Into the Alternatives - Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Miles Morales is a teenage student very unhappy at the New York boarding school where he spends the whole week living and learning. His parents love him, but feels uncomfortable with the attention his father gives him. Things change for Miles, though, in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. One weeknight, Miles (Shaneik Moore) sneaks off campus, spending time with his uncle Aaron Davis (Mahershala Ali), whose brother Jeff (Brian Tyree Henry) is Miles's policeman father. Aaron takes Miles to an abandoned subway station and permits him to create graffiti. While there, Miles receives a bite from a radioactive spider created by Alchemex, a company committed to certain scientific breakthroughs. Company owner Wilson "Kingpin" Fisk (Liev Schreiber) has commissioned the creation of a particle accelerator that will bring alternative universes to the world where he is. Miles notices he has changed, and tries to find the spider that bit him, but stumbles upon Alchemex instead, as well as its chief scientist, Olivia "Doctor Octopus" Octavius (Kathryn Hahn). Spider-Man (Chris Pine) also knows about Alchemex's efforts, and tries to stop them. Instead, he confronts Doc Ock and and a couple of Kingpin's henchmen. Before their showdown, Spider-Man gives Miles a USB drive that will disable the accelerator. The ensuing fight leaves Spider-Man and Green Goblin (Jorma Taccone) dead. Miles discovers the drive sustains damage.
Doc Ock, under orders from Kingpin, tests the accelerator, and discovers that it works. It also brings others with abilities similar to Miles into his universe. One of them is Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), an older Spider-Man who agrees to help Miles develop his new abilities. Miles even buys a Spider-Man costume for himself. Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), whose alter-ego is Spider-Woman, becomes Miles's classmate and secret protector. Other similarly-powered beings who meet Miles are Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), who comes from the 1930s, Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), who comes from a millennium in the future, and Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), a former Spider bitten by a radioactive pig. They understand that the next successful test of the accelerator will be catastrophic, so Peter B. Parker takes them to his Aunt May (Lily Tomlin), who has a stockpile of weapon to help them confront Kingpin, Doc Ock, and their associates. While Peni works to repair the drive, the doctor lets Miles in on a little secret about his comrades in webslingling.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is an enjoyable look at the various incarnations of the famed webslinger. I like the look of the film because it looks like a comic book, complete with occasional captions. The movie has a trio of directors, including Rodney Rothman, who co-wrote the screenplay with Phil Lord, whose credits include the animated Lego features. This movie reminds me a bit of The Lego Batman Movie, which covers the history of the Caped Crusader and his efforts to reduce crime in Gotham. Miles, like his counterparts, has to keep his identity a secret, as he knows Jeff considers Spider-Man a foe of law enforcement. Like the original Spider-Man, Miles has to balance school and crime fighting. However, he has to overcome his reluctance to devote himself to his studies. He also has to learn how to use his powers, as Miles finds out early that everything he touches sticks to him. The film also pays tribute to the animated history of Spider-Man, as clips from the 1960s TV series find their way into the movie. I prefer some of the live action Spider-Man entries Marvel has produced, but it is certainly better than some of the other six that focus on Peter Parker.
Moore is pleasant as Miles, the Spider-Man fan who becomes more than a fan. He has been given the key to stop the Alchemex efforts, but circumstances make success a little more complicated than that. He has to honor the memory of his hero while he learns how to handle the responsibility. In school, he still shows that he's, in some ways, a typical teen, as he likes the attention he gets from Gwen, whom he knows as Gwanda before she reveals herself. He's hardly an instant hero, but he wants to do well by the city he calls home, whether New Yorkers welcome his efforts or not. There's plenty of support in the ensemble. I especially enjoy Henry as Jeff, the loving father and dedicated officer who looks to serve and protect during the accelerator disruptions. Johnson is also solid as a disillusioned, disheveled Parker who accepts the role of mentor. Schreiber and Hahn have histories as talented character actors, and here they step into adversarial roles with ease. Ali is very good as Uncle Aaron, who loves his nephew, but hides another side of himself. Tomlin is fun as a different sort of Aunt May, and Steinfield is delightful as Gwen, who easily blends into Miles's world. Luna Lauren Velez gives voice to Miles's mother, Rio Morales, while archive vocals of Cliff Robertson are used in a clip as Uncle Ben. Stan Lee has two vocal appearances - one as Stan, a costume salesman, and the other as J. Jonah Jameson in another realm where Spider-Man resides.
Spider-Man has been protecting his hometown - as well as the world - in print since 1962. While Peter Parker and his secret identity debuted on television in 1967, he has become even more popular on the big screen in the 21st century. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse marks the big screen debut of Miles, who made his print debut in 2011, as the main character. This young man shows he does not need to exist in the shadow of Peter Parker. He shows he has the resolve to be the hero that his idol had been. Miles Morales admired the efforts of Peter Parker, and now he has unexpectedly become the one to continue the Spider-Man legacy.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse 3.5 stars. Miles Morales now has his own webs to spin.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse trailer
© 2019 Pat Mills