Sony’s 1st two films with Maguire were top notch, nearly every entry since apart from “Homecoming” collaboration between Sony and Marvel) were less than stellar. I loved the 90s animated series so I was excited to see how an animated movie would translate, granted I wasn’t trilled about the storyline involving multiple Spider-beings.
Sony’s latest take on Spiderman follows the perspective of Miles Morales in his 1st feature film. He’s bitten by a radioactive spider (acts like its nothing at all) until his hands start to stick to stuff and then begins adjusting to the new powers once he meets-up with the real Spider-Man(voiced by Jake Johnson) in a “Karate Kid” like since. Then before you know it, five other Spider-Man-like characters, each from a different dimension (thus creating this “Spider-Verse”) show-up. They include an older Peter Parker (who becomes Miles’ mentor), Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham, anime Peni Parker and Spider-Man Noir. Together they must stop some familiar villains from wiping-out NYC and try to get back home.
The set-up is fresh: Miles’ (voiced by Shameik Moore) relationship with his uncle and parents (dad – voiced by Brian Tyree Henry – isn’t a Spider-Man fan), awkward high school scenes and young hipster music. There are a couple of big surprises in the first half hour, including a cameo from the late Stan Lee (who also receives a special end credits dedication).
I loved the overall look of the movie, characters are more fleshed out and the narrative is more impactful. The comedy is the glue that really holds it together, every time they introduce a new character they use comedy and it really pops, it helps elevate the story but it’s not afraid to be serious either.
As for the look, the results are a mixed bag. The characters themselves are well designed. But the technique of hand-drawing on top of every frame of CGI provides a blurry effect that’s often distracting. Going for a true comic page look produced numerous moments that appear as 3D animation without 3D glasses (don’t get me wrong the 3D was used well, here it just felt doubled down, coupled with the first fight scene was quite jarring). I really like the insertion of the text bubbles to really bring out the comic book page added an extra element to the story.
“Spider-Verse” also includes several drawn-out action sequences. Thankfully a couple nice twists break up the repetitiveness.
The goal of directors Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsey, as well as producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, was to make a comic book come to life. You really do feel for the characters and get emotionally involved.
Rated PG for frenetic sequences of animated action violence, thematic elements, and mild language
REVIEW SCORE/ A