As is the case with The Simpsons, they have been known to predict the future on a number of occasions. While Homer Simpson wasn’t singing about Trump when he sang “Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig…”, their latest prediction did foresee a Spider-Man/Spider-Pig hybridisation in the Trump era. Watch the Into the Spider-Verse trailer to see “Spider-Pig”.
There have been many iterations of Spider-Man over the years with a number of reboots and now an animated spin-off. The character has been reinvented a number of times, which makes this version seem strangely fitting, as our hero, Miles Morales, encounters the superhero across a number of dimensions to create a team of Spider-Beings. As is the case with superhero teams, they band together to stop a threat they’d ordinarily tackle solo… this time going one up on simply saving earth or Valhalla to rescue reality.
Much like The Lego Movie, this film is quite revolutionary in terms of its visual styling and furious pacing. The connection isn’t really all that surprising with The Lego Movie’s Phil Lord attached as a producer. While it takes some getting used to, the visuals have a comic edge with plenty of typical graphic elements filtering into the medium. Comic book fans will appreciate the print texture of the visuals, translating the pulpy, fun and creative energy into the animation. While almost overwhelming at first… comparable with staring into a strobe light, you gradually adjust to the quick-paced nature of the visuals, much like The Lego Movie.
To get us there is another team, of directors, in Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman. Adding to the eclectic and unpredictable anything-goes feeling, they coax some wonderful performances from the vocal talents featuring Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson and Hailee Steinfeld. While the world of animation is a playground for the imagination, it’s usually constrained by budget, forcing productions to stay within fixed limits. You don’t get that feeling with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which goes beyond the beyond without seeming confined.
“I guess you could call us the Interweb…”
Sometimes hypnotic, somewhat irreverent and full of spunk, this is a film which literally jumps off the wall. From the graffiti of the music to the ambitious artistic decisions, this streetwise film oozes cool and operates with swagger. Bold, inter-dimensional visuals, heartfelt drama and wacky comedy blend into a curious, effervescent and wild ride. While there are a number of dramatic turns that make you forget you’re watching a stream of graphics, the film-makers try to keep the emotional undercurrent quite light and frothy, focusing on the visual splendour and oddball comedy over audience connection.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a triumph, which should easily clinch all the big animation awards this year. While it’s more suited to younger audiences, there’s no denying its impact value that will reverberate for some time to come. In the same headspace as The Lego Movie, it reinvents the versatile superhero brand, poking fun at itself and ingraining itself in pop culture. It has got replay value and while chucking everything into the melting pot does make it purposefully inconsistent, one can’t help but be amazed at the overarching achievement.
Transcending the animation at times to capture moments of the human experience only to blast off into an artful, visually dynamic and colourful explosion of action intensity, it’s a well-balanced action extravaganza and spirited drama that infuses the non-stop entertainment and creativity of The Lego Movie with the euphoria and novelty of the Spider-Man universe.
The bottom line: Explosive