2010s, 3/4, Review

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse

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Bright colors and a sense of fun really do help a movie, don’t they?

I don’t have anything against dark and gritty comic book movies, but there is certainly plenty of room for colorful popcorn entertainment in the space (a space I’m largely over).

Our central character, Miles Morales, is great. He’s got a great mix of self-doubt, impulses towards heroism, and everyman awkwardness to make him both likeable and someone to root for when he gets bitten by his radioactive spider (from the multi-verse, I guess). He, combined with the fun and light tone that pushes the story forward, really makes the movie a good time, despite some flaws.

The biggest flaw really is the character of his uncle. He’s introduced early as one of two father figures Miles has (the uncle and his actual father). The uncle lives his own life by his own rules, taking Miles to graffiti different spots around New York. His one scene with Miles is actually quite nice, but, SPOILERS, he turns out to be one of about 5 bad guys in the movie. He then dies super quickly after that, at about the halfway point of the movie. The build up of the uncle as a character is too short, and the death happens too early to really be of any real emotional value, undermining the emotional turning point of the movie because it’s simply not strong enough.

This lends itself to the movie’s other flaw, which is the overall busyness of it. There’s a lot going on that acts as a distraction to the story. The multiple bad guys and the multiple versions of Spider-Man (who are mostly quite enjoyable in the small bits we get) combine to create chaos that distracts from Miles’ actual story, which I really like overall.

The core of Miles’ story is his relationship with his father, though. The uncle is a sideshow, ultimately, a means to getting the deep emotional moment between father and son that Miles needs in order to go from bumbling amateur to the next real Spider-Man. It’s fine as a narrative technique, but the uncle just simply isn’t handled well enough.

Gosh, I tend to complain about movies that I do actually enjoy, but the thing is I found this movie good, but not great, and I wanted it to be great. So, when I see the movie make, what I believe to be, rather simple missteps, my mind jumps into overdrive about what could have been done to fix it.

And yet, I really do enjoy the whole package. The color schemes (the pinks, blues, and greens) are a refreshing change of pace. The light tone is fun. The ending has a lot of imagination going for it as multiple versions of New York begin to manifest in the same place. The central story (a modestly well done hero journey wrapped up in fancy clothes) is handled well, and Miles is a great central character. The other Spider-Men are pretty universally fun. Gosh…I largely just wished they had worked that uncle character into the movie better.

Netflix Rating: 4/5

Quality Rating: 3/4

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3 thoughts on “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse”

  1. “I tend to complain about movies that I do actually enjoy”

    I think that’s true of everyone. When something genuinely resonates with us (as opposed to being just clever or well-made) we tend to “take its side” and want it to be better, really to justify our enjoyment.

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    1. Or, I just can’t let myself be happy…

      I look at my review and see that the majority of it is me complaining about a movie that I genuinely enjoy, and it kind of confuses me. I don’t think it’s a justification, but more of an automatic impulse.

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      1. I think it’s more that the flaws in something we enjoy bother us more than those in something we dislike or are indifferent to. We wish the flaws weren’t there, and because we like the movie and want to “help” it, we try to fix those flaws (“If only they’d put in a line that would explain X.”) in a kind of an alternate version. And of course there’s the idea that the next film will include those fixes. I’ve done this many times with movies that were great and just this close to being perfect.

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