's gone before, even above some of the adventures in the MCU!
Visually striking, the cel-shaded character design and Roy Lichtenstein-style printing dots littering the backgrounds mimic its comic books roots beautifully, but even visuals this sumptuous fall away as the flourishes in storytelling and action come to the fore.
Once he gets his powers Miles (Moore) teams up with the jaded Peter B. Parker (Johnson) , a much older Spider-Man who, along with Miles' father Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry) and Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), forms Miles's key relationships of the film.
Like apparently everyone involved in this production, these voice actors bring their A-game. However, singling out these roles above Hailee Steinfeld's fantastic Spider-Gwen, Nic Cage's instantly iconic Spider-Man Noir or any of the cast, feels unfair when every role is this good, even those small roles with big name actors (stay after the credits!)
The plot that brings these characters together is a real rollercoaster. Regularly funny, often touching, and, most importantly, exciting. For those of you sick of origin stories, Spider-Verse features not one, but seven origin stories but the way they are handled will bring a smile to the face of the most cynical ‘superhero fatigue’ victim.
It's not all sunshine and rainbows, however. The core tale, Miles's story, is unique in this version, in that he's not alone as comes into his Spider-powers. Unlike Peter, Spider-Gwen or the others, he has help, even if he can't truly become Spider-Man until he can do it all on his own. It's yet another smart variation on a well-worn facet of the character, his isolation from those around him.
All of this is before you get to the sharp variations on classic villains, Lily Tomlin's Aunt May, Spider-Ham, the menacing elephantine, hip hop roar that accompanies the Prowler whenever the villain appears, Liev Schreiber's ‘Noo Yawk’ accent as the Kingpin and multiple universes worth of comic book references and Easter eggs like inter-dimensional Kirby dots, a universe where Miller and Lord's own Clone High got a sequel in Clone College, and even THAT dance from Spider-Man 3, the film is packed full of treats for almost every Spider-fan.
Not just an incredibly confident, entertaining animated Spidey film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is up there as one of the best, if not the best, Spider-Man film, period.
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE / CERT:PG / DIRECTOR: BOB PERSICHETTI, PETER RAMSEY, RODNEY ROTHMAN / SCREENPLAY: PHIL LORD, RODNEY ROTHMAN / STARRING: SHAMEIK MOORE, HAILEE STEINFELD, JAKE JOHNSON, NICOLAS CAGE, JOHN MULANEY, KIMIKO GLENN, KATHRYN HAHN, LIEV SCHREIBER, LILY TOMLIN / RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 12TH
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10