By Mario Ricciardi
Let me tell you, when you’ve gone out to eat twice in one week, had to buy snacks from Williamson’s cafe because you woke up too late to pack snacks three different times and both Spotify and Adobe send you their bills, the dollar theater can be a great place to go. Most of the time, I avoid looking at the dollar theater showtimes because I know I spent three times the amount to see the same movies two months ago.
So, with my financial situation last week and very little left in my wallet to spend, I checked the times at the dollar theater. Luckily, a movie I have not already seen that I forgot I had wanted to see was playing: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Ugh. What? Another Spider-Man movie?
Yep. That makes seven Spider-Man movies out there in the world for us to watch, and you know what I’m not even complaining. “Into the Spider-Verse” is sweet. First and foremost, the two-hour film was made entirely in Photoshop. To put things to scale, it would take two animators one year to create 10 seconds of completed footage. When added up, the film took 800 people four years to complete the film.
For as much that went in behind the scenes, what ends up on screen works pretty well. Not quite the cornucopia of meta-jokes and references that one would have hoped for, the film stays surprisingly grounded. That’s despite the best efforts of the multiple realities and the necessary creative risks made in order to achieve something new in a world that has seen a new Spider-Man movie every two years.
“Into the Spider-Verse” is the story of Miles Morales. He is a New York teenager who gets bitten by a radioactive spider, has an uncle who dies (spoiler alert, but not really) and learns that with great power comes great responsibility. You’d think that another Spider-Man origin story bogs down the film, but it provides a grounded buffer zone for keeping up with the five alternate reality Spider-Mans from five different dimensions.
Miles’ story takes place in an alternate dimension where things are only one step to the side of our reality, well at least our Spider-Man’s reality. Where most animated films work to mimic real life, “Into the Spider-Verse” seized the creative opportunity to style their film like a comic book.
The finished product is a “Blade Runner”-esque combination of cinematic darks and vibrant colors. This look helps to reinforce a story that at times is fun and lighthearted, but at others doesn’t shy away from serious real-world ramifications.
Ultimately, the film serves as a reflection of how real-world sorrows can be easily digested through animation. That combination is what earned the production the best animated feature Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards.
Not to be that guy, but I was super happy it beat out Disney with “Wreck-It Ralph 2” and Disney Pixar with “The Incredibles 2.” A real underdog story. Then again, Disney owns Marvel which owns “Spider-Man,” so I guess it’s really not a victory against the mega-company after all. It’s still a pretty sweet movie though.
???? (4/5 Penguins)