Hello, everyone that clicked! Since I can’t help but talk like a pro critic whenever I see a new movie, I figured that I might as well act like one just for the hell of it. And boy, did I ever pick a gem for my first review. Let’s talk about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse.
Halleluiah! Sony’s finally done it. Sony Animation’s finally done it! They’ve made a good Spider-Man movie! Rejoice!
Oh, it feels so good to be able to type that down. I used to cringe when I saw Sony’s logo pop on the screen at the start of a movie. Given their filmography, that used to be a red flag that made other red flags reconsider their choices.
I’m just gonna do a recap real quick. Sony Pictures Animation was founded in 2002 and released its first feature film (Open Season) in 2006. They didn’t really start out strong, and they largely stayed around that level of quality for the rest of their existence, with a nice exception here and there.
Now, I might sound like a hater here, but I really do want them to succeed. I want every studio to make great movies! So imagine my joy stepping out of the cinema after witnessing Sony’s badass blockbuster.
I won’t lie. I was scared coming into this. As I’ve mentioned, Sony does not have a great rep with this stuff. They’ve been tripping over themselves since 2012 trying to emulate the Marvel Cinematic Universe and cash in that super-dough. This has led to not one, but two lackluster Spidey films. And who could ever forget the Venom stinger in which they got Woody Harrelson as Ronald McDonald to stare down the camera and shout “We’re making a sequel, and you’re gonna like it! Understand?!”
So, imagine my concern when their next Spidey film literally referenced a universe in the title? Thankfully, the trailers were all gorgeous enough to pique my interest. By the time the last trailer came out, I had thought it was going to effectively be The Lego Spider-Man Movie. Just a great big parody littered with Easter eggs for all the long-time fans. (Spoiler-alert, I was only partially right.)
So maybe it wasn’t another scramble for a cinematic universe, but it wasn’t out of the woods just yet. A cheap laughter-fest is just that: cheap. Miles Morales is a respected character in the comic book world, and it’s cool that they finally gave him the big screen, but not cool if it was just because Peter Parker’s had it plenty enough.
Nevertheless, I knew that in order for this movie to avoid the trap that Sony has fallen into time and time again, they needed to remember that this was Miles Morales’ movie.
And boy, did they ever deliver! They managed to make me care about Miles within the first ten minutes! And even though Miles spends a long time just going along for the ride, he carries the film’s climax like a spider-boss.
In fact, there wasn’t a single character in this movie that I didn’t like. That’s really no small feat, especially with such a large roster of diverse characters. The movie was incredibly efficient with its characterization. A lot of the side characters don’t really get much screen-time to themselves. There’s even a point in the movie where THREE origin stories got lapped over each other! And yet, anyone who got the chance to win me over did just that. And even if there was a character that I didn’t care a lot about, they were all enjoyable to watch at least. They even managed to surpass the MCU and gave me villains that I enjoyed.
There are one or two exceptions though. The movie features a lot of villains. From the trailers, you should know that Green Goblin makes an appearance, and he does so rather early in the movie. The problem was that he never showed up again. Like, ever! And then, later on, they introduced one animalistic side villain (no spoilers) that never really had much to do at all. I think that this movie would have been better if they had kept the Green Goblin and scrapped the later villain altogether.
And that right there was my only complaint. Right from the get-go, it was apparent that this film had something that Sony normally didn’t deal in: creativity. The art style is only original, but inspired. The animation is gorgeous! It looked choppy in the trailers, but they really smoothened everything out for the final product. The jokes are funny, and never awkward. Not even the awkward teenager jokes towards the start of the film got me to cringe. The abundant Easter eggs fit nicely into the pacing (by the way, the pacing’s good). The actors all rock their roles too! And the soundtrack works great with the environment.
The movie even remembers to get the small details right! The voice director remembered that Kingpin is from New York, so maybe he should have the accent of a Bond villain. The animators remembered that a lot of people live in The Big Apple, so maybe they should draw in a lot of background characters.
The movie subverts a lot of expectations, as you would expect from a Phil Lord script. It got to the point where I could smell a joke coming once the music got dramatic. But the movie also does a lot of the same old tropes that we come to expect from superhero movies. Stingers, a Stan Lee cameo, hitting a low point before rising up for the final battle. The thing is, the movie manages to do them all better than the competition.
Spider-verse manages to not only parody its own properties, but also carry it to new heights. I can’t think of anything else like it! I loved this movie, and recommend it to everyone of all ages. It’s a 9/10!
Way to make it this far down the wall of text. That was the review, but now, I’d like to talk about some important behind-the-scenes stuff.
This movie was co-written by Phil Lord, and Rodney Rothman (who was also a director), And I’d like to talk about that for a moment. Phil Lord is one half of the famous Phil Lord/Chris Miller duo, who made a real name for themselves when they wrote and directed The Lego Movie (2014), a movie famous for defying audiences’ expectations and actually being a good film.
If only I could say the same about The Emoji Movie.
But they had been working long before that. They had written and directed Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009), which until now was arguably Sony Animation’s greatest work. They had also directed Sony’s Jump Street movies, which also featured Rothman as a writer.
Lord & Miller are undeniably talented, and the higher-ups at Sony know this. A few years ago, Sony attempted to recruit them to run their animation department. It turns out, Lord & Miller weren’t interested, and thanks to a certain hacking kerfuffle with North Korea, we know exactly why.
To quote Phil Lord himself: “[Sony’s] artists have been treated like paper, and it’s too hard to do great work there.”
In summary: they noticed the same thing I did. Sony was putting profit before passion, and it was resulting in a bunch of manufactured, mediocre, marketable garbage that was ultimately harming the company.
So why was Phil Lord willing to put his name behind Sony’s with this? Was it pity? Did he just really want to write Spider-Man? Was he bitter and vindictive against Disney after they booted him from the director’s chair of Solo: A Star Wars Story? Hard to say; but one way or another, he came back, and helped Sony make something great!
I think that’s important, because up until now, Sony’s obsession with short-term profits was sending their film studios into a downward spiral, and Spider-verse flies in the face of that trend. The visionary that was too good for the studio came back, and against all the odds, they actually did right by him.
But far be it from me to credit Phil Lord with the success of this film. After all, he was just one of two script-writers. Rodney Rothman was in the director’s chair, along with Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsay. They all did great, along with the animators, the actors, and everyone else who contributed.
So what does that mean? Can we expect Sony to not only recognize what made this film great, but emulate it as well? Can we expect them to turn a new leaf? Well, I won’t hold my breath, but I hope with all my heart that they do. Here’s hoping that years from now, I can walk into Spider-verse 2 with confidence.