July 15, 2019

Winnipeg
28° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

A tangled web

Spider-Man franchise gets revitalized with action-packed animated reboot

Oh, Spidey. One of the best comic-book characters ever has in recent years become a mess of cinematic starts and stops, revisions, reconsiderations and reboots.

Somehow this new all-ages animated adventure doesn’t add to the problem. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse actually solves it. In exploring multiple versions of Spider-Man (including male, female and even a pig),this eye-popping, super-entertaining movie becomes an antidote to all that Marvel Extended Universe overload.

The story, overseen by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman, feels fresh, starting with its likeable hero, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), an Afro-Hispanic teenager from Brooklyn. A regular, comic-book-loving kid who is a reluctant scholarship student at a boarding school outside his neighbourhood, he’s awkwardly trying to fit in. He’s got a complicated relationship with his loving, law-and-order cop father (Brian Tyree Henry) and often retreats to the laidback loft apartment of his much cooler Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali).

Then Miles gets bitten by that life-changing radioactive spider. He doesn’t know what to do with his new abilities, and — as with Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man — the onset of uncontrollable superpowers is compared to the blurting, unpredictable embarrassments of adolescence.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Keep reading free:

Already have an account? Log in here »

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Oh, Spidey. One of the best comic-book characters ever has in recent years become a mess of cinematic starts and stops, revisions, reconsiderations and reboots.

Somehow this new all-ages animated adventure doesn’t add to the problem. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse actually solves it. In exploring multiple versions of Spider-Man (including male, female and even a pig),this eye-popping, super-entertaining movie becomes an antidote to all that Marvel Extended Universe overload.

The story, overseen by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman, feels fresh, starting with its likeable hero, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), an Afro-Hispanic teenager from Brooklyn. A regular, comic-book-loving kid who is a reluctant scholarship student at a boarding school outside his neighbourhood, he’s awkwardly trying to fit in. He’s got a complicated relationship with his loving, law-and-order cop father (Brian Tyree Henry) and often retreats to the laidback loft apartment of his much cooler Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali).

Then Miles gets bitten by that life-changing radioactive spider. He doesn’t know what to do with his new abilities, and — as with Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man — the onset of uncontrollable superpowers is compared to the blurting, unpredictable embarrassments of adolescence.

Sony Pictures Animation / The Associated Press</p><p>Miles Morales, voiced by Shameik Moore, in 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.'</p>

Sony Pictures Animation / The Associated Press

Miles Morales, voiced by Shameik Moore, in 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.'

Miles’s personal problems soon get overshadowed by a much bigger situation when he bumps into the regular Spider-Man, who’s in the middle of a deadly battle with Kingpin (Liev Schreiber). The hulking villain has built a "multi-dimensional collider" to search for a parallel universe in which his beloved wife and child are still alive. While this quantum-warping contraption threatens to rip a hole in the space-time continuum, it also means that different versions of Spider-Man keep arriving from other dimensions to help out.

There’s alternative Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), who on his Earth is depressive, divorced and just a little paunchy around the middle. There’s a tough, hoodie-wearing Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), a wise-cracking cartoon pig (John Mulaney), a plucky girl right out of Japanese anime (Kimiko Glenn), and even a noir version of Spider-Man, who’s rendered in black and white and says things like, "Sometimes I let a match burn down to my fingers just so I can feel something." Noir Spidey also offers one of the best Nic Cage performances in recent memory.

The script is meta in a way that’s light and joshing but also sneakily serious. Exploring several versions of Spider-Man allows the scripters to have a little fun with the multiverse tradition of comic-book storytelling. They also get to make some self-aware comments on the tangled web of Spidey’s recent filmic history, even getting in an affectionate dig at Tobey Maguire’s misbegotten dance scene.

The fact that "many can wear the mask," as the script points out several times, also allows for a superhero dynamic that is inherently more team-spirited and democratic than the usual lone-wolf fantasy. Bringing all these different Spider-people together becomes a low-key way of addressing issues of representation. The Spider-verse is a place where the faces on the screen reflect back a truer picture of the faces in the audience.

The look of the film, from directors Rothman, Peter Ramsey and Bob Persichetti, is eye-popping and innovative. Realistic in some ways — conveying a crowded, gritty sense of modern urban life, for example — the animation is highly stylized in other ways. Picking up the punchy, graphic feel of comic books, the animators extend it into super-kinetic motion that just bursts with energy and dynamism. In spots, especially those involving Spider-Ham, there’s a bit of the comical anarchy seen in old Warner Bros. cartoons.

Add in a story that handles both large-scale superhero action and small-scale human problems and actually pulls off some real feeling, and this Spider-Man — along with all his Spider-Friends — is the best cinematic webslinger in years.

alison.gillmor@freepress.mb.ca

More Images

Alison Gillmor

Alison Gillmor
Writer

Studying at the University of Winnipeg and later Toronto’s York University, Alison Gillmor planned to become an art historian. She ended up catching the journalism bug when she started as visual arts reviewer at the Winnipeg Free Press in 1992.

Read full biography

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.