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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Review

// Reviews (Film)

My name is Nathan and until today, I thought I was the only animation writer on the internet. But then, when a mysterious portal opened up, it took me to a weird place called Skwigly Magazine where I found out I wasn’t alone and there were tons of people writing about animation! I’ll let you figure out who the Skwigly substitute of Spider-Ham is.

But if that premise sounds interesting to you, then strap in because that’s the premise of Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse. Being our fourth cinematic Spider-man, you’d be fair to have concerns of Spider-fatigue that we are having to deal with yet ANOTHER origin story of New York’s web-slinger. With a starring role in Marvel’s Infinity War and Insomniac’s new game, it’s been a packed year for Spider-man already. So, where does this new adaptation rank? Well, I’m glad to say, very very high!

Spider-Verse is most definitely the most unique, original, interesting take of the hero’s story so far. In under 2 hours, this film manages to deliver stylish, distinctive animation, alongside a lot of heart. This is the first on-screen portrayal of Miles Morales. A talented, 13-year old street artist who (yes, you guessed it) is bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes the one and only Spider-man! At least, that’s what he thought. But after Kingpin aka Wilson Fisk opens up a portal that transports multiple Spider-people into Miles’ dimension, this Spider-Squad must find a way to get back to their home.

Whilst you may think, what’s so special about bringing multiple spider-people to the screen? Is that not a bit chaotic to watch? you’d actually be surprised. I was amazed at how fleshed out and developed each character was and how they each had their own personality with a different message and goal. And, what’s even better is that not just the heroes but the villains also! It’s an amazing achievement to not just introduce us to these new characters and set them up really well but also, to see how they have interpreted old characters set up in different universes and taken them even further.

Spider-man manages to stand out in a current trend of looking to past properties and looking back. The thought process behind looking to the past is what makes the animation in this film great. There is a clear love and appreciation for the Golden and Silver Age of comic books. The filmmakers have created cinematic counterparts to the mangled, slashed up layouts of the 60s. It reminds me of when filmmakers like Richard Fleischer and Norman Jewison would toy with split screen. But whilst those filmmakers toyed with it, these filmmakers flip it on its head entirely.  The movie is jam-packed with abstract outbreaks of colour, glitchy moments, squiggly lines,  and some rule-breaking asymmetrical compositions in startling arrangements to make us feel as if we’ve been transported back to a wonderful time. Just take a look at the clip below, a real standout moment from the film. There’s so much going on in one small scene. The intensity it holds is gorgeous and breathtaking.

The Spider-man we are used to seeing is usually a geeky, awkward outsider, so it was really refreshing to see how Shameik Moore took on the character and made him his own. Phil Lord (yes, THAT Phil Lord) and Rodney Rothman have set out a clear goal to make this Spider-man a much more down-to-earth Spider-man who is not only more relatable but also is no longer the outsider, but a joiner. This Spider-man jumps at the opportunity to join this Spider-gang but, alas, the one time he wishes to join a team, he isn’t ready and so we go on this journey with him training how to be Spider-man which is a whole adventure in itself.

The film is a composition masterclass. I’m sure people will be talking about this film and looking at it for years to come. The film has such a strong style about it. The effects in this film are incredible. They pay homage not just to the comic books that inspired them but to such a massive variety of influences. Outside of short films, I’ve never seen this comic book style demonstrated with such impact. The filmmakers pull every visual trick in the book to show intensity and suspense and it all comes together perfectly. Just like in its influences, all actions are accompanied with a “Kapow!” or “Whoosh!”, although my personal favourite goes to “Bagel!” as it hits  As for characters such as Spider-Ham, the animators have looked back at classic Rubber Hose animation with multiple references to classic cartoons such as Looney Tunes throughout the film. The bubbly, anime-style Peni Parker also joins the crew which blends in seamlessly with the film’s other anime influences clearly taking form. A few Ghost in the Shell references were picked up on.

It is messy, in the best way, stylish, fun and confident. I have absolutely no doubts that this would be universally loved by adults and children alike so if you haven’t already seen it – go before it’s too late!

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@lewisheriz
Lewis Heriz
@themooks @skwigly Yeah! That's when it becomes << actual magic >>
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@themooks
James Howard
@lewisheriz @skwigly That first time you see it move is such a buzz and then you add sound and it just enters a whole new stratosphere.
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@lewisheriz
Lewis Heriz
@themooks @skwigly I know it's kind of obvious, but I used to see it as 'important but secondary'. I don't see it as secondary any more.
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@themooks
James Howard
@lewisheriz @skwigly Sound does bring it to life.
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