"Take a Leap of Faith and Unleash the Hero Within"
What You Need To Know:
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is a terrific, enjoyable animated adventure with clever, funny writing. The story’s energy seldom stalls. The movie has lots of cartoon action violence and some light slapstick violence. Some of the action violence is intense, so caution is advised for children. Otherwise, the movie is family-friendly. SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE has an uplifting Christian, moral worldview. Its redemptive pro-family themes extol love, sacrifice, forgiveness, doing the right thing, saving others, and getting a second chance.
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is an animated comic book adventure where different incarnations of Spider-Man from other dimensions, including two females and a talking pig, team together to stop a ruthless crime boss from destroying reality when using a gigantic machine to bring back his dead wife and son. Playful, fun and lively, SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is an exciting, funny movie with lots of action, heart and faith, but there’s plenty of intense action violence, so caution is advised for children.
The movie opens with young Miles Morales, the teenage son of a black police officer and a Hispanic nurse, chafing at having to attend a special charter school for gifted students where he’ll live in a dorm with another student. Miles would rather go to his old school in Brooklyn. He finds a comforting soul in his older uncle, Aaron, who, like Miles, wants to be free from rules and responsibility.
Aaron takes Miles to an underground, abandoned subway connection near the headquarters of a closed cutting-edge lab that went bust, where Miles and Aaron can use their graffiti skills as artists. Miles gets bitten by a radioactive spider infused with electrical powers and by morning is transformed into a budding Spider-Man in his dorm room. This causes all sorts of trouble for Miles at school, so he decides to return to the underground subway connection and find the dead spider that bit his hand.
While there, Miles hears some noises coming from the closed lab building, where he finds Peter Parker aka Spider-Man battling the ruthless crime boss Kingpin and his henchmen. They’re fighting over a huge machine, a special atomic collider, that Kingpin is trying to use to bring back his beloved wife and son. Peter believes the machine will destroy a major part of the city and kill many people, but Kingpin won’t listen. Miles wants to help Peter but he’s never really used his powers and can’t control them. So he hesitates while the villains mortally wound Peter. As he lies dying, Peter hands Miles a key to the machine that can stop it. Miles promises Peter he will use the key to stop the machine before Kingpin can make it fully operational.
Kingpin sends his henchmen after Miles to get the key. Meanwhile, Miles starts running into versions of Spider-Man from other dimensions brought into Miles’ dimension by Kingpin’s machine. There’s an older Peter Parker who’s divorced from Mary Jane. There’s a noir Peter Parker in black and white, who talks like a cynical private detective from the 1940s. There’s Peni Parker, a Japanese girl from the future with spider powers and a robot. Then, there’s Peter Porker, a talking pig with Spider-Man powers. They all team up with the Aunt May from Miles’ dimension to stop Kingpin.
However, Miles still can’t seem to control his spider powers. Until he does, he won’t be able to fulfill the promise he made to his world’s Peter Parker, the hero Miles longs to emulate. If Miles can’t use the key to destroy the machine and send the others safely back to their worlds, then one of the other Spider-Man superheroes will have to sacrifice their own life to do it.
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is a terrific, entertaining animated adventure with lots of clever, funny writing. The characters and plot are well scripted, so the story’s energy seldom stalls. Despite some references to the humanist notion of a multiverse, the movie sticks to the older science fiction concept of separate dimensions, where different versions of the Spider-Man origin story occur and different heroes and heroines with spider powers emerge. The movie plays with this concept in a witty, inspired way that adds to the story’s humor. In doing this, the filmmakers have lots of fun with the goofy ways that comic books create different characters and how they came to be who they are. They include some very funny self-reflexive jokes about previous SPIDER-MAN movies from Sony.
The animation and production values are high, with excellent voice work from the actors. Some blurry, frenetic moments occur in INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, but they pass quickly, and the craftsmanship of the animation and camerawork is otherwise very impressive.
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE has lots of action cartoon violence and some light slapstick comedy violence. Some of the action violence is intense. This is especially true, for example, when some major characters are killed and when Kingpin pummels young Miles into submission during the movie’s climactic action sequence. Because of this, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for children and especially younger children.
Other than the violence, however, INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is actually surprisingly family friendly. Miles, the teenage hero, is a character that children and families can appreciate as they watch the movie. The problems Miles undergoes throughout the story are clean, relatable problems laced with family-friendly humor, without the usual crude references that occur in other movies about teenager characters and their personal problems. Also, his father and mother play strong, heartwarming roles in the young hero’s maturation process as the story goes along. This is as it should be in the Spider-Man universe.
Another surprising and even inspiring part of SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is the movie’s Christian, morally uplifting themes. The dialogue repeatedly talks about taking a leap of faith. This isn’t a blind leap of faith, but a leap of faith supported by knowledge and mindful awareness. INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE also contains strong Christian, moral themes of forgiveness, sacrifice, doing the right thing, love, helping others, and getting a second chance to correct mistakes and redeem oneself. As noted above, family plays an important role in the story and its turning points. The family theme in the movie brings some well-earned tears and heartwarming moments to the story. In one funny sequence, for example, Miles’ father explicitly but humorously reminds his son of the importance of telling your parents and children that you love them. Finally, a major sequence leading to a nice chase sequence is set at Trinity Church in New York City and its nearby cemetery. The camera lingers a couple times on the church’s Christian steeple and on the cemetery crosses. Thus, at least in this Spider-Verse, outward symbols of faith and spiritually haven’t been erased but are actually part of the story and part of the journey of the characters.
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is sure to be a major hit this Christmas season. It hits all the right notes that will attract media-wise moviegoers looking for a fun, uplifting time at the local movie theater.