‘Spiderman Into the Spider-Verse’ review : Spiderman gets a new life

This film creates a magical language for the super-hero genre: vulnerable yet vital, challenged yet unconquerable

Photo courtesy: social media
Photo courtesy: social media

Subhash K Jha

Weirdly, I kept thinking of Rajinikanth while watching teenaged African American boy swing from ennui  to exhilaration , a la Spiderman. Not because Rajini is, OMG, such a super-hero but because his daughter had made a mess of a film that employs the same animation method  (motion-capture animated film) where the characters are captured animation but so real they look almost-human.

In Spiderman Into Spider-verse (the verse, I suspect, has  nothing to do with  poetry) the characters are all so tenable I forgot I was watching an animation film. The magic of seeing a subverted version of Spiderman’s super-heroism starts in the film as a  giggle  and  builds up into grand  glorious saga of heroism, resilience and retribution.

It is hard to imagine Spiderman as  a vulnerable hero in need of help from a fan-boy. Imagine Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Deewaar’ seeking Dev Patel’s help. But our wounded Spiderman gets just that from Miles, a teenager going through the usual problems of emotional distancing and hormonal havoc.  Just the right target for a Spidery invasion.

Without  giving away the plot I can say with delightful conviction that this film creates a  magical language for the super-hero genre:  vulnerable yet vital, challenged yet  unconquerable. Spiderman’s vitality is revamped and rebooted as the boy-man Miles takes charge of super-heroic duties to save New York from calamitous adversaries. The villains are vile. The heroes are so cool they seem destined to be tee shirt logos.

The  characters are all hugely engaging without making an effort to win us over with excessive referential sassiness. The  collage of  action-adventure sweeps us  into its arms, never allowing the characters to be dwarfed by the spectacle. This is a film where the action speaks louder than the words and yet the conversations are never drowned in the din of overpowering razzle-dazzle.

While Miles, the surrogate Spiderman is voiced with sufficient curiosity and apprehension by Shamiek Moore,  Hailee Steinfeld who voices Spiderwoman  brings to her character just the right ingredients of wonderment and wisdom.

In fact, one of the winning factors in this film is the young hero’s inexperience and callowness. Any entity, evil or scheming, could take advantage of our wannabe Spiderman’s innocence. We can’t have that, can we?

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