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What's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse About?
Miles Morales, the new kid in a prestigious New York High School, is going through the natural challenges that face the average teenager struggling to find his place and identity. As he is adjusting to new dynamics in his domestic and living situations, he is abruptly faced with heightened challenges and opportunities when he is bitten by the same radioactive spider that infected the Peter Parker (Spider-Man) of his reality. Miles finds himself trying to understand the supernatural changes he is going through and determining what they mean to him.
Simultaneously, in the wake of the side effects of an interdimensional experiment by the Kingpin, other Spider-Men. . . Spider-Men? (Spider-Men/Women, Spider-Creatures, Spider-Folk, Spider-Pork?) Uh. . . OTHERS who don the mask of Spider-Man in their respective dimensions are incidentally drawn to this New York occupied by Miles.
It then becomes a series of events leading Miles to assist in the quest of the various Spider. . . OTHERS as they find a way to destroy the interdimensional device while returning to their own dimensions before they are killed because they are unable to remain in this alternate dimension for too long.
Is It Any Good? (Grade: A)
With Sony risking oversaturation of the Spider-Man universe in this—the fourth movie in the last two years—with characters from the franchise, I had concerns going in. My primary concern was that it would just be a cheap attempt to duplicate the adoration “Batman fans” had for the deep-cut references and Easter eggs in The Lego Batman Movie. But this move wasn’t too dense in such gimmicks. Such Easter eggs would be enjoyed by the more dedicated fans while not distracting from the overall story. The nods to the fans were quick and witty and several had a place appropriate in breaking the fourth wall.
Secondly, introducing several, much less common Spider-Man characters wouldn’t seem to work or be taken seriously on the big screen, such as Spider-Ham and the Peni Parker. However, they, as well as each of the other renditions of Spider-Man represented in this movie, contributed to the plot and were engaging and endearing to a variety of audience members.
The visuals in this movie were astounding. Brilliant use of shapes and perspective, camera angles and cinematography were flawless and constantly appealing. Not enough could be said about the stunning animation in this movie. It’s been celebrated as a groundbreaking masterpiece in “comic-book” style art coming to life. In explosive colors and visuals, it’s a very busy screen at times with incredible use of colors and lights.
Music wise, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a movie with a well-balanced tone that is carried and enhanced with a great score and fitting soundtrack that contributes to each of its darker and lighter moments.
Is It Okay for Your Kids?
The villains in this movie have some intense moments and some snarling, potentially frightening features for young children. There are several brief and intense chases with some very effective ominous music loudly playing contributing to the darkness of the tone of those scenes.
There are several dark and heavy moments in this movie with some tragic consequences. Two primary characters die in non-graphic but violent ways for younger kids. One death early in the movie includes a character being instantly killed in a one-two punch but doesn't show the hits land on camera. The other death entails a secondary but important character being shot in the back with a gun. No blood is shown in either scene, but the intensity is great and mourning scenes follow both deaths.
Any Worthwhile Messages?
Responsibility: The well-known theme of Spider-Man is, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
“You may feel that there are others who are more capable or more experienced who could fulfill your callings and assignments better than you can, but the Lord gave you your responsibilities for a reason. There may be people and hearts only you can reach and touch. Perhaps no one else could do it in quite the same way” (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Lift Where You Stand,” Oct. 2008).
Encouragement: Miles is told by his father, “I see a spark in you. Whatever you choose to do with it, you’ll be great.” This line later comes to his mind with great impact when Miles is deciding to step up and become Spider-Man.
“We hold in our arms the rising generation. They come to this earth with important responsibilities and great spiritual capacities. We cannot be casual in how we prepare them. Our challenge as parents and teachers is not to create a spiritual core in their souls but rather to fan the flame of their spiritual core already aglow with the fire of their premortal faith . . . To the youth and children: Live up to your important responsibilities and great spiritual capacities” (Elder Neil L. Andersen, “Tell me the Stories of Jesus,” April 2010).
Spiritual Gifts/Talents: Mary Jane quotes Peter Parker saying, “We all have powers of one kind or another. In a way, each of us is Spider-Man.”
“For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby” (D&C 46:11–12).
“One of the great tragedies of life, it seems to me, is when a person classifies himself as someone who has no talents or gifts. When, in disgust or discouragement, we allow ourselves to reach depressive levels of despair because of our demeaning self-appraisal, it is a sad day for us and a sad day in the eyes of God. For us to conclude that we have no gifts when we judge ourselves by stature, intelligence, grade-point average, wealth, power, position, or external appearance is not only unfair but unreasonable” (Elder Marvin J. Ashton, “There Are Many Gifts,” Oct 1987).
Diversity: Each version of Spider-Man in this film brings unique looks, personality, skills, and experience with them. Only in working together and motivating each other are they able to accomplish the task of “sending everyone home” and save the world.
“If you could see into our hearts, you would probably find that you fit in better than you suppose. You might be surprised to find that we have yearnings and struggles and hopes similar to yours. Your background or upbringing might seem different from what you perceive in many Latter-day Saints, but that could be a blessing. Brothers and sisters, dear friends, we need your unique talents and perspectives. The diversity of persons and peoples all around the globe is a strength of this Church” (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Come Join with Us,” Oct. 2013).
Leap of faith: Miles asks Peter Parker when he’ll know he’s ready to be Spider-Man. Peter replies, “you never know. It’s a leap of faith”
“Our Father in Heaven has given us tools to help us come unto Christ and exercise faith in His Atonement. When these tools become fundamental habits, they provide the easiest way to find peace in the challenges of mortality” (Elder Richard G. Scott, “Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority,” Oct. 2014).
“And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do” (1 Nephi 4:6).
Tim Wilde is currently studying film at Salt Lake Community College. As a single father who failed to bequeath his love of movies to his children, he has taken to the internet as co-creator and co-host of Saints on Cinema, a YouTube channel devoted to discussing and reviewing film from the perspective of a couple of awesome members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other various guests.