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Webs all the way down

February 3, 2019

This is a bit delayed now, but I saw Into the Spider-Verse a couple of weeks ago!  Capsule review (and potential spoilers!) ahead…

I enjoyed this movie a lot.  It takes its quirky premise and just runs with it… and I really like (and respect) that kind of thing.  It is also delightfully stylistic, boasting an animation style that is part CG and part halftone-comic that lends the whole affair a nice visual flair while helping set a great tone/mood for what’s on screen.  Lots of the comic book trappings work well, such as the multiple origin stories repeated near-verbatim edging more and more towards the absurd (yet fortunately played for amusement and never in dumb parody).  I also appreciated the local scale to it all; while the villainous plot could see the destruction of the world that’s not its intent, and the action and stakes still retains a feel of “friendly neighborhood”.

As for the villain himself, while they are not explored too deeply they nonetheless are a villain with a motivation that has some emotional oomph behind it (and his plot/intentions isn’t actually antagonistic against the world in a get rich/takeover/power/etc usual kind of way – that he’s causing villainous destruction is more of a side effect, which is also unusual and cool).

I also greatly applaud the multiplicity of the various spider-folk (and how it’s spawned the online meme for people from all over drawing/imagining themselves as their spider-self).  I liked that they have Miles dealing with the emotional trauma laid out before him from various directions – a kid becoming a super hero… would kind of mess you up, you know?  Overall the pace is good, the humour well placed and not overplayed, and the writing snappy.  MJ was awesome!  And the Stan Lee cameo ended up being highly poignant, with dialogue they couldn’t possibly have known would land the way it did given his passing away.

On the flipside, there’s a number of story beat clichés that I wish they’d tossed out or reworked, and a number of the fight scenes – especially the big last one – fell flat for me, overdone and overblown (and at least one case of accidental/humorous victory that robbed the characters of agency).  My biggest wish is that I would love to have seen Miles growing and gaining strength and evolving into the role of being a Spiderman beyond the well-trod path of “gaining confidence” and “believing in yourself” in the most perfunctory way.  There was a chance there to do more, and they didn’t.

The capsule verdict:  I give this a solid plus.  On the whole it works well, rocks, and is a nice and diverse breath of fresh air.  Well worth seeing.

(And it really makes me want to see and know what Lord & Miller had cooked up for Solo before they got fired – if it was anything even half as unique, it could have been mighty fine indeed rather than the piece of bantha poodoo we got instead)

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