Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

 

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The seventh Spider-Man movie re-invents our hero as a black schoolboy in an animated mind-trip that is as fresh as it is entertaining.

 
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

 

In our new age of cultural diversity, it only makes sense that we should now have a black Spider-Man. And a Spider-Woman. In fact, without giving too much away, there’s quite a variety of familiar characters on show here, jumping onto the arachnid bandwagon. Since scientists have proved that an atom can be in more than one place at the same time, comic-book fiction has leaped into the quantum realm with both feet, all captions blazing.

 

Our hero is not Peter Parker, but Miles Morales, a Brooklyn schoolboy with a precocious grasp of physics and a talent for graffiti art. But he’s experiencing growing pains (his catchphrase is: “it’s just puberty”), and after he’s bitten by a radioactive spider things really start to get weird.

 

With its anything-goes mandate, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse proves to be the funniest Spidey to date, riffing on its own self-referencing and stuffing the screen with subliminal in-jokes. As parallel dimensions keep coughing up new versions of our hero, Miles asks Peter Parker (one of two Peter Parkers): “How many Spider people are there?” To which Peter Parker II replies with a curt, “save it for Comic-Con.”

 

As a piece of computer animation, the film mines the look of the original Marvel comics, punctuating the screen with speech boxes and wham-bang captions, while borrowing from other cartoon genres as well. There are even cameo styles cadged from anime and Warner’s Looney Tunes, presenting a visual palette that is as fresh as it is constantly beguiling. It’s a stylish, rip-roaring mind-trip for cartoon buffs and science geeks alike and the energy never flags. However, style can only take a story so far and the later scenes are so surreal that’s it hard to keep up. If one’s happy just to go along for the ride and chuckle contentedly at the lunacy of it all, then this should suffice nicely.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Voices of  Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber, Nicolas Cage, Chris Pine, Lake Bell, Zoë Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Stan Lee, Oscar Isaac.

 

Dir Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman, Pro Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Christina Steinberg, Screenplay Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman, Pro Des Justin Thompson, Ed Robert Fisher Jr, Music Daniel Pemberton.

 

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation/Marvel Entertainment-Sony Pictures

116 mins. USA. 2018. Rel: 12 December 2018. Cert. PG.