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Thread: SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE ( Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey | 2018)

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    SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE ( Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey | 2018)

    BOB PERSICHETTI, PETER RAMSEY: SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (2018)


    MILES MORALES (VOICED BY SHAMEIK MOORE) IN . . . INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

    A sparkling, if a bit overproduced, recreation of the legend in animated form

    Comic book superhero movies are big corporate mainstream enterprises, but this year we had something different in Black Panther. It too was a big mainstream effort, and it was based on a comic book, but it was a significant change of pace because it had a black hero and the cast was entirely black. (This came in the year also of BlacKKKlansman, Sorry to Bother You, and Blindspotting earlier in the year, and If Beale Street Could Talk at the end.) A different point of view, still with comic book precedent, comes with the appealing animated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This provides several further twists in a minority direction because it has a black Latino protagonist, a kid with a cop dad (Brian Tyree Henry) who's feeling awkward at a new fancy private school. Furthermore, he never quite learns how to become a superhero. He gets the spider bite and the sticky fingers and the ability to spin out a line of webbing, but his skills and super powers are still at the development stage when the story ends.

    The story line focuses on a bunch of alternate-universe spider-people, referencing the complicated world of comic book heroes and their divided world of DC and Marvel. But the most important thing is that at the center is young Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a dark-skinned boy with a cop father and a bad-guy uncle, whose mother talks to him in Spanish, which extends the demographic of identification. At least to all of Brooklyn, which is the main setting - and to the worlds of graffiti and hip hop. What's important isn't so much that white comic book artists thought up a lot of variations on their themes, but that minority kids can see themselves up on the big screen in a superhero movie. But not, quite, as a superhero - an apprentice one. This is a reinvention of the genre for a new generation of kids.

    This is also a witty and self-reflective version of the myth, constantly alluding to alternate versions and the drawn variations. After he's bitten by the radioactive-spider, Miles discovers a huge task, using the key to a "collider" to block "The Kingpin" (Liev Schreiber) from blasting open a portal into other dimensions and disrupting the universe. He meets Peter Parker, who's going to help and mentor him - only he meets a sudden, tragic end. The portal leads to another universe with a living, but worse for wear Spider-Man, with stubble, baggy eyes, and a gut. Other comics-based spider-based heroes turn up to help too. To go with the multi-verse idea, the film uses multiple visual styles, including ben-day dots, digital cartoons, manga, and something that looks like rotoscoping. My main memory, though, besides the closeups of the faces of Miles and his close relatives, are the glorious skies full of figures flying around in them. The filmmakers constantly remind us that they're evoking the experience of flipping through a bright-colored comic-book, and all the characters are aware their home base may be Comic-Con. There are specific references to Phil Lord and Chris Miller's great Lego Movie (which it's time to watch again!) as well (Lord and Miller are included in the credits), which influences the witty dialogue and fast pace.

    This Spider-Man beat out The Mule and Mortal Engines at its pre-Christmas weekend debut, but it has a lot to make back since it's production budget was reportedly $90 million. To justify that cost, it has some names picking up paychecks for voicing, including Nicolas Cage channeling Bogart in "Spider-Noir" (a black-and white figure), plus Lily Tomlin, Zoë Kravitz, Moonlight's now ubiquitous Mahershala Ali as the morally flawed Uncle Aaron, and Liev Schreiber, Hailee Steinfeld, and as Peter Parker Chris Pine. But most of the bucks presumably went into spectacular animation, and it has that. Perhaps too much of it, since at some point strutting its visual stuff in elaborate airborne adventures takes over from character development. Admittedly with a minimum of seven alternate Spider-people to juggle, the writers have a lot to deal with, but the basic Peter Parker story seen in the main Spider-Man features may have more personal storytelling than this glittering product. Nonetheless, Into the Spider-Verse represents a welcome new direction. Watch for this at awards time.

    Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, 117 mins., debuted abroad starting 12 Dec. 2018. In France it got an AlloCiné press rating of 4.2: film critic Olivier Delcroix of Le Figaro called it "staggering and masterful." US release 14 Dec. Metascore 87.







    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 12-31-2018 at 08:23 PM.

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