Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Lily Tomlin, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine, and yes Nicolas Cage
Runtime: 116 Minutes
Rating: PG (For frenetic sequences of animated action, violence, thematic elements, and mild language)
Release Date: Theatrical Release – December 14th, 2018
Streaming Options: Netflix
First I want to welcome all of my readers to the Portsmouth Daily Times’ Monday E-Edition. Obviously we are in trying times and I hope you all are staying safe. Until things are “back to normal” my column will be appearing here on Mondays instead of our typical “Know Where to Go” Thursday column. I’m sure the last thing on all of your minds right now is entertainment but it has a purpose too. I’ve hinted in the last few weeks but we will continue to review streaming media. We are all in this together and things WILL get better. Soon enough we will be back to theaters with all that awesome popcorn!
I said several weeks ago I’d review a “kid-friendly” film next. We all got hit with the Tiger King so this week I make things right! THIS FILM is ABSOLUTELY for kids. The best part is the vast majority of adults will love it. Most know who Spider-man is. We’ve seen many different renditions of this superhero. From the comics, to the cartoons, and then to the films, Spider-man has been played by Tobey Macguire, Andrew Garfield, and our current live-action Spider-man Tom Holland. Fans of all ages have their favorites. I grew up with the cartoons, and with the “original” Sam Raimi series starring Tobey Macguire (everyone remembers the upside down kiss!) I’ll let you in on a secret though. This Spider-man played by Shameik Moore may very well be the best. Spoiler alert: this film won best animated film at the Oscars. It’s VERY GOOD.
Onto the film.
Immediately the visuals catch your attention. This isn’t the typical title screens we are all accustomed too. The music then takes off and helps push what you are seeing to new levels. We get amazing visuals throughout this film. I HATE I didn’t see this in theaters. We met our first Peter Parker (Pine) yes, you read that correctly. Our first one. It’s not said specifically that this is the Sam Raimi version but it is alluded too. We are shown the typical backstory you get with most superhero films. This catches the audience up on who Spider-man is. A small montage starts show some of his acts of heroism. Yes, we even see the “upside down”
kiss. Parker (Pine) reminds that he is the only “one Spider-man” and we are looking at him…..foreshadowing?
We then meet our main protagonist in this film. Miles Morales (Moore) is a young kid navigating the life of a typical teenager. He loves art and music (again the soundtrack is near perfect.) He also fits with his father Jefferson (A police officer) and takes solace in his Uncle Aaron (Ali) He looks like a normal kid. More is to come.
Without spoiling the plot points “something” happens. This causes a ripple into Mile’s world and we don’t just get one more Spider-man, we get many. We met another adult version of Peter Parker. Known as Peter B. Parker (Johnson) I was fascinated by this take on the character. Imagine if a superhero just never lived up to his expectations. This Parker is that. He’s down on his luck and clearly in a depressed state. Jake Johnson (readers will know him as Nick from New Girl) plays this character perfectly. He has the self-depreciating humor on full display and it’s laugh out loud funny everytime. We then meet the other “Spiderman” There is Spider-Ham (yes Spider-man as a pig) A Japanese-American girl named Peni Parker in a mech spider suit called SP//dr. We also have “Spider-man Noir” (Cage) This version has Nicolas Cage with his dry over-the-top acting all over the place. With this character it really works!
We have other characters I don’t want to spoil, but lets just say there is a team that wants to take on this movie’s “Big Bad” Wilson Fisk (Schreiber) At the same time Morales has a crush on Gwen Stacey (Steinfeld) so hijinks happen there as well.
This film works on so many levels. The animation mixes realism with pop-art that flows seamlessly. Like I stated earlier the soundtrack kicks it up a notch. What really makes this film stand out (and in my opinion be the best Spider-man film released) is the cast and story. We’ve watched many films together, some of which have no heart. This one is full of it. We see different interpretations of the same character yet they all are struggling with something different. With that motif in itself you’ll find someone or something to connect with. Then of course the cast, which character plays their part at the top of their game. The chemistry flows, the jokes work, and it’s TRULY funny!
I encourage you to set down with your kids or grand-kids and watch this film. You don’t have to watch any of the previous entries. You’ll be caught up to speed quickly. Also don’t let the word “animated” turn you off. This is better than many live-action films today. Again I hope you all are staying safe. Practicing social distancing and please adhere to the “stay-at-home” orders as much as you can. Just as important is our support for local business. Are you tired of cooking? Get takeout tonight! We WILL get through this together! Enjoy the time with your family or even if you’re like me and live alone enjoy yourself and stay safe. Watch this film and take some time to unwind with our friendly-neighborhood Spider-man. 5 web-slingers out of 5 #STAYSAFE