“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” opens up a universe of possibilities. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” opens up a universe of possibilities. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Review: Too much Spider-Man? Not in the Spider-Verse

You might be forgiven for feeling superhero overload this holiday season. Had enough of, say, of Spider-Man for a while? Well, this may sound nuts, but consider watching not just one web-slinger but five of them in the animated “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Instead of overload, you’ll be begging for more.

The film gleefully scrambles the notion there can be only one friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man and offers the exciting idea that he can be anyone. He can be a girl, he can be a middle-aged dude with a paunch and he can even be a cartoon pig.

It’s hard to underestimate what this means. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ” does what comics and graphic novels have long experimented with, but this time makes the leap to the big screen. It literally opens up a universe of possibilities. “Anyone can wear the mask. You can wear the mask,” we are told.

The result is a film that’s fantastically fresh, both visually and narratively, trippy and post-modern at the same time and packed with intriguing storytelling tools, humour, empathy and action, while also true to its roots — still telling the story of a young man learning to accept the responsibility of fighting for what’s right.

Our main hero here is one plucked from a spin-off from the main Spider-Man comic book universe: Miles Morales, a half-African-American, half-Puerto Rican teen from Brooklyn who has a Chance the Rapper poster on his wall. He looks and acts nothing like previous Peter Parker types — Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland — and that’s great. Hey, if Cate Blanchett can play Bob Dylan in a movie, why not offer us a new look on Spidey?

Produced by Phillip Lord and Christopher Miller, the duo behind the acclaimed “The Lego Movie,” this Spider-Man saga pops with outstanding animation, constantly changing its styles. At times, it can be hyper-real, then surreal. It includes anime, slo-mo, colour distortion, Pop art, hand-drawn elements, CG animation and even tweaks its own origins by adding dialogue in little panels.

The animators place their story in a wonderfully gritty New York, complete with screeching, graffiti-streaked subway cars and charmless pedestrians, (one of whom turns out to be voiced by Post Malone, who contributes to the soundtrack.) One quibble: Their ability to have things in the foreground appear in sharp relief while objects in the background bleed away makes it seem as if you’re watching a 3D film without those weird glasses.

Our hero Miles (Shameik Moore) is trying to navigate life between his cop dad (Brian Tyree Henry) and his cooler uncle (Mahershala Ali). After being bitten by a radioactive spider, he witnesses the death of Spider-Man (smaller viewers, beware). But Miles soon learns there are many other Spider-People, freed from their realities by the hulking Kingpin (Liev Schreiber), who has built a nuclear collider that allows access to alternative universes.

“New Girl” star Jake Johnson voices a flabbier and depressed Peter Parker who wears sweat pants and is going through a divorce to Mary Jane. There’s a fedora-wearing, black-and-white Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage) who has been teleported from battling Nazis. There’s also a cool-girl Spider-Gwen played by Hailee Steinfeld, and Kimiko Glenn voices an anime schoolgirl from the future. And there’s Spider-Ham (John Mulaney) who is rooted in Saturday morning kiddie cartoons, including the use of a dropping anvil.

This odd family unites to take down Kingpin and return to their universes, winking forever at themselves and the viewer, not a little like the “Deadpool.” Directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman — Rothman and Phil Lord wrote the story — also ground the tale with a great soundtrack that includes Elliphant, Run-DMC, The Notorious B.I.G., James Brown and Nicki Minaj.

Marvel icon Stan Lee makes his expected animated appearance, but this time there’s sadness attached. He mourns Spider-Man’s passing. “I’m going to miss him,” he tells Miles. Lee died Nov. 12 and we’re going to miss him, too. But this film somehow sums up a lot of what he tried to do over his career: Pack fun, action and sweetness into a story and then watch it soar.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” a Columbia Pictures release, is rated PG for “for frenetic sequences of animated action violence, thematic elements and mild language.” Running time: 117 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.

By The Associated Press

Just Posted

Alberta has made a more detailed framework for those looking to acquire an exemption to the mandatory indoor mask bylaw. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Alberta changes requirements for mask exemptions

Masks wearing has been recommended for almost a year and provincially mandated… Continue reading

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

RCMP file photo (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)
RCMP investigating shooting near Maskwacis

Maskwacis and Wetaskiwin RCMP are seeking public assistance after a shooting has… Continue reading

Rode
Smith among impressive group of RDC soccer Queens recruits

There have been a number of cases where younger girls have developed… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools is projecting a $4-million budget deficit for 2021-22 school year. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools prepares $124-million budget

$1 million COVID recovery plan to assist students

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Vancouver Canucks' Nils Hoglander, right, is checked by Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during third-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Thursday, May 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch, left, and guard Jalen Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

The Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames, is shown in Calgary, Thursday, March 12, 2020. The final three games of Canada's Secret Cup women's hockey tournament will be played in Calgary's NHL arena.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

FILE - In this Thursday, July 18, 2019 file photo, Ron Francis talks to reporters in Seattle after he was introduced as the first general manager for Seattle's yet-to-be-named NHL hockey expansion team. Four years since George McPhee was a “puppet master” of the NHL leading up to the Vegas expansion draft, general managers approached this trade deadline with Seattle’s upcoming addition to the league in mind. While Kraken GM Ron Francis prepares – and maybe made a handshake deal or two already like McPhee did – Seattle was on his colleagues’ minds.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney attends a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Simmering internal discontent in his United Conservative caucus has boiled over into an open challenge to his leadership. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (13) celebrates in the outfield at the end of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bichette, Blue Jays rally again to beat Braves 8-4

Bichette, Blue Jays rally again to beat Braves 8-4

FILE - Jordan Spieth waits his turn to putt during the third round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament in San Antonio, in this Saturday, April 3, 2021, file photo. Spieth will try to complete the career Grand Slam next week at the PGA Championship. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas, File)
Momentum for McIlroy, few others going into PGA Championship

Momentum for McIlroy, few others going into PGA Championship

Most Read