Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is arguably the best comic book movie of 2018
Do not let this one pass you by.
Avengers: Infinity War. Black Panther. Incredibles 2. Venom. Deadpool 2. Ant-Man and the Wasp. Teen Titans Go! To The Movies.
All superhero movies, all released in 2018. For the most part, a pretty decent selection.
However, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse isn't just a superhero movie. It properly feels like a comic book movie, filled with visuals and plot elements that superhero movies - especially live-action superhero movies - would be terrified to go near.
The plot sounds complicated, but isn't: The Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) has created a giant conductor that is capable of opening a gateway between dimensions, but Spider-Man (Chris Pine) is convinced it will destroy most of New York if turned on.
In a twist of fate, Kingpin actually defeats Spider-Man, and it is left to teenager Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) to done the suit and save the day. However, another Peter Parker (this one voiced by Jake Johnson) arrives in Miles' dimension, but he is well into his 40's, out of shape, and divorced by Mary Jane. He decides to help to save the day, if only because it means it will get him back to his own dimension.
Then a few more Spider-People begin to show up, including an old-school black-and-white Spider-Man (brilliantly voiced by Nic Cage), a Gwen Stacey who was bitten by the radioactive spider instead (Hailee Steinfeld), a Peni Parker (Kimiki Glenn) from the distant future who telepathically communicates with her robot spider-suit, and a pig called Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), all sucked into Miles' version of reality.
Yep, there is a lot going on here - and there's a bunch more we can't even begin to get into without potentially ruining some of the movie's great surprises - but it all makes perfect sense when it plays out in front of you.
What doesn't make sense is just how funny, how emotional, and how staggeringly inventive it is. Isn't this the same Spider-Man we've seen rebooted three times in the last few years alone??
Clip via Sony Pictures Ireland
While the movie's three directors obviously had a lot to do with the end product, it is writer Phil Lord's finger-prints that can be seen throughout every maniacally original sequence.
Lord reportedly made this his passion project after he and Chris Miller were dropped from directing Solo: A Star Wars Story, and his usual unique sensibilities that he also brought to 21/22 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie are everywhere here.
From paying fantastic respect to all of the Spider-Men movies that have come before, to giving Miles' version his own powerful origin story (there is no Uncle Ben here, but a far more emotionally complicated conflict at play), to the smartly twisted takes on well-known characters that change them just enough to make them unpredictable, it all works fantastically well.
Plus, as with any story that attempts to do anything parallel universes, it is visually astounding. The climax sequence will have your jaw hanging, knowing all too well it is something that live-action movies couldn't even begin to attempt, mixing in the scope of Infinity War with the LSD-trippy aspects of (deep cut here) A Scanner Darkly.
This movie has a bit of an uphill battle on its hands - another Spider-Man movie? And this one is a "cartoon"?? - but it is one that thoroughly deserves as big an audience as it can possibly get, if only because we desperately want a sequel with... well, we won't spoil it, but do stay for the end credits!
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is released in Irish cinemas from Wednesday 12 December, with a select few cinemas showing previews on Thursday 6 December.