'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' is surprisingly fantastic

    "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" (Photo: Sony)

    “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
    4 out of 5 Stars
    Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey
    Writer: Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman, Brian Michael Bendis (characters), Sara Pichelli (characters), Steve Ditko (characters), David Hine (characters), Stan Lee (characters), Fabrice Sapolsky (characters)
    Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali
    Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure
    Rated: PG for frenetic sequences of animated action violence, thematic elements, and mild language

    SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Synopsis: Miles Morales takes up the role Spider-Man from an aging Peter Parker as the lines between the various dimensions of reality collide.

    Review: Hollywood and fan culture have become so obsessed with building universes out of multiple franchises that sometimes the filmmakers forget to focus on the film they are making because all they can see is the mirage of promised profits off in the distance.

    Being an animated film, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” has the distinct privilege of being a film that needn’t be instantly placed in one universe or another. It’s as free as a well-established character that was introduced in 1962 can get. Which, considering the use of a multi-dimensional plot device, is far freer to do whatever it likes without having to be overly concerned about how this story fits in with a dozen other films with a dozen other directors and two dozen different writers with similar, but not necessarily cohesive, ideas about the ins and outs of the sandbox that they are all sharing.

    Liberated from its need to be a part of something, what is the first thing that “Into the Spider-Verse” does? It acknowledges all the variations of Spider-Man that we’ve seen in the past two decades and directly integrates them into the narrative. What universe does this Spider-Man take place in? All of them. All the stories you know and a few that you probably have never seen.

    At the core of the film is Miles Morales, an Afro-Latino high school student, who is asked to take on the role of Spider-Man when the Spider-Man of his universe is killed. He’s game, but not entirely prepared to take on the great responsibility that comes with being a hero.

    Too bad evil doesn’t wait for anyone to catch their breath.

    “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” has a somewhat convoluted storyline involving multiple versions of Spider-Man from various dimensions teaming together, but the story is presented in such a simple and straightforward way that it never becomes confusing. That in and of itself is a triumph. The animation style is a mix of digital and hand-drawn styles that gives the film a radically different feel from any other animated film out there. It is beautiful and bold, funny and wicked smart.

    It’s also the front runner for Best Animated Picture at the upcoming Oscars. Yes, it is that good.

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