Review: 'Spider-Man:
Into the Spider-Verse'

A new Spider-Man teams up with multi-dimensional doppelgangers in new animated film
In the animated 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' our main hero—Miles Morales—is joined by many alternate spider-men and spider-women.

Overstuffed but startling, the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has the mountainous mafia villain Wilson "Kingpin" Fisk (voiced by Liev Schreiber) firing up a Jack Kirby-style dimension smasher to breach the walls to other universes: all to try to retrieve his demised family. "You can have all the families you want!," promises his head scientist Liv (Kathryn Hahn, first hippieish and chirpy, then quite frightening, after the revelation of who she really is).

A new young man with spider powers takes over the role of the hero—undersized Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) a hoodied, Nike-wearing Nuyorican kid. A tagger by night, reluctantly a boarding schooled kid by day, he has a stern cop dad and funner, far shadier uncle, Aaron (Mahershala Ali).

He's not alone, though, as a dimensional fissure releases a squad of Spider-Men, women, a Japanese robot and the funny-animal talking pig Spider-Ham from the younger-readers Star comic books. Leave it to Stan Lee to hook 'em young. And of course Lee shows up. Did you seriously think the grave could hold that old cutpurse?

Directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman attempt a Magnificent 7 (actually 6) of spider-entities, but it feels more like a film that opens the toybox and spills all the characters out.

It doesn't work as a tag-teamer, and, Lego Movie-wise, the attempts to satirize the plot-beats are an admission that the many of those beats lack thump.

How it succeeds is as something for everyone. For the old fans, that something will be Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson). He's the same kind of teenage mess Peter Parker always is, no matter who wears the mask, only now he's hitting 40, with a crap apartment, a pizza-nourished belly and sweatpants. Yet of all the spectacle here, one of the most gallant moments was Peter B. doing some quick back-cracking and leg stretches before getting out there into the field. In the movie's most lyrical passage, he teaches young Milo how to swing by webs through a brilliantly orange fall forest, all while the pair are pursued by one of the series' most nightmarish villains.

This highly ambitious cartoon—the first attempt to go this big and theatrical since Batman: Mask of the Phantasm decades ago—captures the visual chaos of the city, in both sound and vision, in neon brightness and dark alleys. It runs long but it never fails to impress with its confidence, its angles, its sensational color and its sense of bringing animation into a new century.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
PG-13, 100 Mins.

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