- Animation: GORGEOUS
- Music: EPIC
- Acting: FLAWLESS
- In theatre, during one big action scene, two lines of insignificant banter dialogue is a little bit garbled because the sound mixing favoured the music over the voices.
I’m sure you’ve noticed something different this time around. I posted my review summary at the TOP this time. Why did I do this?
Because I don’t want you to read this review. Not yet.
Seriously. See this movie.
Then you can come back and read this.
But if you have yet to see Sony Pictures Animation’s Spider-Man, then shoo! I don’t want you here. I want your butt in a movie theatre seat, enjoying the best damn Spider-Man film ever made (and potentially the best super hero film ever made)!
It’s ok. I’ll wait.
You see it?
WASN’T IT AMAZING!?! SPECTACULAR EVEN!?! MAYBE A LITTLE SENSATIONAL!?!
I, like many other critics, don’t believe in perfect movies but, for me, THIS is pretty damn close.
I have been a big Spidey-lover since I was very little. The first Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie is what made me want to conquer my fear of spiders. I haven’t entirely done that, yet, but it’s because of Spider-Man that I think they’re really cool. I even have a thorn-spider bracelet that I adore, and I know I wouldn’t have been able to stand having it near me if it wasn’t for that movie.
Seriously! I used to get soooo creeped out by them. I mean, I still don’t like finding them in my bed or crawling on me, but I don’t mind having a couple in the house to kill mosquitos for me in the summer.
AND my first ever comic book (and, for a long time, my ONLY comic book) was Spider-Girl vol. 1. I bought it at a book fair.
So, to finally see a film that just FEELS like Spider-Man, that has characters that move like how he moves in the comics and has the same level of wholesome humour and excitement and fun that I and many others equate with this iconic hero… Well, it warms my heart – as a fan of Spider-Man, as a fan of movies, as a fan of animation and music and art and so many things.
- Is it realistic? Does it work? Does it flow? Is it consistent to the character speaking? Does it serve a purpose beyond just exposition?
- Is there depth? If not, is there at least some level of intrigue?
- Does it make sense? Is it easy to follow the sequence of events? If there is no narrative, does the game’s basic sequence make sense?
- If there’s a point, is it made and is it made well?
- Is the music something I’d want to hear again?
- Does it suit the work? Enhance the experience? Or is it inappropriate and distracting?
- Does the actor succeed in making the character feel like a person?
- Does the actor succeed in making the character sympathetic and likeable? Or does the character succeed in making you hate them?
- Does the overall performance achieve what was intended?
- Is it well done? Does everything look and move right? Does the animation distract from the story being told?
- Character design
- Does it fit the film? Do they look good? Does the animation distract from the story being told?
- Set design
- Do the sets fit the film? If it’s a period piece, are they accurate? Are they well-balanced and pleasing to look at? Are there any easter eggs or bonus details that make you want to go back and watch the film more closely?
- If the film is going for a certain mood, atmosphere, or look, did the animators succeed in portraying it? Does the style drown out the story, or does it enhance it?
With these things in mind, on to the review!
Yes we’re skipping to this part. Because you’ve already seen the movie.
Honestly, I think this movie is damn near perfect. With everything, of course, there are a couple tiny critiques that Pinkie could come up with (I honestly can’t really think of anything I’d change about the movie), but overall I think this film is a fantastic success and a wonderful piece of art.
It’s beautiful, it’s meaningful, and it makes me feel things.
I honestly, truly believe it’s a film that everyone should see at least once. Even if you ended up hating it, I think this film and the people who made it deserve their hard work to be recognized by the movie-goers.
And if you do hate it, or there are parts of it you don’t like, then that’s ok. I’m not going to think you’re stupid or wrong. I will fully admit that, while this film worked for me in every possible way, it is a film that may not work for everyone. A lot happens in this film, and the animation style is really different and highly stylized. Some of the character designs can wig people out, or cause them not to take certain characters seriously. None of that matters to me.
What matters to me is that Lord and Miller and everyone at Sony Pictures Animation get what they deserve: a serious commendation. Y’all tried something weird and wacky and out there and, for better or worse, you made something really unique. I mean, you certainly can’t confuse this movie for any other animated flick out there, that’s for sure!
It’s awesome! It feels epic, it’s well-paced, it makes me care for all the characters (even the villains), and it made me laugh!
Lord and Miller have this incredible ability to take ideas that honest-to-God should not work and make something spectacular out of it. I mean, think about it. A tv show about a bunch of famous people being brought back to life through the miracle of cloning, and their adventures through their teen years. A mad scientist causing food to rain down on the populous. Legos – just Legos. And all are fan-freaking-tastic. And Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse is no exception.
I mean, who could have imagined that Sony could crank out a half-decent Spider-Man movie again after The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Let alone the best one ever.
The story itself was refreshingly different. I mean, yes, we still got an origin story (actually, we get seven), but since Miles is such a different person compared to Peter Parker, seeing his transition through the Spidering process is quite compelling. And everyone else’s quick-fire origins are just so fun and simple, I don’t know how you couldn’t enjoy them.
And even though the over-the-top plotline and the ridiculous amount of characters to juggle would make this film seem impossible to do without making at least some sections drag on, I honestly never felt like there was a dull moment.
Also, the jokes, man. The jokes! Every single one of them landed for me, whether it was a set-up-and-punchline kind of joke or just a cute, quick visual gag.
It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a movie that has consistently kept me glued to the screen and totally invested in everything going on at all times. And I’ve seen it twice!
I realize I’m really praising this film a lot, but I swear the second time I watched it I tried finding flaws or things that, upon critical review, I didn’t like or thought could have done better. I honestly couldn’t find a single thing.
I really don’t think they could have done a better job. Just fantastic!
- Dialogue – A+
- Development – A+
- Coherence – A+
- Conciseness – A+
I mean, it’s amazing! It’s definitely a soundtrack I need to add to my collection.
I love how it seamlessly blends the score with the pop songs, and how they seem to work together so perfectly! Like, I sometimes had trouble distinguishing when a proper song had begun, and when it was just Daniel Pemberton’s beautiful compositions.
And fuck yeah, Danny boy! I’ve loved this guy’s work ever since King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Part of why I love that movie, despite it being batshit insane, is because the music was just so fucking unique and emotional and powerful! I listen to that shit when I work out, when I write, and when I have to occasionally go out into the human world. And now I can add a new score of his to my collection! SQUEE!
One of my favourite songs in the whole film is the Prowler’s theme, specifically when Miles discovers that the terrifying Prowler is really his beloved Uncle Aaron. Holy shit. That song is PERFECTION. I mean, the squawking horror-movie sounds that accompany everyone’s favourite purple Spawn immediately sends chills down the spine, and when the strings and all the other normal-movie-score instruments chime in to squeal the pain and panic Miles is feeling at the discovery that the man he trusts and loves the most in his life is trying to kill him, and helped kill the one person who could have helped him with his new powers!? That whole piece sends chills all through me. I feel that song.
And most of the soundtrack is like this too! Based on the scene and the characters in it, the music will change tempo and style while still feeling like it’s all part of the same movie. It enhances the experience so much.
Even the inclusion of popular music is well done! Like I said earlier, it bleeds so well into the film’s real score that it’s hard to remember that it’s not all the same thing. And I love how it features many different, unique, and diverse artists. I saw that the description of the official movie soundtrack even celebrated this fact, saying that the idea to add a menagerie of different sounds by different artists was intentional, as it reflects the film and how it introduces a diverse cast of Spider-Men. I mean, you just have to appreciate their attention to detail.
One tiny thing (that might not even be a problem, once the film makes it to DVD), some of the sound mixing is a little off during the final fight, and it can be hard to hear dialogue over the music. Pinkie and I only noticed it with two lines, and they seemed like throw-away quips anyway so it’s not like you’re missing out on anything important because the music drowns them out.
- Memorability – A+
- Tone – A+
Again, it’s really REALLY good! The voice talent they got for this movie is phenomenal, especially with Mahershala Ali as Uncle Aaron. HOLY CRAP that man can act, and he was perfect as Miles’ cool and rebellious uncle.
Shameik Moore did an amazing job as Miles. I had no idea the voice actor for Miles was 23 years old – he really does sound like a 15-year-old kid! And Chris Pine and Jake Johnson as Peter Parker! They were great! I mean, I kind of expected Chris Pine to be good (hell, I didn’t even realize it was him!), but good on Jake Johnson! The last thing I saw him in was The Mummy… I’m glad to see he’s on to bigger and MUCH better things.
And holy fuck, Nick Cage. Boy. You, sir, astound me. How can someone be so shit and so spectacular at the same time? I mean, it’s been a while since I’ve heard of Cage in anything good, but I always like to see when he comes out to do some voice acting! He always does a great job, and his performance as Spider-Man Noire made that character my absolute favourite.
I would go on and call out every single actor and praise them forever, but everything I’ve already said pretty well applies to everyone. New talent, people I’ve never heard of or seen before, were extremely compelling and fun to be around. Well-known actors didn’t feel out of place, and their voices didn’t distract me at all or pull me out of the film. Most of the time I was shocked to discover they were even in it, like Chris Pine and Liev Schreiber. Like, Liev Schreiber was completely unrecognizable.
I just can’t praise the cast enough. It was all amazing!
- Realistic – A+
- Emotional – A+
- Effective – A+
I mean…come on. You’ve seen this movie. It’s fucking gorgeous.
I love that it looks kind of like stop-motion animation. I love that it looks like a comic book. I love that it blends CG and hand-drawn animation so fucking seamlessly. I love all the character designs. It’s just amazing.
And especially when it comes to character design, I want to address the villains specifically. I mean, Olivia Octavius is amazing. I’ve never been so creeped out by Doc Ock in my life. The fact that her tentacles are these rubber hoses instead of these gargantuan metallic monstrosities actually makes her freakier than the regular Doc Ock design. She legitimately moves like an octopus now and it’s pretty freaky.
Ultimate Green Goblin is cool. I mean, he’s basically a dragon. And I really appreciate the whole purple Spawn thing that Prowler has going on. He looks awesome.
One criticism I have heard of the movie is the design of Kingpin, and I’d like to address that now. I like his design. Not only do I think he’s been well designed, I think he’s been cleverly designed.
For one, his massive body and shoulders usually take up the entire screen whenever he’s around, especially during that final fight with Miles. This not only makes him imposing, it also makes him oppressive. The audience feels him intruding on the space, and it’s an effective visual tool to portray Kingpin’s power and threat levels.
Also, deciding to place his head squarely in the middle of his body actually achieves a few different things. Some people may think it looks silly, but I think it shows that the people who designed him have a good grasp on basic artistic theory.
I mean, making his head so much smaller than his body shows that he’s not exactly the most cerebral villain. He’s not stupid, but he definitely works with his physical strengths more than his mental ones (and this is backed up by his behaviour in the film, as he’s more than willing to get in on the violence instead of being some kind of highly manipulative puppet master).
Also, the stark contrast of his black suit with his pale skin means that the focus will always be on his face whenever he’s on screen – your eye will naturally gravitate towards it, so then we get to see Kingpin’s emotions and feelings more than you usually might with a villain. This works as an advantage to the film, as Kingpin’s villainous motivations are sympathetic at their core, so forcing the audience to humanize him by acknowledging his face helps to make us pity the villain as opposed to hating him.
And, if you’ll allow me to over-analyze a little here, placing his head so close to his heart (as it appears to be right in the middle of his chest sometimes), suggests that he’s a highly emotional person. Putting the brain so near the heart can be seen as a design decision to help reinforce the fact that Kingpin really is doing everything with his family in mind. He doesn’t care that the rest of the multiverse will suffer, so long as his heart’s desire is fulfilled.
Not to mention, this design also makes it look like he basically has scoliosis, or some other deformity in his spine, and knowing that Kingpin is like 0.01% fat and 99.99% muscle, it’s completely possible that the reason his body is so misshapen is because it literally can’t handle his density and mass. I mean, let’s all remember that Kingpin has ZERO super powers, but can crush a man’s chest cavity, cause cracks in concrete with his blows, and even generates a giant shock-wave attack by smashing his fists into the side of a building.
Each and every design in this film serves a fundamental purpose and considering some more popular and lucrative animation studios right now are making a killing on cheap, lazy animation and character design, you bet your sweet jiggly ass I’ll defend this movie to the nines. This film has talent behind it. It has passion and love woven into it, and every single aspect of this film’s look should be praised and looked to for inspiration.
- Animation – A+
- Character design – A+
- Set design – A+
- Style – A+
This movie, man. This movie is amazing.
It really is the best Spider-Man movie I’ve ever seen, and I think it might even be the best super hero movie I’ve ever seen.
It’s everything I think a comic book super hero movie should be. It’s fun, it’s visually stunning, it’s epic, and it commits to crazy. It commits to the fact that comics, especially hero comics, are dumb fun and it embraces it. It embraces it and celebrates it.
It doesn’t try to make it more realistic.
It doesn’t try to over-explain the weird shit that happens.
It’s not ashamed of what it is.
How many comic book movies can you honestly think of that have accomplished ALL of these things? Not very many right? If any.
I mean, yeah Marvel has a great track record right now with their IPs, but I’m not sure anyone would argue that Infinity War was a “fun” movie. DC films have been a wreck, to say the least, and lean waaaaay too far in on the whole “we must be taken seriously” thing. Fox’s Marvel stuff has been…ah…touch and go, and they’ve always shied away from the costumes (and, in the case of the Fantastic Four, fucking names). And even as amazing as Chris Nolan’s Batman series is, it’s hardly “comic book-y”, if you know what I mean.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse feelslike a real comic brought to life. It has all the quirk and mayhem we love about comics, with all the spectacle and excitement we love about movies.
It does not apologize, it does not compromise. It is what it is.
And it is Spider-Man.
And I love it for that.
Final Grade: A+
I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas tomorrow! And please enjoy my little upcoming Christmas gift to you all: The Twelve Days of Bendis! Starting Dec. 25, I will be reviewing some of Brian Michael Bendis’ most famous (and infamous) issues working as a Marvel writer. I hope you enjoy!