Into the Spider-Verse: Bringing fresh legs to Spider-Man movies

by Russell Baillie / 15 January, 2019
RelatedArticlesModule - Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse movie review

Animated irreverence creates a thrilling, funny and stirring movie that feels as if it’s taking place inside a comic book.

Every Marvel Comic character movie starts with a trademark opening title of flickering pages before the action starts and, increasingly, the boredom and déjà vu begin.

But after its obligatory nod to the source, Spider-Verse doesn’t then give us the usual masked movie stars making computer-generated mayhem. It’s animated, spectacularly so, creating a thrilling, funny and stirring movie that feels as if it’s taking place inside a comic book.

It has much fun sending up the previous infinite loop of films about Peter Parker, teenage superhero. But it also celebrates Spider-Man’s enduring appeal as the everykid taking on the big bad world with his new-found arachnid abilities.

It is crowded, but happily so, with a diverse squad of five spider-folk, drawn through parallel universes via a Hadron Collider-like device, who come up against multiple villains. The new Spidey from this world is Miles Morales, a bright Brooklyn high schooler, who first appeared in the comics in 2011. Here, he finds he’s just the new kid on a block alongside a gone-to-seed Peter B Parker, an assured Spider-Woman, a retro-fitted Spider-Man Noir (voiced hilariously by Nicolas Cage), a Japanese robotics whiz-kid Peni Parker, and the Looney Toons-inspired Spider-Ham (aka Peter Porker).

It’s produced by Phil Lord (who co-wrote) and Christopher Miller, who set the bar for franchise irreverence with their Lego and Jump Street films before falling out with Disney on the Han Solo movie. On this one, they’ve delivered the best superhero film in an age. Save for an overlong psychedelic finale, it’s amazing. It suggests a further Spider-Verse spin-off is an idea that’s got legs.

IN CINEMAS NOW

★★★★

Video: Sony Pictures Entertainment

This article was first published in the January 19, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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