Spec­tac­u­lar, amaz­ing and hammy to boot

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Showbiz - Re­view by DAVIN ARUL en­ter­tain­[email protected]­tar.com.my

Spi­der-Man: Into The Spi­der-Verse Di­rec­tors: Bob Per­sichetti, Pe­ter Ram­sey, Rod­ney Roth­man

Voice cast: Shameik Moore, Hailee Ste­in­feld, Jake John­son, Ni­co­las Cage, Liev Schreiber, Ma­her­shala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tom­lin, John Mu­laney,

THE best Spi­der-Man movie since Sam Raimi’s se­cond one, this an­i­mated fea­ture also has the wildest, trip­pi­est sights seen in a Mar­vel movie since Doc­tor Strange.

But more than just be­ing a show­case (oops, wrong pub­lisher) of as­ton­ish­ing vis­tas, it is also an in­fec­tiously free-spir­ited and en­er­getic cel­e­bra­tion of all things Spi­der-Man, and also of every fond mem­ory you have from read­ing comics.

With a vis­ual sense that veers wildly from slick com­put­eran­i­mated ne­o­re­al­ism to plain old four-colour print­ing of the kind found in old comics (with the colour reg­is­tra­tion even seem­ing “off” in places), Into The Spi­der-Verse isa bold ap­proach to telling a fa­mil­iar story and it pays off in spades.

Af­ter all, face it, True Be­liever – when it comes to su­per­hero movies, there’s noth­ing more fa­mil­iar (and more in dan­ger of grow­ing stale re­ally fast) than an ori­gin story.

At least, it in­volves a char­ac­ter who is not only new to the movies but rel­a­tively young in comic years, too.

The cen­tral Spi­der-Man here is Miles Mo­rales (voiced by Shameik Moore) – a young­ster who (in 2011, in the Ul­ti­mate line of comics set in a par­al­lel di­men­sion to the “reg­u­lar” Mar­vel Uni­verse) took on the Wall-Crawler’s role af­ter Pe­ter Parker died.

While the core con­tent of the ori­gin story is pretty stan­dard, the charm and piz­zazz (ah, cor­rect pub­lisher this time) of the film lie in how it tells its tale.

As the ti­tle in­di­cates, there is a whole mul­ti­verse of par­al­lel di­men­sions out there, each with its own in­car­na­tion of the hero.

And some­thing re­ally mon­u­men­tal hap­pens to bring a mot­ley bunch of these Alt-Spideys to Miles’s di­men­sion, just as he is strug­gling with his new­found su­per­pow­ers. The less you know about this one go­ing in, the more you will en­joy it. That was cer­tainly my ex­pe­ri­ence, since the trailer I saw didn’t re­veal much aside from the dif­fer­ent Spideys in­volved. The ex­tended sneak peek tacked on af­ter the end cred­its of Venom did not ex­actly im­press me ei­ther, since it gave no con­text in which the viewer could ap­pre­ci­ate it.

So to be hon­est, I went in ex­pect­ing this to be a pass­ably en­ter­tain­ing di­ver­sion at best.

Was I ever mis­taken – but also happy to have been wrong.

Spi­der-Verse is crafted with a clear love for comics and the su­per­hero genre, even ac­cord­ing the late Spi­der-Man co-cre­ator Stan Lee a cameo that speaks vol­umes and is now all the more poignant af­ter his re­cent pass­ing.

The writ­ers – Lego Movie cocre­ator Phil Lord and his 22 Jump Street script col­lab­o­ra­tor Rod­ney Roth­man – have the un­canny knack of know­ing just when to pull back be­fore rev­er­ence be­comes overindul­gent fawn­ing, and how to take the mickey out of their ma­te­rial without be­ing dis­re­spect­ful.

(Ad­mit­tedly, cer­tain sub­jects of this gen­tle mock­ery, such as Tobey Maguire’s dance/strut in Spi­derMan 3, and the overuse of the “with great power, etc” phrase, could stand a lit­tle more diss­ing than what they get here.)

There is some pretty strong emo­tional con­tent, in­volv­ing not just the main char­ac­ter but also the “guest Spideys” and even the cen­tral vil­lain.

Those fa­mil­iar with the comics will also re­alise that Miles’s fam­ily dy­namic (once it is es­tab­lished on-screen) is go­ing to cause him a great deal of un­ex­pected heartache fur­ther along.

And when that mo­ment comes, the film milks it for all the grandly oper­atic im­port you would ex­pect of such larger-than-life sto­ries.

Voice act­ing is pitch-per­fect all round, with Ni­co­las Cage stand­ing out for a hi­lar­i­ous take on Spi­derMan Noir (a dark, brood­ing vig­i­lante pat­terned in part af­ter the masked 1930s non-Mar­vel pulp fic­tion char­ac­ter The Spi­der).

In­ter­di­men­sional sa­gas tend to be a lit­tle hard on the nog­gin, but rest as­sured that you don’t need a de­gree in ad­vanced Star Trek: The Next Gen­er­a­tion tech­nob­a­b­ble to fol­low the con­tin­uum-bust­ing hi­jinks here.

No, just let this lit­tle gem grab you by the col­lar and haul you onto its neon-lined dance floor.

Cart­wheels op­tional.

Spidey fi­nally de­cided to fol­low his en­e­mies’ ad­vice and take a long walk off a short crane boom. In this par­al­lel di­men­sion, it seems Nor­man Os­born and not Bruce Ban­ner was the gamma ra­di­a­tion geek.

‘Like my look? You might say I took the hood out of Friendly Neigh­bour­hood.’ — Pho­tos: Sony Pic­tures

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