Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a stunningly creative, multicultural, animated adventure. The story of Peter Parker has been told and retold. Now the kid from Queens shares the spotlight with a kid from Brooklyn; along with several awesome web-slinging characters. The transformation of Miles Morales into Spider-Man is an all encompassing emotional journey. Your spider-sense will tingle with laughter, excitement, and a tinge of sadness.
Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) has everyday teenage problems. He's starting a new school, painfully awkward with girls, and is constantly embarrassed by his police officer father (Brian Tyree Henry). Miles is a graffiti artist. His artistic endeavors aren't understood by his parents, but encouraged by his somewhat shady uncle (Mahershala Ali). A fateful night playing hooky from his school dorm changes his life forever.
Unexplained seismic events rattle New York City. Miles' body starts exhibiting incredible powers. He's mystified by what's happening. His search for answers leads to an older, flabby, sweatpants wearing Peter Parker (Jake Johnson). He's not remotely like the Spider-Man that Miles envisioned, but a lot of changes occur when you travel to a different universe.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse doesn't have a dull second. The film explodes with vibrancy. Screenwriter/co-producer Phil Lord (The Lego Movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) takes the classic Spider-Man lore and puts it into a blender on high speed. All of the small details that are known by the die-hard fans fits perfectly into Lord's super hip, modern take. The story becomes even more engaging with the surprisingly serious elements. Miles faces significant tragedy. He learns the real peril that comes with being a hero.
Miles Morales listens to rap music. He uses spray paint to express himself. He's a black, spanish speaking teenager from Brooklyn. He's a reflection of many people who don't normally see themselves represented in superhero movies. But his racial and ethnic background aren't glorified or denigrated. It's just a part of his character. Miles experiences the same adolescent issues that every teen in America does. He just has to fight Kingpin (Liev Schreiber), his legion of ruthless villains, and save the city from destruction.
Jake Johnson's older Peter Parker nearly steals the film. He provides much of the comic relief. I found his story arc to be as interesting as Miles Morales. Phil Lord uses the character to poke fun of standard comic book tropes. Peter as a disillusioned hero is fascinating to see. He's a realistic mentor, sweatpants and all.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse can be visually exhausting. I give the filmmakers from Sony Pictures Animation and Marvel Studios credit for pushing the bar. The animation style is truly unique. It's obvious a lot of thought and energy went into making the film distinctive. I appreciate the artistry, but honestly struggled watching several scenes. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse looks like a comic book. The grainy texture of the characters meld into intensely bright and vivid action. I felt like my eyeballs were being cooked in the climax. I suppose it's a price worth paying for Spider-Man greatness. A hilarious after credits scene sets up an intriguing sequel.