A lot has been said about this film already. It’s not even out yet in the UK. Film Twitter has been calling it the best Spider-Man film we’ve had yet, whilst others have said it’s the best since Spider-Man 2. That’s the level of variation, for the most part. It’s been described with levels of hyperbole that make ‘hype’ seem something of an understatement. Today, two days before it’s UK wide release, it currently has 67 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes which have placed it at 100% fresh. Can it really be *that* good?
Miles Morales is pretty much a typical teenage boy. Having recently moved school, he’s struggling to match up his Brooklyn identity with his weekday-boarding school. His relationship with his cop dad isn’t coping well with the move either; Miles feels alone. Luckily he has his beloved Uncle who fully understands him. Late one night, when Miles and his Uncle are hanging out, Miles gets bitten by a spider and develops his own spider-powers. But, when the criminal overlord Kingpin messes with parallel dimensions, Miles will discover he really isn’t alone.
Short answer – yes it is. It really, really, well and truly, is that good. This is one film that could be shown to any animation naysayers who doubt the emotional potency that can be achieved through ‘a series of still images put together to create the illusion of movement’ (Hello to Jason Isaacs). It’s hard to describe just how well the film fleshes out and develops its cast. A fact that is made even more remarkable when you consider just how big the cast is. Miles crosses paths with many of his spider-counterparts, all of whom you feel as if you get to know and enjoy getting to know. Jake Johnson (aka Nick from New Girl) is excellent as a Peter Parker who is older and far more cynical than the Peter we otherwise know. He has a great brother/fatherly relationship with Miles (voiced so earnestly by Shameik Moore) that grows so naturally and believably. Discussing any more of the voice cast might spoil some surprises that await you when you surely watch this film.
What elevates (a pretentious turn of expression yet arguably needed in the year of Venom) this from most mainstream superhero/animation fare is the film’s unique voice and look. There’s a perfect balance between humour and pathos, a regular stream of jokes occasionally intersected with moments of real heart. It’s something that DC seems to still be struggling with. A film that is entirely ‘dark’ isn’t moody, it’s murky. A blend of light and shade makes the funny moments funnier and the sadder moments that much sadder. Again, I’m loath to refer to any specific moments in too much detail as I am determined not to spoil anything. All I will say is, the jokes from the trailer/s are only the beginning!
Admittedly the film doesn’t just have ‘light’ – it has a kadelosopic approach to it’s colour palette that is worthy of much admiration. It’s mesmerizing, hallucinogenic and very beautiful. It, like the film overall, is supremely unique; bright, clashing, real yet unreal and as full of depth as the film’s story. It’s a risk that truly pays off.
Fresh, confident and wild. There’s life in the old spider yet.