Saturday, 15 December 2018

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018) - Movie Review doesn’t look like any other Spider-Man film. Hell, this doesn’t look like any other comic book movie. The reason why, though, is kind of strange: It actually looks like a comic book. Bent around the frame of Sony Animation at its high-energy, thought bubbles, onomatopoeic sound effects, even half-tone dots that show in a lot of older comic strips populate the landscape, giving this a tangible connection to the medium that birthed it.

But that’s at its most sedate, and it's here where things start getting really interesting. As the first real mainstream cinematic example we’ve gotten of the age-old staple of sequential art, the multiverse, this film goes for quite possibly the best representation of that possible: It taps into the inherently mind-bending fundamentals of the idea of alternate realities and lathers the frame with it. Throughout the film, it looks like an old-school red-blue anaglyph 3D filter and neon-tastic vaporwave colours had the glitchiest orgy of all time, and when it gets chaotic, it's like Jimmy Screamerclauz on a proper budget directing the Stargate sequence from 2001, creating a psychedelic rush of an action flick.

But that visual aesthetic only serves as the vehicle for what the Spider-Man mythos has been in dire need of for decades: Variety. Both on the big screen and on the printed page, creators almost seem scared of letting Peter Parker be anything other than a high-school webslinger, with any major variation beyond that (graduating, getting married, having kids) getting retconned in record time. If you think going from Tobey Maguire to Andrew Garfield to Tom Holland in such a relatively short time was a head spin, just imagine what it’s been like reading Spider-Man for any extended length of time.

Here, variety is the name of the game. Once again delving into the Ultimate Marvel side of the comic book canon, we get not only a fresh depiction of Spider-Man in Miles Morales, we also get various different takes on the classic friendly neighbourhood crime-fighter. And no, I’m not just talking about the other parallel universe dwellers that show up, like Gwen Stacy as Spider-Woman, the Looney Tunes antics of Peter Porker, Spider-Ham, or even Nicholas goddamn Cage (holy shit, this has been a good year for him) as Spider-Man Noir.

No, I’m talking about the iterations of Peter Parker himself that we get, showing him at two different life stages, neither of which have him as a teenager. We’ve seen teenaged Peter Parker many times by now, and the filmmakers know it. So instead of giving us more of the same-old, they blow open Pandora’s Box and give a peek at a much larger multiverse.

But the true intentions behind this go far beyond just this film’s relations to past media, even down to making fun of the now-legendary Emo Peter Dance and a very meme-y post-credits scene. Instead, all of these different faces that bear the iconic webbing of the Spider tie back into the reason why the late, great Stan Lee created Spider-Man in the first place: He wanted to give the teenaged comic-buying audience someone to identify with. A character who went all of the familiar gripes involving life, love and tentacle-spouting mad scientists, and who had a carefree personality that tied into the utter freedom of being able to web-swing through the city like a goddamn superhero.

And with the revelation that there is more than one Spider-Man out there, even getting into genuinely depressing and heart-breaking territory to get that point across, it creates a sense of community that even Marvel’s best to date has been unable to latch onto: We are all superheroes. We have the ability to do good, to help our fellow man, to be the person that others can rely on to get shit done. We may have our own problems, we may face hardship, hell, we may even get beat down. But we can still raise our heads up again and keep moving.

This is a pretty damn cool notion for a superhero flick, especially when attached to such a beloved and well-known character like Spider-Man, and it dodges feeling like pandering or just plain try-hard by the fact that, through the various shades of Spider we get on-screen, we see just how much room there is for all kinds of different heroes.

Sony, on the off-chance that you are reading this, I would just like to end this review for a few words for you: This is what you need right now. I know that you’ve been itching to create your own cinematic comic book universe, and quite frankly, not even Iron Man was as good a first step as this could potentially be. Leave Venom the hell alone, and focus on this, because it could very well be one of the best decisions you have made as a company in a very, very long time.

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