There have been so many Spider-Man movies, but it looks like the new animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is unlike any we've ever seen. And according to critics, that's a very good thing. These first reviews of the movie that opens Dec. 14 are so positive, that I couldn't help but check if tickets were available at my favorite theater.
The film, which stars Shameik Moore as the voice of Miles Morales, turns the Spider-Man world on its head with a multitude of Spideys, including Spider-Gwen, and a sense of purpose that some recent spider-films (Venom) were missing.
Here's what critics have to say about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
In her review at Polygon, Susana Polo pays respect to how Spider-Verse juggles its myriad characters.
"As a story, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse lives up to the hype, offering a classic coming-of-age narrative with a twist that only a comic book universe could provide."
"Explaining six separate Spider-Man origin stories in one movie has no right to be as fun, fresh or seamless as Spider-Verse makes it, a feat accomplished through the use of a slick repeating visual motif, specific character writing and great acting."
"Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse makes humor and exhilaration the primary emotions associated with being a superhero. It never lets you forget that wittiness is among Peter Parker’s greatest powers, it never misses a chance to have a character walk casually along a wall for the sake of it and when Miles finally learns to swing a web you feel the joy of his accomplishment."
Molly Freeman's review at Screen Rant posits that Spider-Verse's talent cast of voice actors is as important as its amazing animation.
"Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse offers nearly two-hours of stunning and altogether captivating animation that's beautifully rendered to bring the superhero origin story of Miles Morales — and the Spider-Verse — to life in a never-before-seen manner."
"One of the more unique aspects of Into the Spider-Verse, though, is the movie's animation style. In addition to the 3D animation typical of Sony projects, Into the Spider-Verse also employs multiple comic book styles and textures. From the text boxes used to show Miles' thoughts after he's granted super-powers to the various techniques used to render each of the Spider-People from other dimensions, the movie carefully crafts every layer of the animation."
"Moore is also supported by an exceptionally talented voice cast, including [Brian Tyree] Henry as Miles' tough, but loving father and [Mahershala] Ali as Miles' uncle Aaron - a character comic fans will know is key to Miles' origin story. Moore, Henry and Ali ground Into the Spider-Verse with their familial dynamic and heart, which contrasts well with the largely humorous turns of [Nicolas] Cage, [John] Mulaney and [Kimiko] Glenn."
"Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse does retread the same ground as other big-screen superhero origin stories, so many of which have hit theaters over the last two decades that viewers may have grown tired of them."
EW's Darren Franich wanted the film to spend less time with the aging Spider-Man and more time with Miles Morales.
"The look of Spider-Verse feels fresh. The wall-to-wall soundtrack is fun. The first act successfully conjures a feeling of community and family history around its new superhero."
"The other Spider-people hail from loopier worlds: A cheerful kid-bot with futurepunk Japanime affectations, a Looney Tunes-ish costumed swine, a grimacing monochromatic noir Spidey with the power to generate moody windgusts through his moody trenchcoat. The latter is voiced by Nicolas Cage, whose perfect line readings belong in a museum."
"Spider-Verse‘s Peter Parker talks a big cynical game: Listening to one villain’s big bad speech, he mutters that it’s all pretty standard Spider-Man stakes. But you feel the buddy mechanisms grinding as soon as he agrees to be Miles’ Spider-Man coach. In this sense, Spider-Verse is a spiritual sidequel to the Deadpool films, another holier-than-thou snarkfest inviting you to laugh at superhero tropes without ever once challenging those tropes."
"But you start to feel the 10-car-pileup of this movie’s intentions when the other Spideys show up. Spider-Verse has three credited directors, which seems like a lot even for a cartoon. It was co-written by Phil Lord, half the animation braintrust behind the LEGO series, and I’m not sure the resulting film ever fully decides whether it’s a full-fledged LEGO Batman-y goof or a sincere attempt to Make A Statement about what Spider-Man means."
The Los Angeles Times
The LA Times' Justin Chang seemingly went into Spider-Verse with a case of superhero movie fatigue, and found his condition cured by the film's inventive tendencies.
"On paper, the movie sounds entirely superfluous: It dreams up an entirely new storyline set in a parallel-universe New York and introduces an exhausting cross-dimensional cluster of Spidey-heroes. And to my chagrin, it’s terrific — a quick-witted entertainment, daring and familiar by turns, that also proves to be sweet, serious and irreverent in all the right doses."
"At the center of that origin story is Miles Morales, a smart Brooklyn teenager and instantly winning creation voiced by Shameik Moore (Dope). The New York that Miles inhabits springs to life in images that feel both vividly real and gloriously, proudly cartoonish, combining the vibrant, hyperreal texture of CG animation and the sharp, angular quality of classic comic-book panels."
"And while there is plenty to mock here — Lord and Rothman’s script gets in some choice digs at Peter Parker’s relationship issues — what distinguishes Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in the end is that it takes its mission seriously, even when it’s being transparently silly."
At IndieWire, David Ehrlich's review is a glowing ode to how Spider-Verse oozes with style and charisma.
"Tragic news for anyone who’s sick of superhero movies: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse completely reinvigorates the genre, reaffirms why it’s resonating with a diverse modern audience that’s desperate to fight the power, and reiterates to us how these hyper-popular spandex myths are able to reinvent themselves on the fly whenever things get stale."
"Screenwriters Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman (the latter of whom is also one of the film’s three co-directors) are more than happy to remind you of all the Spider-Men you have seen before, as things kick off with a funny meta-textual prologue that gently mocks the character’s propensity for being rebooted (Into the Spider-Verse is almost as self-aware as Deadpool, and considerably more clever about it)."
"But the film’s wild and contradictory aesthetic — elements of which clash against each other like some kind of dissonant cartoon jazz — dazzlingly explodes the outmoded idea that superhero movies have to look a certain way."
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Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.