“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is Attention Grabbing and Entertaining
By Liz Lopez
If you think you have seen one too many Spider-Man films already; don’t throw in the towel (or throw one away if you have one from yesteryear), as it seems this character is here to stay after more than 50 years, and now in brightly colored animation. The young teen from New York still exists in this screenplay by Rodney Rothman and Phil Lord (“22 Jump Street”), living with the confusion and responsibility that comes with being a superhero, as well as facing villains from who knows where. The huge difference in this Spider – Man story is that this Spider – Man is named Miles Morales (Shameik Moore, “Dope”) and is from Brooklyn. He just transferred to a boarding school away from the neighborhood at the “request” of his parents, Rio Morales (Luna Lauren Velez), his mother who works as a nurse and his police officer father, Jefferson Davis (Brian Tyree Henry). Although the family composition and heritage may be different from other stories we have seen for over five decades that Spider – Man has existed, it does not change the fact that he is a capable superhero. Once we see the multiple characters from the “other” dimensions, we see the various shapes, size and shades of Spider – Man all on one screen that is representative of so many everyday people. The other plus about this production is the animation and the vibrant colors as seen in the street-art, and all that is bright and striking about the streets, subways, apartments and schools of Brooklyn/New York, as well as ensuring the artists have utilized a myriad of shades and hues for the humans who inhabit the city. Fans of vintage comic books may feel like all they imagined from reading in the past has now come to life in front of them.
The story is clever and just complicated enough to make you keep your eyes glued to the screen, regardless of any distraction in the theater. The writers ensure we care about what Miles is going through and the pains of adolescence. It is written to please Marvel fans of the superhero, as well as any new younger audiences. The youngest fans may not understand the story concept of the other worlds, universes or dimensions, but the various characters and the bright colors will certainly be appealing to them.
Along with the bold visuals, the film has a hip-hop score featuring many well known artists. Among the artists on the soundtrack are Post Malone and Swae Lee (“Sunflower”); Blackway and Black Caviar (“What’s Up Danger”); Nicki Minaj’s “Familia” with Aneul AA and featuring Bantu; Lil Wayne and Ty Dolla (“Scared of the Dark”), as well as a surprise posthumous appearance by XXXTentacion.
As we are introduced to Miles, he is now at the new school. He has some reservations about the change and seeks out his Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali). Knowing that Miles is a street artist; Aaron takes him to a place special to him for various reasons. It is there the radioactive spider appears. It is not long before there are signs of the side effects he experiences, making him feel more humiliated and anxious than he already is. I love the one scene when his father drops him off at school in the squad car. It is priceless and I won’t provide a spoiler here.
Slowly, Miles begins to see what he is capable of doing and starts to meet others like him after we see the mobster character, Kingpin Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber), with a space-time portal that he plans to destroy the world with. The portal has let other Spider – Man versions come through. There is a Peter Parker (Chris Pine) and an older, out of shape Peter B. Parker, voiced by Jake Johnson (hilarious). Add to them, Gwen Stacey, aka Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld); an anime heroine named Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) with a robot spider; a black-and-white film noir Spider-Man (Nicolas Cage); and Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham (John Mulaney). It is not long after they discover each other that Miles and company have to bring their individual talents and work as a team.
There has to be an Aunt May (Lily Tomlin), and the screenwriters have made her smart and tough. Making an animated cameo is the late Stan Lee, as the storekeeper who sells Miles his first Spider – Man costume. It was a joy to see Stan make his usual cameo.
When I looked up the list of the voice cast, I was amazed to see the many actors that lent their voices to the production, including Oscar Isaac, Zoe Kravitz, Natalie Morales, Joaquin Cosio, Post Malone, Kathryn Hahn, and many additional voices.
Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman directed this animation, action, adventure, comedy, family and Sci-Fi fun film where just about anybody can be Spider-Man — from past, present and future generations.
The film is rated PG with a run time of one hour and 57 minutes and arrives in theaters nationwide on Friday, December 14th
Source: Sony Pictures Animation