Shang-Chi Is Marvel Doing It Right

Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is very good. This is what Marvel needs to do through their next phase of movies to keep people interested. Less Black Widow and more Shang Chi. The formula can still work. Is it tiring? A bit. But if you dress it up right with an influx of new ideas, world dynamics and characters? You’ll be making happy movie goers from nerds to normal people.

Something Marvel has done a mostly bang-up job on is taking comic book movies and placing them over top existing genres: heist movies, political dramas, spy thrillers, fantasy, etc. Now we’ve got a kung fu movie with a kung fu super hero.

Taking that a step further, he isn’t magically kung fu or enhanced kung fu like Captain America. He has no mega powers, inherently. He’s just an exceptionally well trained, disciplined and excellent individual. That’s rad as heck because it makes the character much more believable, real and personable.

Simu Liu plays the titular character and this rules pretty hard because he is Canadian! There hasn’t been a whole lot of Canadian’s appearing in these movies so I’m pumped to have one in a new leading man. I think there have only been 5 in big roles and they’ve all been ladies: Evangeline Lilly (Wasp), Cobie Smulders (Agent Hill), Emily Van Camp (Agent 13), Rachel McAdams (Dr Stange’s love interest) and Pom Klementieff (Mantis).

It’s a big deal in Canada when a Canadian gets any level of success at anything besides hockey, so having the new leading man in a Marvel movie be Canadian is pretty rad. Plus he’s decked out in red too so I’m going to tell myself that’s because Canada and not because its red and gold like the Chinese flag.

Awkwafina comes in as the fish out of water character that gets the world explained to her and she does a solid job. She’s more comic relief but she doesn’t undercut too many scenes that it becomes annoying and her role is taken seriously. Her chemistry with Shang is great too.

Meng’er Zhang comes in as Xialing, Shang’s sister, and is a realized slight foil to her brother. Basically what if Shang had stayed behind all those years and continued to live with their father this could have been his reality and future.

Which brings us to the best performance in the film; Wenwu portrayed by Tony Leung Chiu-wai. This is as much his movie as it is Shang’s. If more Marvel villains were of this quality we would finally be able to get passed those dreadfully boring memes and Hot Takes about bad villains. Killmonger never hit with me that well from Black Panther. I think because he disappears for 45 minutes without any presence and then the third act of that movie sucks and thus brings down his overall grade. But to me this was the villain performance of the MCU in the non-Thanos category.

And he isn’t even a villain. He’s an antagonist and that’s a distinction that does so much for this movie. He’s working to his goal, for reasons that make sense to him and honestly kind of make sense (if he wasn’t the bad guy and thus you know he’s in the wrong) and you feel for his story. You fully understand the what, why, when, where, who and how of his character.

It’s a family centered plot at the core. Finding love, making changes as a family man, heartbreak and revenge, and then trying to recover and put the pieces back together. It’s way better than another world-ending extinction catastrophe level event. Those are so passé.

The movie wastes no time to get going. You get your intro, you get your Present Day scene and then you’re right into it. No fake out or dragging out things for no reason. It pops and the movie is going.

Pace and tone does so much for a good story, and the story holds for most of the movie. The first half is better, and even the first 80% is great. But you have to get your big CGI ending for some reason where two monsters do the graveyard smash. 

I would rather that have been saved for the next movie and having a looming, unresolved threat from this movie. That scene and climax can have more impact that way.

It also was lame because you could tell this was all done in pre-viz where they probably had this scripted out before they finished the script, which then makes the plot in service of action and not the other way around. Your action should be in service of the plot.

Other than that, I quite liked the movie. I’m glad these movies seem to be passed the point where they need to slap you in the face with a “The hero isn’t a White Guy scene”. I’m not a moron. I can see it’s a Chinese-Canadian fella. I can see it’s a Chinese lady too. You don’t need some scene where they go “Don’t forget, I’m not The White Man!” It’s insulting and petty when movies do that. I appreciate this movie skipping that scene and treating the audience with respect.

There’s also no reference to The Snap or Thanos. The movie isn’t totally divorced from the MCU, but where it does tie back in doesn’t feel cheap and distracting. Instead it feels logical.

The power of the 10 Rings also makes way more sense in this movie. In the comics are basically 10 baby infinity stones that each have their own power and personality… sort of. Now they are a mix of Dr Strange glow hands, Iron Man blasters and Cap’s shield. Sounds overstuffed, but it isn’t. They’re unique.

This movie is great, and it’s just barely not too long to the point it becomes boring at points. There’s a bit of snipping you could do to tighten this up that would really make it next level for me. Mainly the comic relief cameo that gets more screen time than it needs. That’ll be phone checking time on re-watches.

I want to know how this guy works into the larger Marvel world more than I want to know how The Eternals will or how the TV shows (I haven’t watched) are going to tie into things. Give me more Shang Chi! Don’t make me wait until 2025.

This is most of the world’s introduction to this character, and Marvel aced it.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

I Don’t Know What To Make of Marvel’s The Eternals

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I mean it when I say I don’t know what to make of this movie. Marvel’s The Eternals isn’t a normal Marvel movie. It breaks the formula and is so different tonally you’d be forgiven for not getting that comfort dopamine of a Marvel movie. You can’t watch Black Widow and then watch this and say  “Oh jeez that Marvel formula at it again!” That’s both good and bad, and ends up making a totally average movie.

I’m not familiar at all with Chloe Zhao’s work as a director. But this movie very much doesn’t feel like Black Widow or Ant-Man. I appreciate the attempt to try and make something feel so different. Make something that is very much of its own and not just another in the list. There’s a focus on cinematography here that you don’t normally get in these movies. Almost every scene has a strong shot emphasizing silhouettes and colour palettes and vision of the scene to convey the emotion. And that’s cool!

But the movie is long and a bit boring.

Introducing ten characters is a lot. This isn’t like the original Avengers or Civil War, where you have a big team but you’re already mostly familiar with 80% of the cast. These are all newbies. I’m a comic dork and I knew nearly nothing about these folks, so it doesn’t even have the benefit of a Justice League where you might know not this The Flash, but you do know The Flash.

One benefit to the entirely new characters it that many of them steal names from history: Ikaris, Sersi, (a)Thena, Ajak and Gilgamesh are all names you should have heard and have some idea of what they’re referencing. I’m sure the others in Makkari, Sprite, Phastos, Druig and Kingo have basis in something as well though I’m just not familiar. 

When you have so many characters, it can be difficult to differentiate them but the movie does a well enough job to do that. You understand each individual power set and personality pretty easily. You could argue its reductive and simple, but it’s a 2.5 hour movie with 10 newbies, evil monsters and a Big Cosmic so it’s forgivable.

Characters do change in this film though and they do seem to hold to their convictions. There isn’t any “aw shucks okay I change my mind” scene just for convenience. Out of our cast of ten, there is only one or two that don’t really have a significant change. How much you care and sympathize though is up to you. I waffled and most didn’t grab me.

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The movie is on a timeline to an extinction event, which I get you need for this level of characters considering they’re basically angels or gods or whatever, but there also doesn’t feel like there is urgency until the very final conflict. The build doesn’t have to be frantic, but you don’t really get the sense of urgency or importance of a “the earth is going to explode by lunch time” level thing. You don’t feel that ticking clock. 

You also get to learn that these characters have been around and interacting/protecting humanity since way way way back when sharp sticks were the closest thing to weapons we had.

I am a sucker for when movies or video games or TV going back in time and adding little asterisks to history and filling in notes in the margins with new details. when they go back in time and weave themselves into history in a fun way. Gilgamesh the ancient warrior? He was an Eternal! These folks were hanging at Babylon. Icarus, Circe and Athena? They’re actually Ikaris, Sersi and Thena! Eternals! Hiroshima? The Eternals fault!

If you’re going to pull the “we were here all along” thing, then that’s a fun way to do it that helps add a bit of believability to your world. 

At the same time, there is a lameness to hidden characters that have been here all along and secretly being the guiding hand of history. Especially when you learn the reason they were sent, you can pretty easily say “hey, why didn’t you help with all the bad stuff?” and the answer isn’t particularly strong.

I don’t know if the movie is trying to make a religious point about any particular sect with that. You can have In The Shadows organizations, but the good ones have realistic limitations. Men In Black works because the world is totally normal outside of the weirdo nonsense in their direct jurisdiction. But this is a world with wizards and robots and and an unlimited supply of floating space ships and thousands of super secret agent soldiers and doomsday events every 3-4 years.

At some point you think one of those may have pulled them from hiding.

The conflict in the plot comes from the characters and what they’re purpose is, which again relates to their secrecy. The Deviants aren’t a great antagonist, though I thought they might build to something cool before they didn’t, and then you get to the big ending with the reveal and twist which is going to be mileage-may-vary for everyone.

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Time for some random one off thoughts: 

  • I like that the movie isn’t the same formula like building to a big dumb CGI ending divorced of the plot.
  • There is so much CGI in this movie though. It mostly looks good but at times it breaks and Angelina Jolie turns into gumby.
  • I miss practical effects in movies man. I’m watching the special features of Lord Of The Rings and its inspiring the lengths they went to. More movies need that 2003 mindset.
  • The flashbacks can be a bit long and uninteresting.
  • There appears to be no Disney+ tie in, and that rules.
  • Comedy takes a back seat to the movie. That’s good. The only real line that sticks out is “Fall catalogue. Ikea.” Barf.
  • There could be a fan edit of this that dials it back 15-20 minutes and might be more interesting. The bloat just starts getting to you at some point.
  • I want to see the characters again but just not for like 4-5 years.
  • The Bollywood scene was fun. I love how wild and crazy Bollywood is.
  • Celestials could be neat as a new Thanos.

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Ultimately, the movie was a chance and it was different and I like that. I’ll take this over another Black Widow any day. The movie isn’t bad but I’m not going to watch it again. Maybe if it’s on TV while I’m in a hotel room one day I’ll turn it on and scroll through my phone at the same time.

That just gets back to the problem with the movie though. I love seeing movies in the theatre and when I’m in the theatre I focus on the movie. But I did get bored at one point and thought “I wonder if anyone’s texted me…”

I get the feeling though that this movie will be on a bunch of lists in 5 years like “TOP 10 UNDERRATED MOVIES PEOPLE WERE WRONG ABOUT” in the inverse way now you get Star Wars: The Force Awakens on every “TOP 10 MOVIES THAT
SUCK THAT WEREN’T ACTUALLY GOOD!”

I want to like this more but I can’t because I just don’t care that extra bit.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

Black Widow Got Her Movie

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Disney’s Marvel’s Black Widow is the movie you probably think it is before you even enter the theatre. That’s both good and bad. It’s eminently watchable and perfectly enjoyable. But for a marquee character of the MCU to finally get their own solo project, it just doesn’t really live up to the level set by the other main event stars in the franchise.

It’s another capital ‘m’ Marvel movie that goes in the “it’s fine” pile with like Ant-Man, Dr Strangeand Captain Marvel. You know a completely a-ok 3/5 but not something I’ll be thinking “I should watch that again.” I don’t want to say it doesn’t live up to the expectations, because I’m not sure anyone really expected this to hit the level of something like Guardians of the Galaxy or Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

But I really wanted this to be another The Winter Soldier. I was very very ready to see a fun espionage movie in the vein of Jason Bourne or Mission Impossible. I really thought it could be considering the character and what kind of story works best for her and her skillset. So maybe this falls on me tricking myself into thinking the apple pie was blueberry.

Something I found really interesting is that for a movie that takes place between Civil War and Infinity War, the film is super self-contained. There are no surprise cameos. There’s no awkwardly woven in appearances to remind you of the scope of all these movies. It can be watched as a standalone film and the viewer wouldn’t miss out on anything critical to the experience.

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The tone early on is quite serious and the film is taking itself and the subject matter seriously. Black Widow is on the run and trying to avoid being thrown in international prison. She’s living an unglamorous life and hoping to fade into a new identity.

It feels like a spy movie.

Unfortunately, it starts to become weightless as the plot progresses. And not just because it gets too big in scale – because it moves away from spy stuff to CGI and quips.

Prequel films tend to lack the same weight of something in the proper flow of the timeline because you know who the character is before the movie, and then also who they are after so there’s only so much room in the middle to work with. But hey, someone had to go for the soul stone and that leaves you only so much space to work with for the story.

The plot is 1 + 2 = 3 and mostly straight forward. There wasn’t as much espionage as you would think from a super spy character in their own film. There’s like one fake out twist. Bad military guy wants macguffin. Our Hero needs to stop/protect/save macguffin. Blow up a giant spaceship along the way.

Even if you don’t want to repeat The Winter Soldier too much, go steal the Mission Impossible writing team and stick Black Widow in one of those films. Tense scenes where characters might take a beating that lasts the rest of the film, a lot of tense down to the second timing for espionage and spy-craft and some “oh jeez how will they get out of this”.

One thing I noticed, and this is me being cynical, is that there are a lot of pre-viz fight scenes that movie transitions into which were clearly drawn up mostly-ish before the script was done. So the action isn’t always in service of the plot, but sometimes the plot is in service of the spectacle and action scenes. That isn’t a crime but it can make the feel “too big” when a smaller, dirtier, tighter fight or scene could have had just as much or more impact.

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One of the strengths of the movie is when it slows down to let the actors act and give them the time and space to be actors. The opening of the film is quite good that way. The moments in between action scenes where the family is forced into their family dynamic is quite good. And you have talented actors that can act in this movie. Watch Marriage Story or Stranger Things or any of those British/indie things Florence Pugh has done. Great actors just acting it out. I remember the details of those scenes a lot more than I remember explosion #13 that the characters survive with a little bit of dirt on their cheek.

I don’t know what there is to say about the titular Black Widow. It’s Scarjo. She does well with what’s she is given and can completely handle the weight of being a leading lady in a movie.

David Harbour is great in his limited role. He plays a really believable dad and has great chemistry with everyone around him. He doesn’t quite get as adorable as in Stranger Things but oh well. Rachel Weisz as the slightly colder character of the mom is good too – though I think she gets off the hook a bit lightly for some of the stuff she’s pulled.

The villain is a silly caricature of villainy. I think that’s another reason why the movie feels more fantastical than real as the plot progresses. He’s a Harvey Weinstein inspired bad military man that just has it out to hate women and take advantage of women because he can and that’s why he trained them to be assassins for a comedic reason versus anything practical.

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That’s kind of a plot thing that loses a bit of impact and is something kind of infects a lot of female led projects. The need to make a statement that Women Are Capable People Too. Yeah, I know. Smart people know this. Your average audience member knows this. Morons don’t but they’re morons. The Wonder Woman movie did this excellently just a few years ago. Know what movie didn’t because it got comical with it? Ghosbusters 2016.

We’ve had badass females heroines before: Alien released in 1979, The Terminator released in 1984, Buffy was one of the biggest shows in the 90s, Disney has an entire army of strong female animated characters, Hermione saves the day countless times in Harry Potter, Eowyn killed the motherf*cking Witch King, Jennifer Lawrence launched an entire genre of movies with The Hunger Games, Charlize Theron and Uma Thurman and Angelina Jolie have been kicking ass in movies for 20 years. Video games are full of female leads that whip ass. This all came to mind as I was writing.

I’m not saying you don’t celebrate the fact this character has got her moment and her chance now, but when your villain basically says “women are worthless trash” and then it gets tough to take the movie seriously. Especially when that attitude has led to countless and continuing human rights violations that the main characters don’t really seem all that bothered by because it’s time to blow up that spaceship for the next action scene.

I get a story for a female character is different than a male character and its reductionist to say “just write James Bond but now it’s Jane Bond”. But there’s not much in Mission Impossible or The Winter Soldier or the Bourne franchise that you can’t have Black Widow do here. But you have to maintain a tone and atmosphere for that to happen and this movie didn’t.

Part of a serious tone is that a character takes their lumps and has to fight through those lumps and improvise. That’s something that separates John Wick from The Fast and The Furious movies. Your character can’t just find the cheat code to turn off damage – and if they do then you have to explain it. Logan did that excellently and you just need something similar.

It results in the movie feeling less visceral or gritty, or whatever word you want to use, in exchange for it feeling more fantastical. When Captain America is getting the snot beat out of him by evil Bucky and takes a bullet and an explosion or two, he struggles to get that last disc in the space ship thing. This Black Widow is getting hit by explosions and punches and debris and still just is able to keep on running into a new explosion that doesn’t ruin her makeup or hair. It’s all part of the stakes in a movie.

It’s hard to buy into the stakes of “the characters have to get away from the bomb or avalanche or exploding space ship really quickly or else!” Or else what? There are half a dozen things that should have very obviously killed our Black Widow as she’s been established in nine other movies and a few that should have killed the supporting characters. But nope, and they don’t even put on some lazy bandages like a wrestler. They all recover from fights like Vin Diesel.

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Like that beating Cap gets at the end of TWS would have left this Black Widow with nothing more than a broken nose that she could just easily pop back into place with no swelling so the visual effects artist or make-up team doesn’t have to do a lot of scenes giving her a jank nose.

Oh, and the heavy the villain employs, Taskmaster, is pretty badass but then you realize this super assassin that is a big threat you need to be scared of only manages like one kill the whole film and infinite near misses, to add to the other misses of the movie. I’ve been a bit harsh on the movie but I think it’s just because I wanted so much more. I get frustrated with movies that waste potential more than anything and this movie is a victim of that. Instead of Mission Impossible it went for Big Quippy Action Marvel Movie. I hope some people love it. I don’t want to poopoo anything too hard, but after taking so much time off from “the Marvel formula” over the pandemic, coming back to it does feel… less exciting. Maybe mentally I ended at Endgame a bit. I wouldn’t blame anyone who did, especially when the first film to try and hook you was this one. Maybe the #MarvelFormula has hit critical mass.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is exactly what it is

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is the exact movie it needed to be. This movie knows what was the good part of the first movie, Eddie and Venom, and then gives you more of that plus a foil in Cletus Kasady and Carnage. I really liked this movie. It was exactly what I wanted to see… almost.

I don’t really have complaints about this movie. It did a lot of things right. It was violent, a bit messy in the good way, entertaining, funny and it’s tight. There are no wasted scenes. You can’t take a bathroom break during this movie because every scene is relevant to what is going on.  

Like it’s only 90 minutes long. You can’t waste a scene in a movie that long. I love it… except it should be rated R.

I know why they didn’t, and they do a good job to cut around and keep their PG13 rating while still pushing the envelope as much as you can expect. I just really want to see the rated R cut of this movie. Hopefully it gets a special release but unfortunately it isn’t likely to be quite the pop culture hit of Deadpool. They did take full advantage of PG13 though and drop an excellent f-bomb, but no boobies.

The best part of the movie is the titular characters: Eddie and Venom, Cletus and Carnage. You get all the great couples therapy moments again but now they’ve grown more used to each other, but still aren’t totes besties. Cletus and Carnage have a simple dynamic, which shouldn’t be a surprise.

Carnage is one of my favourite comic villains for the simple reason that he is simple. Cletus loves murder. Carnage loves murder. That’s why they’re so good together. No plans of world domination. No delusions of grandeur. They’re plenty happy together just roaming into a small town and killing everyone at the diner just because they can.

It sounds awful, because it is, and a bit sick, because it is, but that’s why I love the character. Villains don’t need to be complicated if they’re effective when played straight. There’s no ambiguity around the morals of Carnage. He has none.

And because Carnage is a bit simple and more of a small-time villain despite his main event status, the movie follows suit. The plot is small and personal to the characters. There’s like six people in this movie with speaking roles. The two headliners and four other folks. There’s no unnecessary bloated arcs to give side character 3 a full arc. Who cares. Not me. The whole movie is in service of Venom and Carnage.

Tom Hardy does a great job being the nervous, twitchy regular-ish fella that has an alien amoeba slime half in control of his body. Venom, voiced by Hardy though you wouldn’t really know it, does a great job of caring for Eddie and being sick of him at the same time. But they just work, and that’s the point of them. They’re the cutest Lethal Protector and I ship them forever <3.

Woody Harrelson just seemed to have fun on this movie. His performance isn’t exactly deep or layered like an onion but he’s gets Cletus Kasady. See above for why.

The rest of the cast are all good. They do their parts well and make you care just enough. They play well off the dynamic of the movie. Michelle Williams does her thing. Peggy Lu returns and is fun. Naomie Harris looks unrecognizable as Shriek. Whoever plays Dan is great because Dan is a great guy.

Andy Serkis directed this movie and you can tell someone who cares about motion/performance capture and CGI directed this movie because it looks SO MUCH BETTER than the first film. You know what is happening at all times in this movie. I also feel like he brought a bit of his Gollum-Smeagol experience on the characters to this film which is no bad thing.

Part of what helps that is that Venom looks like Venom. Big and black. Carnage looks exactly like Carnage. A bit more slender and red! They pulled more from the Maximum Carnage design with the black mouth and black accents than the more modern Carnage’s that are almost a straight red Venom.

Ultimately, I want to watch this movie again way more than I want to watch the first one again. If you’re reading this and haven’t seen the first one, give it a shot. There is great odd couple energy from Eddie and Venom. And the movie is perfectly fine enough to watch once.

But the real prize of these Venom films is this movie. It’s kind of like a throwback to the era of Raimi Spider-Man and Fox X-Men and Fantastic Four and “ice skating uphill” Blade. It’s cheesy but not insulting you for watching.

The movie takes itself exactly as serious as it should. There’s lots of little key frames and in jokes and iconography that hardcores are going to love, but nothing a general audience member won’t understand. I’m happy. This movie was fun. And fun things aren’t bad.

Oh! And the end-mid credits scene! Please sit and stay and watch that because that is some gourmet teasing. Holy poop! Heck, it even makes the Morbius movie somewhat interesting.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

Everyone Needs To Watch Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

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What if I told you that an animated Spider-Man movie would be so stylish, so well done, so dense and so thoughtful that it would be one of the greatest animated movies of all time? Well, you better believe me because Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse exists and it totally whips.

This movie is a masterpiece overflowing with style and care. I don’t remember the last time a movie had so much style that I kept thinking about it. On a rewatch all I wanted to do was pause and take in every single scene and setting. Most movies have scenes or sequences to that affect, but another movie that is end to end as stylish as Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse? Honestly don’t think it exists. This movie is excellent on so many levels it’s impossible to spill enough digital ink on it.

This may be my new favourite animated movie. It’s right there with The Lion King. It won a freaking Oscar. It captures all the best parts of an animated movie in a time where Big Hollywood seems to want to make everything that was animated into “Live Action” at the expense of imagination.

It’s a Spider-Man movie that doesn’t even follow Peter Parker. We’re following Miles Morales, the half African American and half Puerto Rican Spider-Man through his origin story. A super hero origin story in 2018. That isn’t rote.

Miles is an awesome character. They do a great job establishing him as his own hero.  He isn’t just the new Spider-Man. He wears sneakers, a black suit, hoody, doesn’t tie his laces. He has confidence even as a kid. He’s into graffiti and is creative.  He’s so much more than “Black Spider-Man”. He’s a real character.

And he’s still a high school kid. High school Spider-Man is so much fun. Spiderman should always start in high school. He can move on and grow, but you got to get to know Spider-Man when he’s a kid. Spider-Man learning to Spider-Man as a kid is integral to the character. He’s a young teenager going with the suffix “Man” when that is typically reserved for ambiguous 30-something’s like Iron Man, Batman, Superman, etc.

Miles’ personal style is woven into the storytelling and visuals. I don’t think this movie works with a Peter Parker at the center of it. It feels like the movie is entirely in Miles’ perspective and you see the world as he sees it.

Can’t overlook how refreshing it is for a super hero to have parents that are alive and supportive. It provides new avenues for the hero to work through the conflicts and motivations that give a unique take on being a vigilante. The story moves, twists, turns and satisfies in so many different ways with this flexibility.

We’re living in a Spider-Man exclusive New York. It is helpful to distinguish this world from the live action films (RIP now) where Spider-Man is hanging out in a New York where Doctor Strange, Iron Man, the Avengers and everyone else seems to room on the daily.

Getting the weird fringe Spider-Man’s into the movie is radical too. Peter, Gwen and Miles are pretty mainline at this point, but Noir, Ham and Peni are pretty obscure. It’s neat to see them get some time on screen instead of this being more of a Batman family style movie where you get Peter, Miles, and Gwen hanging out with like Kane Parker, Flash Thompson, etc. and whatever other dudes find themselves adjacent to mainline just Peter Parker.

The movie gets meta in a fun way. Sometimes it’s a gag that subverts your expectations. Other times it’s a small love letter to everything Spider-Man at some point: how many times Uncle Ben has needed to die, the spider bite that gets everyone, dancing emo Peter (which I defend) and a great post credit scene that memes out .

The visual style is the main attraction to this movie though. It does some weird 2 frame play, 1 frame hold, 1 frame skip type look to give it movement as if it’s a flip book or a motion comic but also keeps fluid animation. It takes a bit of time to get used to, but after a little your brain adapts and gets absorbed by it.

There is so much to look at. The base animation mixes with comic panels and hand drawn inserts for flashes. Thought boxes, onomatopoeia words coming and going, panelling in and out. Backgrounds are “drawn” but the characters look 3D. Elements of cell shading and Ben-Day dots/halftones mixing with CGI creates a sharp focus in part of the frame, while having the background look as if it’s a 3D film when you don’t have the glasses on.

Every frame is packed in detail without being distracting. The colour work is phenomenal. So much pop but also keeps the scenes distinct. There’s impressive use of long takes, which is typically unimpressive in an animated movie. There is so much “Show, Don’t Tell” storytelling going on. The directors, animators and cinematographer really outdid themselves.

The score is rad and the mix of hip hop totally fits the style and tone of the film. The music melts right into what you’re looking in every frame and raises the visuals. The voice cast whips and is only outdone by the art style of each character. Nic Cage, Mahershala Ali and Chris Pine in the same movie? And they’re all varying levels of secondary supporting characters? Damn man.

Shameik Moore never falters as Miles. Jake Johnson is perfect as Peter. Hailee Steinfeld couldn’t capture Gwen better. Brain Tyree Henry nails being a father in the soft moments and the harder ones.

Image result for spider man into the spider verse style

An issue you could have in a movie like this is “how do you differentiate what are basically six spider people?” Just have every single one of them radiate their entirely own style. Miles has his modern hip hop fusion from the suit and his movements. He has his own set of distinct abilities on top of the base Spider-Man ones. Peter A Parker as the ideal and Peter B as the “I’ve been at this for so long” shlub version. Gwen’s mix of punk rock while moving gracefully like a ballerina. Noir being… well very noir with the suit and classic “Put up your dukes” fighting. Ham is full on Looney Tunes and Peni gets the anime treatment complete with posing, mannerisms and a 2D style.

This carries through the villains too: from the behemoth that is Kingpin to the fluidity of Doc Ock to the precision of everything Prowler does. The freedom of imagination and creativity is on full display and while you might not pick up on everything, your brain is noticing and picking up every bit of subtlety. Every character has a distinct silhouette so despite the richness on screen you can still pick up everything going on. The action isn’t a mess.

I can go forever. The movie is so damn good. There are more layers to this film than an onion. I also have the same pair of Nike’s that Miles wears.

If you’re already seen the movie and want to just get more about how great it is then make sure you watch this video. You won’t spend 15 minutes better today.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.