Film: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”; Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman; Rating: ***1/2
Weirdly, I kept thinking of Rajinikanth while watching teenaged African American boy swing from ennui to exhilaration, a la Spiderman. Not because Rajini is, Oh my God, such a superhero, 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.
Well, to cut a sad story short, Rajinikanth and Deepika Padukone in Soundarya Rajinkanth’s “Kochadaiiyaan” looked nothing like the originals.
In “Spider-Man Into Spider-Verse” (the verse, I suspect, has nothing to do with poetry), the characters are all so tenable that I forgot I was watching an animation film.
The magic of seeing a subverted version of Spider-Man’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 Spider-Man as a vulnerable hero in need of help from a fanboy. Imagine Amitabh Bachchan in “Deewaar”, seeking Dev Patel’s help. But our wounded Spider-Man 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 superhero genre: vulnerable yet vital, challenged yet unconquerable.
Spider-Man’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 that they seen destined to be t-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 Spider-Man is voiced with sufficient curiosity and apprehension by Shameik 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 Spider-Man’s innocence. We can’t have that, can we?