REVIEW: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
There is little doubt that Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is a fun movie, exceeding everyone’s expectations. It deserves its Oscar, its box office success, and its pioneering an animated path for Marvel to explore.
The film, out now on disc from Sony Home Entertainment, celebrates what it means to wear the suit. Everyone knows Peter Parker and his story so here, the masses are introduced to Mile Morales (Shameik Moore), who has been a part of the comics since 2011 and his world has been merged into the core Marvel Universe, making him a permanent addition.
We also meet other iterations of Spider-Man, each from a separate parallel universe, and these days the general public is fine with the concept of a multiverse. Writers Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman play with it, by having each of the main Spiders do a narration that emphasizes their variance from the well-known origin. In a nod to the film, Marvel had the messy and pointlessly bloated Spider-Geddon event that shows too much is never better.
Wisely, the film starts on Miles’ world, which is clearly not the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he gains his powers just in time for the Green Goblin to kill his world’s Peter Parker (Chris Pine). All of the hullabaloo is sparked because the Kingpin (Liev Shreiber) is using dangerous technology to access the multiverse to find a replacement Vanessa and Richard, having lost his wife and son in a car crash.
Miles, unsure of how to use his newfound abilities, is visited at Parker’s grave by the Peter B. Parker Jake Johnson) from a different world. Together, they agree Fisk has to be stopped, using the data on a damaged flash drive. As the story unfolds, we meet that world’s Doc Ock, Olivia Octavius (Kathryn Hahn), the Prowler (Mahershala Ali), and Aunt May (Lily Tomlin), the latter far more with it and supportive of her Peter’s heroic life.
The unlikely duo of young teen and overweight and far older adult is joined by Spider-Woman, a heroic Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Man Noir (Nicholas Cage), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), and Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), who controls the robotic SP//dr:. Here’s where the brilliantly colorful movie excels by rendering each of these characters in a unique style. Noir is merely in black and white, Ham is two-dimensional animation, and Peni is pure anime.
There’s running, jumping, and fighting along with way too many things blowing up. The final third is pretty much pure action and if there’s any fault, the multiverse exploding threat is too over-the-top for these heroes, who deserve threats better scaled to who they are.
That said, the 117 minutes zip by with a strong score from Daniel Pemberton, and leaves us with a brand-new hero in Miles, who embraces the mantle he has inherited. By all means, stick through the credits for a hysterical nod to two more Spider-Men.
The film is available in numerous formats with retail exclusive editions at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Amazon. The standard Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD combo pack is the most common and offers up a superior high definition transfer. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is up to the noise made by characters bickering and things going boom. Word is the 4K Ultra HD version is even better, naturally. The 3D Blu-ray will be released separately on April 10.
There are some fine special features here, starting with a short feature, “Spider-Ham Caught in a Ham” (4:11), which is amusing enough but should have been funnier.
There’s an Audio Commentary — featuring directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman with producers Phil Lord, Christopher Miller — which details the four-year process of going from concept to finished film and the 800 technicians, artists, actors, and crew to make this CGI film a reality.
The most interesting option is to play the film in its Alternate Universe edition, which integrates deleted scenes, pencil tests, and more. You can see the creative process at work, which is a treat, and adds about 5 minutes to the run time.
Additionally, there are the usual behind the scenes features: We Are Spider-Man (7:51), Spider-Verse A New Dimension (5:09), The Ultimate Comic Cast (15:02), Designing Cinematic Comic Book Characters “Heroes and Hams” (7:45), Designing Cinematic Comic Book Characters “Scoundrels & Scorpions” (5:11), Spider-Verse Super Fan Easter Egg Challenge (5:02), and Sunflower music video by Post Malone & Swae Lee (3:00)
Fittingly, there is also a Tribute to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (8:34), both of whom we lost in 2018.