Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is a teenage Spider-Man fan, trying to fit in with his new school. Developing an awkward crush on new girl “Gwanda”, he asks his uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali) for advice. The two later venture into the subway looking for an ideal graffiti location. Dangling in-between the bright spray-can colours of the rafters, Miles’s genetically modified destiny spins down towards him with eight legs…
‘Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse’ discards cinematic convention as if it were yesterday’s webbing…
Over the years Spider-Man as a character has split off into many incarnations. With his full-length suit he could be anybody underneath. So, whilst millionaire Bruce Wayne saves Gotham and undefeatable Superman still wears underpants, Spider-Man has emerged as the first truly proletarian superhero. He lives in New York (a real place), has real-life issues (school and growing up) and (most importantly) he makes mistakes. Lots of mistakes.
Armed with so many identifiable traits and inspiring so many upcoming generation of artists, Spider-Man has inevitably become the Dr. Who of superheroes. Regenerating into a dozen different personas such is the flood of material being written about him, that Spider-Man now spans multiple comic imprints, carving out new fanbases way beyond the Stan Lee’s original.
And that’s all good until it comes to Hollywood.
With a industry so inextricably wedded to the concept of sequels and interlocking franchises, these multiple incarnations, with all their contrasting interpretations are never going to fly – until now. The key? Let go of the pre-occupation of ‘live action’ remakes and take it back to the fantastical, elasticity of a comic book page.
Conceived more as a graphic novel than a movie, ‘Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse’ discards cinematic convention as if it were yesterday’s webbing. Blending each of Spider-Man’s alternate personas into a multiverse where they can all exist, this is a movie where everybody’s favourite Spider-Man gets to jump across dimensions with logical abandon. Instead of trying to reconcile each character into one narrative, this is a movie which embraces each iteration of Spider-Man to create a better whole. Add to this, an over-flowing irreverence that punctures both Spider-Man’s past merchandising and former syndications and you have a fourth-wall-blasting satire of comics in general. The result? A shameless fan fest that swings across the dashed hopes and expectations of its live-action movies and gives audiences back the kernel of its true appeal – the look and feel of a comic book.
Focussing mainly on the most important and iconic of Spider-Man’s later iterations, ‘Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse’ is about Mile Morales. Teenage son to an African American father and Puerto Rican mother, Miles is a refreshingly modern take on the character whose has his own dilemmas to solve. Even more grounded in the reality that makes for Spider-Man’s greatest attraction, Miles’s quest is as much internal as external.
Framed inside each vividly-hued frame, this is an origin story that bursts with originality from every frame. Rendered in a deliberate hand-drawn style, the shading and textures look 3D without the need for glasses. Even though clearly designed and conceived for 3D presentation, believe me glasses aren’t necessary unless you want to pay extra. Couple this with an across-the-board strong acting ensemble (in particular Brian Tyree Henry as Jefferson Davis – Mile’s police officer father in affectionate yet overbearing form) and you have everything a classic animation requires.
This is not Disney. This is not Dreamworks. This is an different kind of animated feature that understands its own identity whilst showing you several of Spider-Man’s other ones.
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