Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2018. Sony Pictures Entertainment, Columbia Pictures Corporation, Marvel Entertainment, Avi Arad Productions, Lord Miller, Pascal Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation. Story by Phil Lord, Screenplay by Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman, story consultant Meghan Malloy, based on Spider-Verse created by Dan Slott and characters created by Peter David, Steve Ditko, David Hine, Stan Lee, Brian Michael Bendis, Gerard Way, Jason Latour, Rick Leonardi, Fabrice Sapolsky, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Tom DeFalco, Mark Bagley, Jake Wyatt, Sara Pichelli, Robbi Rodriguez. Produced by Avi Arad, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Amy Pascal, Christina Steinberg. Music by Daniel Pemberton. Production Design by Justin Thompson. Film Editing by Robert Fisher Jr.. Academy Awards 2018. Golden Globe Awards 2018. New York Film Critics 2018.
Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is a high school kid whose cop father (Brian Tyree Henry) and nurse mother (Luna Lauren Velez) have high expectations, sending him to a private school to give him a better chance at a promising future. Miles gravitates more to his free-spirited uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), who at the beginning of this wondrously animated film shows him an abandoned subway station where the young man can work on his graffiti art. While doing so, Miles is bitten by a radioactive spider and is suddenly gifted with arachnid abilities, an odd thing to happen considering there already is a Spider-Man swinging through the streets of the city. Even more confusing is that the evil Kingpin (voiced by Liev Schreiber) has opened up a portal to other dimensions that has sucked a whole bunch of alternate Spider-people into Miles’ life, including a Spider-Gwen, an anime character, a film noir version of the superhero (voiced effectively by Nicolas Cage), a Looney Tune version and the Peter Parker known on our present-day Earth. Miles must team up with a far more cynical and flabby Spider-Man than the one he knew (voiced by an excellent Jake Johnson), and together they rush to put the universe back in order by closing the device that has caused this rift being worlds; the problem is that Miles has self-esteem issues and needs some help believing that he is capable of helping others when he has so much trouble figuring himself out. The plotting is a bit more complicated than it needs to be, but the visual energy of this movie is incredible, vibrant and beautiful from beginning to end while very expertly riding a fine and dangerous line: the characters are fun and the film has more than its fair share of good-natured humour, but there’s a dark and dangerous edge to everything that gives the experience a menacing bite that lingers just beneath the surface.