Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

This is animation like you've never seen it before. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a strange and wonderful creature, from its fresh spin on the shopworn Spider-Man film franchise, to its mouthful of a title, to its trio of credited directors (apparently necessary, given the amount of work put into the film), to its look that I can only describe as "2.5-D computer animation": not flat like old-school Disney, yet not realistically rendered like a Pixar film. This is a comic book brought to life and taken on an acid trip.

As part of the film's overall sense of newness, Spider-Verse introduces us to a character heretofore unseen on film: Miles Morales, a half-black, half-Latin kid who made his print debut in 2011 as a replacement Spidey after the death of Peter Parker. Spider-Verse kicks off more or less with Peter's death and Miles's life-altering spider bite, then quickly takes a left turn into sci fi with a plot involving Spidey villain Kingpin (voiced by Liev Schreiber) opening up quantum realms in an attempt to bring back his dead wife and son. And thus an out-of-shape, middle-aged Peter Parker unwittingly pops in from an alternate universe, and reluctantly agrees to train Miles while attempting to stop Kingpin and his perilous technology.

To reveal more would be to spoil the fun, although the film's marketing makes it clear enough that Peter Parker is not the only character to drift in from an alternate universe. I'll leave it at that.

In any event, the plot mechanics are secondary to the film's spectacular, often psychedelic visuals. Using comics-inspired halftone dots and hatching to add shading and texture to the proceedings, the directors have crafted a truly unique graphic look. The resulting assault on the retinas will be too much for some, and at times I felt like I was just too old for this movie. Still, it's an astoundingly impressive work, one that has more in common with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World or even Enter the Void than with any other animated and/or superhero film. In comparison, Incredibles 2 feels creaky and out of touch.