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MOVIE REVIEW

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

also known as “Homem-Aranha no Aranhaverso,” “Homem-Aranha: No Universo Aranha,” “Omul-Pãianjen: În lumea pãianjenului,” “Örümcek-Adam: Örümcek Evreninde,” See all »
MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for frenetic sequences of animated action violence, thematic elements, and mild language.

reviewed by: Blake Wilson
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
• Preteens • Teens • Family • Young Adults
Genre:
Animation Superhero 3D Adaptation
Length:
1 hr. 57 min.
Year of Release:
2018
USA Release:
December 14, 2018 (wide)
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

Perseverance / don’t be a quitter / don’t give up

Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

Faith

Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

Be a hero, help save others

What is Christian LOVE? Answer

Learn how to be more effective in evangelism
Stumped about how to share your faith in Christ with others? Our EffectiveEvangelism site assists Christians in effectively reaching out to others with love and truth. Learn about the worldview of the people you meet, ways to share the gospel, read stories submitted by site users, and more.
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

Courage / self-sacrifice

Do the right thing

How can I know what is RIGHT or WRONG? Answer

How can I DISCERN whether a particular activity is wrong? Answer

What is SIN AND WICKEDNESS? Answer

What is GOODNESS? Answer

What is RIGHTEOUSNESS? Answer

Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

The fantasy sci-fi idea of parallel universes (parallel dimensions)

Teen Qs—Christian Answers® for teenagers
Teens—Have questions? Find answers in our TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures
Featuring: Shameik MooreMiles Morales / Spider-Man (voice)
Jake JohnsonPeter B. Parker / Spider-Man (voice)
Nicolas CageSpider-Man Noir (voice)
John MulaneySpider-Ham (voice)
Chris PinePeter Parker (voice)
Hailee SteinfeldGwen Stacy / Spider-Gwen (voice)
Liev SchreiberWilson Fisk / The Kingpin (voice)
Lake BellVanessa Fisk (voice)
Mahershala AliUncle Aaron Davis / Prowler (voice)
Lily TomlinAunt May Parker (voice)
Kimiko Glenn … Peni Parker (voice)
Brian Tyree Henry … Jefferson Davis (voice)
Luna Lauren Velez … Rio Morales (voice)
Zoë KravitzMary Jane (voice)
Kathryn HahnDoc Ock (voice)
Oscar IsaacInteresting Person #1 (voice)
Stan Lee … Stan (voice)
Joaquín CosioScorpion (voice)
See all »
Director: Bob Persichetti
Peter Ramsey
Rodney Rothman
Producer: Columbia Pictures Corporation
Marvel Animation
See all »
Distributor: Distributor: Columbia Pictures. Trademark logo.
Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) is an ordinary New York teenager. He’s started at a new prep school, he loves music, and he has a loving family who has his back. One day, while out with his Uncle Aaron (voiced by Mahershala Ali), Miles gets bitten by a radioactive spider. Then, as you might expect, things begin to get topsy turvy.

A day or two later, Miles curiously ends up in a reactor plant. Here he encounters another Spider-Man trying to fight off Green Goblin and the Kingpin (voiced by Liev Schreiber). Kingpin ignites a machine that opens up different dimensions, with catastrophic results. At the same time, this machine brings in several different versions of “Spider-Man” from the comics. Upon figuring out his own powers, Miles soon meets these heroes, and now needs to try and figure out how to get them all home.

Entertainment Quality

I did my best to remain spoiler-free in describing the plot, as this new version of “Spider-Man” is full of surprises and is impressive in quite a few ways. First is its animation, which is groundbreaking. The visual style mixes 3D computer animation with hand-drawn expressions on the characters. This is meant to help present the feel of a comic book coming to life, and is (mostly) wildly successful. There are a small handful of moments where out-of-focus characters and elements appear a bit blurry (as if you were watching a 3D movie without the glasses), but these moments are thankfully few and far in between.

Another impressive feat is that the film avoids the trap of becoming unfocused in its story. In the midst of several characters, the filmmakers remain focused on Miles’ story. And, for an origin story, to quote one character from the movie, it is definitely “hardcore.” There are several moments where the film succeeds in pulling the heartstrings, and I felt for Miles and what he’s going through. Shameik Moore’s voice performance here is fantastic, bringing the relatable aspects of insecurity and enthusiasm with sincerity.

The voice cast altogether is very strong. As an older Peter Parker, Jake Johnson delivers some of the film’s best lines. Hailee Steinfeld has great chemistry with Moore’s character, while John Mulaney steals the show a handful of times as the hilarious Spider-Ham. Nicolas Cage is perfectly cast for Spider-Man Noir (a black-and-white version of the character, with a couple of very memorable gags), and Ali and Schreiber are pitch perfect for their roles, too. Speaking of Liev Schreiber, his villain is one of the better-developed ones of recent memory. Through a couple of flashbacks, you come to understand why he’s doing something that would sound insane otherwise. In smaller roles, Zoë Kravitz, Chris Pine, Kathryn Hahn and Lily Tomlin each provide a few strong moments.

The hip-hop/synthetic soundtrack is terrific (and never quite overdone). There are several great jokes that earn their laughs. There are several pop-culture references that warrant multiple viewings to really catch all of them (there’s an obvious stab at an infamously unpopular Spider-Man movie that is absolutely hysterical). The film cleverly and wisely shows all the “Spider-Man” characters’ backstories in a hilarious and fun way. The action scenes are spectacular. And Stan Lee is given his best cameo yet in a Marvel film. That may sound a bit impartial, given his recent passing, but it’s one of the best moments in the movie. Speaking of the comic book legend, he’s given an “in memoriam” in the end credits that generated applause from the audience.

On the downside, there’s very little. As fun as they are, I did find the different Spider-Man characters to be a tad underutilized. That may have been intentional, as the filmmakers wanted to stay focused on Miles. However, I left wanting to hear just a little bit more from them. Besides that, a couple of the action scenes do feel like they go on for a little long (but they are still very impressive, especially from a cinematography standpoint).

Positive Messages

The main recurring theme in this movie is perseverance. There are a few moments where Miles is punched down to the ground, and is encouraged to “get up!” Peter Parker even says a couple of times, “Every time I fall down, I always get back up!” This is a very Biblical theme, as God encourages us to keep on moving and plugging away. Life can bring challenges, even ones that we are tempted to believe that we can’t personally overcome. (That’s what Satan wants us to believe, anyway).

That theme applies to the backstories of all the different versions of ”Spider-Man” present here. They all have challenges to deal with, whether it is social awkwardness or personal loss. Yet, they don’t give up and they persevere to become the heroes they are meant to be. And just like Miles and the rest of the characters, Hebrews 10:36 encourages us to persevere through life’s challenges so God can help us become who He intends us to be:

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” —Hebrews 10:36

The film also offers the encouragement of taking a “leap of faith” when it comes to being unsure about ourselves. Miles believably struggles with insecurity, like many do during adolescence. And every time he tries to master his powers, he doubts himself and his abilities. The point is, self-doubt is shown to be an implied antagonist here. And according to the Bible, we all know doubt comes from Satan. In the end, Miles gets the extra boost he needs to believe in himself. In Matthew 21, Jesus lets us know how crippling doubt can be, and how faith truly makes a difference:

“And Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.’” —Matthew 21:21

Of course, there’s a lot of heroism on display here, too. The film encourages the idea that anyone can be a hero. Various characters sacrifice themselves for the good of mankind. Family members make sacrifices for one another. And family members show honest love for each other on multiple occasions. In fact, it is so nice and almost refreshing to have a positive, loving example of a two-parent family in a kids” movie (single parent families and the idea of orphaned kids looking for a family have become pretty much commonplace for family films nowadays).

Negative Content

Foul Language: There are no misuses of the Lord’s name in the film. There is one use of “h***”. Besides that, the strongest the dialogue gets besides that are two uses of “gosh,” one unfinished “what the…?” and some very mild name-calling.

Adult Content: Nothing truly inappropriate. Uncle Aaron gives Miles advice on how to flirt with a girl he’s interested in (by putting a hand on her shoulder and saying in a smooth voice, “Hey”). He does use that advice in one moment. It’s clear he has a crush on Gwen (they don’t do anything beyond a friendly handshake). Miles excuses his emerging Spider-sense as “puberty,” without ever going into any real discussion as to what puberty entails (someone even says, “I don’t even think you know what puberty is!”).

Drugs/Alcohol: None.

Violence: This is the only area of real concern for younger kids. I will say this movie is intense at times for a PG film. There are a handful of somewhat long battle scenes involving punches, kicks, body slams, injuries and a few potentially scary villains. A few surprising, loud and bombastic explosions occur, too. A couple characters are seen with gashes and bruises on their face (with little to no blood). There are a few surprising deaths (one is by gunshot, one at the hands of a supervillain, and two are through a car accident). We see a couple of flashbacks to a villain’s emotional and slightly disturbing past. There is also some slapstick Looney Tunes-style violence courtesy of Spider-Ham.

Other: Near the beginning of the film, Miles does do a little bit of vandalism with his uncle. He also runs away from school and his parents.

Conclusion

From the visually-striking first trailer to the decision to hold advance screenings a week before release, you can tell Sony has confidence in this picture. However, this film also has quite the uphill battle to face here. It’s true that we’ve seen perhaps one Spider-Man movie too many in recent memory. We’ve seen three different live-action versions of the character (including the current one in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), and now we add Miles Morales to the mix. It’s gotten to the point where older audiences may be growing tired of seeing this character on the big screen. However, there’s no doubt that the character remains a popular icon among kids and teens today, mostly because of his relatable backstory and youthful energy.

In a time where originality and creativity are becoming more and more scarce in the film industry, sometimes it takes the right filmmakers to really make a tired franchise feel fresh again. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the talented directorial duo behind “The LEGO Movie” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” have succeeded in doing just that. As producers this time, they helped create a film that feels groundbreaking in its visual style, while creating a story that bravely goes in directions that other animated and live-action superhero films have never dared to go.

Now, will comic book fanatics enjoy this film more than casual moviegoers? Perhaps yes. But, as someone who’s not a reader of comics, this is still one of the most impressive animated efforts I’ve seen in years. In addition to the spectacular visual style, this is also a surprisingly emotional and highly effective character story—one that rivals the best superhero movies. Not to mention it’s also laugh-out-loud funny and clever.

Perhaps the best surprise of this film is that it’s surprisingly clean for a superhero flick. There’s almost no foul language, sexual innuendo or bathroom humor. The only real area of concern here is the action violence. Now, every child is different in what he or she can handle, that is true. But, I wouldn’t recommend this necessarily for ages 8 and under. Some scary villains and surprises could be too much for younger kids. Parents who are unsure if their children are old enough for this should probably watch the movie first themselves before making a decision for the young Spidey fans in the family.

However—for older kids, teens, and movie-loving adults, “Into the Spider-Verse” is a blast and definitely worth watching on the big screen, providing a great, clever story and fantastic animation and strong Biblical messages.

  • Violence: Heavy
  • Profane language: None
  • Vulgar/Crude language: None
  • Nudity: None
  • Sex: None
  • Occult: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Casual movie-goers and old people beware: unless you’re a major fanatic of the Spider-Man comic books and multiverse lore, you likely won’t understand a thing that goes on in this movie. I, myself, am a huge nerd, and even I found myself puzzled as to what was going on at times.

The movie’s quality of being somewhat difficult to follow is one of my three complaints—the second one being how the action sequences are so quickly paced, one can find their eyeballs darting all over the theater room, and the third one being ***SPOILER*** how a particular and beloved character (whom we all know and love—and I presume is the legitimate character from the real common Marvel universe) had to die horribly and tragically. ***END SPOILER***

And with that said, I must now state what I absolutely LOVED. First of all, the comic book-style animation is beautiful. Sony Animation delivered this flick excellently, creating a world of bright color and astonishing visuals, and characters whose designs I adore.

Dealing with the characters” personalities and emotions, I’d say that everything that was portrayed was done so with scenario accuracy; I really felt sympathy for the characters during their times of struggle and grief, and happy during their times of joy and happiness. Some of the multiple added villains were sort of unnecessary to the plot, but their epic designs were worth the screentime they took up.

All in all, I’d say it’s a really good movie. The audience who will really enjoy this film for everything that it tries to be will likely be teens and hardcore comic book geeks. Like I’ve said, it may come off as just a tad bit puzzling for some people, but it is definitely a movie that should be at least looked into.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Shilo
Positive—This is a wonderful and fun movie to watch from beginning to end. I must say that there is one very strong violent scene that makes me say that children under 11 years old should not see it. There are a few “Oh my Gosh,” but no profanity and no taking the Lord’s name. I cannot say too much because I think it would spoil it. I feel that parents of young teens and older teens should see this with their children.

The movie tells about Miles Morales coming to terms with his spider powers. He has to help three other spider people and a spider pig get back to their own dimensions because a portal was opened causing them to get into the present one.

The humor in this film was so well written. I was surprised that the animation was good, as well as the script. Entertainment can be fun with a clean script. We don’t have to be assaulted with profanity and then make us believe this is entertaining. This picture is entertaining without resort to potty humor and trash talking. It is comic book style violent, but not overwhelmingly. It is good fun.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Karen, age 52 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I took my nine year old son to see this. I haven’t let him see—nor have I seen—the newest filmed version of Spidey but I thought this would be more age appropriate. It was, he laughed quite a bit. But for me, the animation was very strange as it looked like blurry 3D without glasses, even though it was 2D. It was hugely derivative and the music loud and obnoxious.

From a Christian worldview, it was fairly inoffensive and the only message for me was taking a leap of faith.

Overall, it was okay but like pretty much all modern cinema, had a great feeling of “been there, done that.” “There is nothing new under the sun.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2
Dirk Wickenden, age 51 (United Kingdom)

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