This week’s animation review comes into the form of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Constantly renowned as the best animated film of the 2010s, Sony gained their first Oscar for Animated Feature for this unique comic book adaptation that saw Disney take a rare defeat at awards season. The film follows the regular Spider-Man lore as Brooklyn teen, Miles Morales is bitten by a radioactive spider and has to follow in Peter Parker’s footsteps after he is killed by Kingpin. A dangerous device that opens portals to alternate universes and Morales meets various Spider-Man characters from the different comics such as Spider-Ham and The Amazing Spider-Man. Based on a screenplay written by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman and directed by the latter along with Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsey, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a fantastic and unique animation that brings something new and exciting to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Lord and Rothman’s screenplay blends the various Spider-Man comics perfectly as it becomes a mix of drama and satire, poking fun at itself. When bringing in the other Spider-Man variations, it could have easily become too much and the characters not be fully developed and identifiable but the screenplay is so quick and smart that even the supporting characters are given a fair share of screen-time. One of the best characters is by far Spider-Man Noir (voiced incredibly by Nicolas Cage), a parody of the 1930s inspired by the likes of Humphrey Bogart. There are some great puns bringing him into the modern day such as his inability to see the colours in a Rubik’s Cube because he is black and white as well as being unable to understand how it works. It feels like a refreshing take on a comic book adaptation and its bravery killing off Parker early on was really unexpected, particularly for a family film.
The animation was provided by Sony Pictures Animation and the style is something I have not come across before. Combining traditional comic book art and computer animation, the style of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is both a nostalgic nod to its literal source material whilst using the most advanced animation techniques. Not only is this a welcome break from the usual computer animation that we’ve become used to seeing, but like its protagonist, it gives the film an alternative identity that makes it a standout. It’s understandable that besides its attachment to Marvel, why it would be popular based on the design. The graffiti scene where Miles and his Uncle Aaron spray a wall in a subway is particularly stunning and really brings the environment to life thanks to its mix of bright colour palette in the graffiti combined with the grittiness of the New York subway. Another fantastically designed scene is the climactic fight when the portal is opened and time and space merges and becomes a mesh of various universes.
Featuring a starry cast led by Shameik Moore, who voices Miles, the voicework is hugely impressive. Moore’s performance is great and really gets into the inner conflict Miles faces as he gets to grips with his new identity while trying to fit in at his new elite school. Miles is such a likeable character because of his relatability as well as showing the very realistic issues that would come with becoming a superhero. As well as Moore, other vocal standouts for me were Mahershala Ali as Miles’ Uncle Aaron and Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir. Both really get to the heart of their characters and its clear that they are having fun with it.
Another thing to mention is the score composed by Daniel Pemberton. Atmospheric and unpredictable, there are moments of pure drama, horror and tension scattered throughout in the music. Pemberton’s score is really unique and enhances the film. Mixed with an impressive soundtrack that includes original songs by Post Malone and Nicki Minaj, Pemberton’s ability to shift musical genres that again, like Miles’ character and the animation, gives the film a distinct identity that shows its versatility and uniqueness.
Overall, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is an impressive feat that pushes boundaries and shows a different direction for animation. Boasting fantastic voice performances and stellar animation design, its cultural and stylistic impact cannot be ignored and only bodes well for the future of the franchise. It’s exciting to see where Marvel and Sony will take the animated franchise in the future but doubtless it will be a huge success and if this film was anything to go by, welcoming even more awards.
What did you think of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse? Let me know in the comments below!