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“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is the best animated film of the year

It’s a good time to be a fan of Spider-Man as a cinematic character. Marvel and Sony have teamed up on a new live action incarnation of the character that is part of the MCU. Then, there’s the animated side of things. Opening this week, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse offers up a whole new take on the character, and I’m here to tell you that it’s phenomenal. Throw all of the Spidey-centric hyperbole out there into the ether. This is an amazing and spectacular tale. Nothing compares to it in terms of 2018 animation. Moreover, it’s simply one of the best films of the year.

The movie is like a comic book come to animated life. That only scratches the surface though of what this truly is. Our protagonist is Miles Morales (voice of Shameik Moore), a young boy living in Brooklyn. He’s a fan of Spider-Man (voice of Chris Pine), something his police officer father Jefferson Davis (voice of Brian Tyree Henry) disapproves of. When Miles is bitten by a superpower-filled spider while out with his uncle Aaron (voice of Mahershala Ali), he receives the abilities of Spidey as well. However, when he crosses paths with the web slinger, it’s at a time when a rip in the fabric of the universe has opened up. This leads to other Spider-Men and women entering his world from other universes. The less said about the plot, the better, but trust me that it’s a blast. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are on hand as main producers, while the trio of Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman co-direct (Lord and Rothman wrote the screenplay). Among the amazing voice cast supporting players are Nicolas Cage, Kimiko Glenn, Kathryn Hahn, Oscar Isaac, Jake Johnson, Zoë Kravitz, John Mulaney, Liev Schreiber, Hailee Steinfeld, Jorma Taccone, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, plus of course, a cameo by Stan Lee. Daniel Pemberton provides a wonderful score. Everyone is doing stupendous work here.

It’s hard to fully explain just how glorious this is. In one fell swoop, this film has set a whole new standard for how you tell an animated story. There’s nothing else like it. Adventure, heart, humor, meta commentary, it’s all there. Lord and Miller have a certain vibe to their work, but this is something entirely new from them. They essentially “break” animated film. The movie works on so many levels, it’s kind of incredible. Miles Morales is a winning character, while the voice performances are all around strong. It’s nearly a perfect flick. This was an absolute joy to discover. You’ll be astounded at the visuals, and that’s just scratching the surface.

Oscar should take serious notice of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Not only is it looking good for a nomination in the Best Animated Feature category, it’s actually a threat to take home the Academy Award. In a perfect world, it would even be contending for citations in Best Picture, Best Director (for Persichetti, Ramsey, and Rothman), Best Adapted Screenplay (for Lord and Rothman), and Best Visual Effects. More likely, it’ll have to settle just for Animated Feature, but it’s hardly a filler nominee. Pixar has a stranglehold on this category, but if there’s an upset brewing, Spidey could be where it’s at. Trust me, it has the goods to make a real play for the win.

This weekend, audiences are about to be blown away by Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, that much is for sure. With incredibly unique visuals, a true feel for the character(s), originality pouring out of every fiber of its being, and the sense that you’ve never seen anything like this before, it’s a special flick. If this is the start of a whole new spinoff franchise for Sony, they may well have struck gold. Lord and Miller broke new ground with The LEGO Movie, and this does so to an even stronger degree. Prepare to have your mind fully blown when you lay eyes on this. It’s a must see. You can thank me later…

Be sure to check out Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, in theaters everywhere on Friday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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