Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is pure exhilaration. The movie brilliantly manages to add to the Spider-Man mythos in an exciting way while also skewering many of the cliches we've all come to expect after over a half dozen live-action movies and multiple origin stories.
For starters, the animation is smooth, vibrant, and full of kinetic energy. Comic panels or thought bubbles pop up when characters are using their inner monologue in a way that makes it really feel like you're watching a comic book. Other movies have tried to replicate the look of comics in the past, but Spider-Verse has arguably found the most successful and least distracting way of doing so.
It's also hilariously weird, which is to be expected considering it was crafted into existence by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who are no strangers to directing funny stuff, be it in animation or live-action. I'll admit that I was initially wary of the inclusion of Spider-Ham and Peni Parker, but for some reason, it's all explained here in a way that just works. What I was most taken aback by though, was how moving Spider-Verse is. There are multiple scenes that pull at the ol' heartstrings which I won't spoil here.
While Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has a ton of great things going for it, it's the budding relationship between Peter and Miles that definitely stands out as the highlight. For the first two-thirds of the film, Miles takes on more of a sidekick role to Spider-Man, reminiscent of the miniseries Spider-Men from 2012, learning the ropes from the older, more experienced (and thicker) Peter Parker.
We've seen heroes come into their own before, learning how to use their powers and so on, but here, with Peter coaching Miles along the way, there's just so much more fun to be had than say, Batman, for example. Where Bruce Wayne as a mentor has always come across as emotionally distant, like a father you can never impress, older Spider-Man is cautious and funny, yet still lovingly supportive in a way that really gives Miles the confidence to step out of that sidekick role and become his own hero by the end of the movie.
Also — no spoilers, but the first Stan Lee cameo in a Spider-Man movie since his passing couldn't be more perfect. It's poignant and bittersweet, and when he came on screen, the entire theater erupted in applause.
Overall, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse isn't just a fun movie; it's one of the best Spider-Man movies you're likely to ever see. Spider-Man 2 from the Sam Raimi days has long been my favorite Spider-Man movie, but I think it's finally been been moved to second place -- though I'm going to have to watch Spider-Verse at least four or five more times to be sure.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is scheduled to release in theaters on December 14, 2018.