Movie Review | Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Movie summary: Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his reality and crosses paths with his counterparts from other dimensions to stop a threat to all reality. (IMDb)
Into the Spider-Verse is ultimately a bit of a mess of a movie, even if it is thoroughly enjoyable, and this is perhaps best exemplified by the fact that Miles Morales, the central character, is overshadowed by other Spider-people.
That's not to say that Miles (voiced by Shameik Moore) is a poor or dull character, but that the others are simply more enjoyable and make you want to spend more time with them. This is mainly due to the fact that Miles doesn't have a particularly interesting character arc.
He plays out a pretty generic origin story that hits all the beats you'd expect it to, and just can't stand up to the characters - namely Peter B. Parker and Gwen Stacy - who get their backstories done and dusted in a single sequence each, leaving us to enjoy their more developed personalities.
I don't know if this was really the best way to introduce Miles Morales to audiences, as he does get over-shadowed, and there is just so much going on that it really doesn't do him justice - there's a female Spider-hero 'side-quel' coming, but I'm hoping Miles gets a sequel of his own where he can be the undisputed star of the show.
Into the Spider-Verse really does suffer from trying to do a little too much with too many characters, and it feels occasionally like certain events happen - or certain characters have been included - just because they could be done, rather than because they should've been.
This reaches its nadir in the finale, which is a jumble of nonsensical visuals - narratively appropriate because of the reality-bending machine that brought all the different Spider-people together in the first place, but it's all just too busy and it becomes easy to tune during the action.
It's a shame because the movie looks absolutely phenomenal for the massive majority of the time, but there are just some sequences where a little restraint could've gone a long way. The sound work could do with the same, and lines are missed easily because of how much noise is going on.
In other words, there's a lot of stuff here that would've been better served in live-action, because it would've forced the people behind the movie to rein themselves in a bit, including with the action, which is probably my last major issue with Into the Spider-Verse.
There are two moments of violence, both perpetrated by Kingpin, that result in characters dying. Yet, there are sequences where characters take far greater punishment and come out without a scratch, with everything feeling like a Looney Tunes cartoon where no-one really gets hurt.
It's a little jarring, and makes the majority of the action feel more than a little pointless - especially with how cluttered the screen can get during these sequences. Less definitely would've been more here, although the violence carrying so little impact does make those deaths shocking - albeit in an unsatisfying manner for me.
Now, that might sound like a lot of criticism and it is - that's a few hundred words that make it sound like I really didn't enjoy Into the Spider-Verse at all. The thing is, this is again one of those occasions where everything I haven't mentioned is good, if not great.
Much like what makes the Marvel Cinematic Universe work so well is that all the characters that do get at least a decent amount of screen-time are really well-written and brilliantly performed to boot. Like I said above, Miles does get over-shadowed by the alternate Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, but he's still great fun to spend time with.
The events he goes through might be pretty predictable, but that doesn't stop them being executed well enough to remain entertaining, especially with the interactions of the Spider-Gang and the different personalities they all have despite their common power sets.
It does help that the movie's very funny too, with every member of the Spider-Gang getting either some great lines, or a little character quirk, such as the black-and-white Spider-Man Noir's fascination with the colours of a Rubik's Cube. Spider-Ham's humour is a little more cartoony in nature, but there's a wide enough range of humour for pretty much anyone to enjoy.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a fun film, but there's just too much going on for anything to really hit home, especially with Miles being overshadowed in his own movie. And, while most of the stylised visuals are phenomenal, sometimes the screen just looks cluttered and messy rather than cool and I can definitely see its unique visual approach to Spidey turning off some viewers.