Movies

Movie review: ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

Frenetic animated adventure tops conventional cartoons — and a lot of live ones too

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 12/14/18

The new feature, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” pretty much puts to shame all of the animated super-hero fare in our own lowly universe.

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Movies

Movie review: ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

Frenetic animated adventure tops conventional cartoons — and a lot of live ones too

Posted

The new feature, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” pretty much puts to shame all of the animated superhero fare in our own lowly universe.

Sure, artistically driven indie fare has made certain inroads with regard to innovation and experimentation, but probably due to Sony Pictures’ enormous confidence in the marketability of this film by throwing 140 animators into the mix, this new movie just plain rocks.

Maybe it was a dig, maybe it wasn't, but my own pet peeve about the more recent  Spider-Man movies is that most seemed to insist on redoing the origin story as if they needed to fill a desperate yearning to stamp their work as the original Spider-Man. But, here, in this big budget hyperkinetic animation film that looks at Spidey from several different dimensions, we're given several different origins, each with a similar but different take on Peter Parker’s fateful encounter with a radioactive spider.

The movie though isn’t a compendium of all the different ways Spider-Man might turn out if plucked from a variety of alternate dimensions — an explanation for which might alone send some young audiences to hit Google and dive into the vast and incredibly mind-bending subject first posed by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1952.

That’s a big nope. More likely, they might become more enamored of the animator’s art, which fills the screen with breathtaking feats of graphic illustrator’s amazement to swell the hearts of art teachers everywhere.

The movie’s main focus is an inner city kid named Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), whose dad, Jefferson Davis (Brian Tyree Henry), is an NYPD cop and his hardworking mom, Rio Morales (Luna Lauren Velez), a nurse. His folks want the best for him and have enrolled Miles in a private school where he can be given opportunities unavailable in his gritty old public school.

Miles, though, is a kid steeped in street culture and sees the new school as elitist. Part of that comes from his dad’s ne’er-do-well brother, Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), whom Miles worships. Still, he obeys his folks and gives it a shot.

In the meantime, Spider-Man is out there in the city doing Spider-Man stuff  until one day when his ticket gets punched and suddenly the City That Never Sleeps is knocked for a loop. But, when Miles runs into the supposedly dead Spider-Man (Jake Johnson) and discovers reality has been pushed to strange new limits, things get really weird — especially, when he himself gets popped by that aforementioned pesky little spider.

Much of the skewed universe is due to the antics of super-villain Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber), who has built a particle accelerator that has the power to wreck time-space reality all in an effort to be reunited with his dead wife and son.

Things don’t happen exactly that way, but you’ll get the gist if you see this movie. Inspired by the efforts of previous and alternative Spider-Men, Miles finds he has really big tights to fill now that he’s given the task to find a way to prevent the mother of all disasters to happen.

This movie is amazing to watch. Its multi-layered, fast-paced imagery may be hard to watch at times, but that’s only because every moment, every frame is packed with visual information.

Putting this movie together must have been a visual artist’s dream. Besides finding new ways to tell a story, the animators also found a way to pay homage to the comic book illustrator’s art, literally showing in some scenes how sometimes the color separations in a printed page might be a little off.

The new Spider-Man movie is fun to watch and will probably make you want to watch it again and again, something the late Stan Lee would’ve loved.

Additional voice talents include Nicolas Cage, Lily Tomlin, Kathryn Hahn, Hailee Steinfeld, Zoë Kravitz and Chris Pine. The film was directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman. It is dedicated to the memories of Spider-Man creators Steve Ditko and Stan Lee.

Tempo grade: B+

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is rated PG for frenetic sequences of animated action violence, thematic elements, and mild language.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

At Eternity’s Gate

MPAA rating: PG-13 for some thematic content

Taos Community Auditorium

Academy Award nominee Julian Schnabel's film is a journey inside the world and mind of a person who, despite skepticism, ridicule and illness, created some of the world's most beloved and stunning works of art.

This is not a forensic biography, but rather scenes based on Vincent van Gogh's (Willem Dafoe) letters, common agreement about events in his life that present as facts, hearsay, and moments that are just plain invented.

This film will be screened at 7 p.m. Monday through Sunday (Dec. 17-23), with a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 22-23) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

Mortal Engines

MPAA rating: PG-13 for sequences of futuristic violence and action

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres

Hundreds of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, a mysterious young woman, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), emerges as the only one who can stop London — now a giant, predator city on wheels — from devouring everything in its path. Feral, and fiercely driven by the memory of her mother, Hester joins forces with Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), an outcast from London, along with Anna Fang (Jihae), a dangerous outlaw with a bounty on her head.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

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