When I first heard the announcement of this movie a few years back, I was intrigued. An animated Spider-Man film with the great Phil Lord and Chris Miller serving as producers and co-writers is a combination you simply cannot go wrong with. However, I did not expect a film with the level of inventiveness that this film has. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is unlike anything I have ever seen before and is easily my pick for the best film of 2018.
Spider-Verse tells a very compelling and heartwarming story. On one side you got all the epic and incredibly shot action, but on the other you get a very emotionally driven story about Miles Morales’s father trying to connect with him. It’s a very nice balance and one that is seldom seen in superhero films. The film also develops a great dynamic between Miles and the alternate dimension Peter Parker, whose life is in shambles and needs some figuring out. Then there is a bond that’s built between Miles and Gwen Stacy which is also very well done. So there is a lot of relationship building in this film and it creates a real emotional drive in the film’s story and develops all these side characters who each have their own story. This makes what would be a typical side character plot something truly gripping and exciting. All of it leads to what is one of the most chaotic and fun third acts I’ve seen.
The film revolves around Miles Morales, one of the more recent incarnations of Spider-Man, and his origin story of how he became Spider-Man. May seem rather typical, but he is also visited by a bunch of other Spider-Men from alternate universes and that’s where the inventiveness of the film’s story and the uniqueness really kicks in. There is a villain in the form of King Pin, who they must defeat so they can get all the Spider-Men back to their original universes.
Visually, the film is incredible. An animated film with such an amount of inventiveness in its art direction is, unfortunately, a rarity at the moment. But, I am hoping this film will kickstart a new trend in animation where animation filmmakers will move away from photorealism and strive for more experimental artistry in their films. The film blends hand-drawn animation and computer animation seamlessly. Though the majority of the film is computer animated, it all has a hand-drawn, comic book aesthetic to it. The dynamic camerawork also completely blew me away. Also, the added benefit of being an animated film allows for more exciting cinematography and storytelling than anything coming from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is a remarkable achievement in directing and in animation. This, to me, is where the art of animation is heading. Films with an inventive art style, giving us the level of detail and precision that computer animation offers, but the warmth, beauty and stylization of hand drawn animation. I’ve been very vocal about this in the past and will continue to be. This is where the industry should go. It is the evolution of the art form.
The film is exceptionally written. I am a huge fan of the work of Phil Lord and Chris Miller and was surprised to hear that they weren’t directing this film. But the film was written by Phil Lord and produced by both of them. They know how to give us some very funny, cleverly written films but pull some emotional punches in their work when necessary. This film is no different. Writing is snappy and exchanges between characters are absolutely legendary at certain points. The humor even branches out to more meta territory at times (make sure to stay through the credits!) Characters are very well developed and likable. The film’s villain, King Pin, is menacing and feels like a real threat. As soon as you find out his backstory, you really have no idea where the film will go. And that unpredictability of expectations is one of the most brilliant story devices in this film.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse floored me. It the best Spider-Man film since Spider-Man 2, if not the best Spider-Man film to date. It is a visual marvel and gives us a very well told and unique story. It gets very weird and chaotic at times and that only adds to its charm. Every single frame in this film left me in total awe. It is easily the best film of 2018 and one of the best superhero movies of all time.