"For telling us we aren’t the only ones"
Alright, let's do this one last time. Queens, orphan, Aunt May, high school student, radioactive arachnid, bite, transformation, discovery, paranoia, control over his powers, villain landing, alter-ego, upside down kiss, confrontation, moral dilemma, rescued girlfriend, ultimate combat, safe city one, two, three... hundreds of times, endless love, news, "with great power comes great responsibility," kids' inspiration, civic homages, ah!... and by the way, ill-fated encounter, shameful evil dance and shameful look, an utterly perennial loop. Along these lines, would humanity need one more flick knowing by heart the pattern?
If you watch "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse," you're watching the fulfillment of the dream of a group of visionaries who, without thinking about it, have inspired millions and millions of people with a piece of art of unusual magnitudes among the wonderfully competitive modern animated film world, and, at the same time, have injected boldness, personality and brilliance into both Sony Pictures after unexpectedly wishy-washy box-office hit "Venom" last October and Marvel Studios' light-hearted and almost predictable live-action fanfare.
A milestone in mainstream American animation: Disney and Pixar lose their annual crown this time. They play in different leagues and their only two releases scheduled for 2018, "Incredibles 2" and "Ralph Breaks the Internet," are favs among year-end movie lists, but, due to its one-kind approach and vehement freshness, "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" is, above all else, the non-stop-motion— relevant clarification in favor of Wes Anderson's breath-stealing showcase, "Isle of Dogs" —animated motion picture of the year and one of the most exhilarating, witty, socially thought-provoking and artfully made of the decade.
The art department led by Dean Gordon and Patrick O'Keefe and the production design led by Justin Thompson have achieved something rather remarkable: to be different, meta-discursive, self-parodic, surprisingly glued to creator Steve Ditko's unique style and mightily dynamic, progressive and dazzling at the same time; guys, this is Oscar-caliber animation.
Pictures, trippy and hyper-stylized, revolve and bounce, go up and down all around the screen; the composition of every frame, diligently designed and rendered as for color and motion, is a sheer delight, a miracle that will be studied and swooned over for years to come. A piece of top-notch craftsmanship, the shots here skip from the iconic to the symbolic, from the self-referential to the most unflinching flair, the computerized cinematography catches the audience's hearts and minds. Any and all sequences are viscerally engrossing, surgically sketched and masterfully carried out; its comic roots and computer animation rules well above some Pixar's and Disney's visual pieces of art in fits and starts, in part by such a care between perfectionism and personality, handling edges so special and eye-popping that the experience turns into a high-octane kaleidoscope that, even along the closing credits, keep running. It's a gargantuan homage to that iconic, mystical, twisted visual boldness that impressively Ben Davis tried to do justice in the Scott Derrickson-helmed live-action "Doctor Strange;" it all makes sense if you realize that he's the very same comic book artist Stan Lee teamed up with to illustrate and co-create these two worlds; a downright genius, a legend, his name, Steve Ditko, will be remembered for honor, respect and glory, in the comic book world forever.
Beyond genre categories, it's great cinema, period. As a feature film, prone instinctively to social drama above mega-spectacle, it overly succeeds on its devices and purposes, as well as in the flavor it delivers all over the footage between exciting storytelling and effervescent visual prowess.
Inclusion. They don't get tired of wrangling over the tiresome treatment on the morally troubled, Herculean-shaped, straight, white American hero; thence, the "Wakanda Forever" symbol became a global phenomenon, as well as a huge step for diversity in cinema. In this film, his mother, Rio Morales, is a Puerto-Rico-born woman; his father, Jefferson Davis, is African-American; Miles Morales, our hero, is a black/Latino kid from Brooklyn. On the run, Gwen Stacy (A.K.A. Spider-Woman), an American blonde girl from the Earth-616 universe; a forty-something Spider-Man version, divorced and downbeat, Miles' inspiration; Spider-Man Noir, the 1930s Marvel detective; Spider-Ham, an anthropomorphic funny animal parody; and finally, a Japanese version, a female anime, finish up a bunch as unusual as glorious with the highest note. PC or not, such multi-diverse characters taking part in a worldwide release make this a social gem where pride sprouts from in times of bigotry and inequity. The script respects an impressive cultural range from the pages, using it as a strong commentary and storytelling device that moves the plot forward smoothly, as well as raising a love letter to diversity itself. Most of the characters here get a flat-out unusual arch as for the superhero genre concerns; Miles loves his humble former school, but now he has to settle in to an onerous all-white school for gifted children; his father, an uncompromising officer of the New York Police Department, doesn't share the means of superheroes, saving the day and destroying entire cities on their duty, they steal all the prestige of keeping the city safe; the older Spider-Man made some wrong choices, a hero on the downside in need of a new light that makes darkness gone; the story dramatically and emotionally weaves a web of plots that never neglects its genre and elegantly refuses to limit itself to the most comfortable places in utterly fabulous synergy.
Everybody already knows Peter Parker has not been a well-developed character in the celluloid world since his first solo movie hit theaters more than a decade ago. Everybody also knows the benchmark is that wondrous odyssey created by gifted director Mr. Sam Raimi and actor Tobey Maguire. In 2006, the spider webs dried up quickly, however, studios and fans took over the idea of starting from scratch. Eleven years later, a bold Jon Watts released a not-so-mature, fresher and more light-hearted version aided by Tom Holland's innerly charming performance. After that, many claimed Peter Parker got a new, definitive face, forgetting what was just around the corner. "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" is the best cinematic comic book adaptation of the young hero ever made. The usual, everyday superhero stuff is right there: high sounding, epic compositions, a villain — with better development compared to over half Marvel's baddies, — there are death and catharsis, there are anger and betrayal, pyrotechnics and redemption, everything's there; however, the film transcends these platitudes, even leaving "Infinity War" so far behind in terms of depth and critique. There are harmony, magnitude, coherence, and entity; the film, from the beginning, galvanizes the story with unique style that doesn't stop shining until the closing credits, winking at and honoring its comic book vein, using the visual spectacle at its best, harmonizing storytelling and visual mastery as they don't do anymore.
The exclusive visual storytelling is taking all the credit, but those who crafted such dazzlingly complex marvel were directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, screenwriter/producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Passion, commitment and vision are three words that perfectly can be the soul of what these men wanted to project throughout the feature. The pre-credit dedication has a truly priceless purpose, enclosing all the ideas and feelings these people had in their minds and hearts when as they say, thousands of doors were closed, but one would always be open: to believe in themselves. We all know Phil and Chris, not only because of the controversy their "Solo: A Star Wars Story" firing unleashed last year, but also their uproariously funny, witty scripts such as "Deadpool" and "The Lego Movie." Nevertheless, the trio of filmmakers is relatively unknown at the wheel of a movie, save for Ramsey's "Rise of the Guardians," for this reason, it's even more surprising to take in that a near perfect masterpiece came out from these brand-new visionaries.
And now, if you venture to 'classification' lands, a do-or-die dilemma comes up automatically; sharing the throne would and must be the most proper way of doing this. "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" and "Black Panther" are altogether the best superhero films of the year.
"Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman, above being a priceless gift for animation, is a one-of-a-kind superhero film, a respectful and sharp commentary on diversity and a piece of art for the ages; a response to the hatred, disrespect, and violence controlling minds and bodies in unjustified warfares. Is this the perfect antidote for an era of Trump, wrong traditionalism, walls, massacres, and indulgences? Forget about one of the best computer-animated superhero movies ever made, this is a reminder that we're not individuals, we're society, that dreaming is what keeps the world in motion and failure what keeps it evolving. Lee's gone now, but this cinematic feat is a proudly fitting tribute; Ditko is a maestro of out-of-reach scopes. Lee and Ditko have inspired millions, including this bunch of visionaries, who in turn have inspired all of us and our moment has come now; you know what they say: with great power comes great responsibility.