Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse – Close as you can get to perfection

I’m pretty sure Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse is going to be the movie kids of the future look back on, when they dig deep to find out what kickstarted their love of super hero animated movies. If I had to describe how I felt while watching, I’d say it was like watching back to back episodes of my favourite action cartoon.

I’m twenty one this year. When I think back to the cartoons I loved when I was younger, several series would come to mind. Like Teen Titans, or DC animated universes’ Justice League. The movie was a perfect balance between action and story, heart-wrenching and humorous. This is the shot in the arm the tired Spider-man franchise needed. I can scarcely believe this movie was written by the same guys who did Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs!

If I’m what I’m saying still isn’t clear, allow me to continue praising this movie to high heavens. This was one of the best movies I’ve seen all year. Rocketing past Spider-man: Homecoming and settling up there with Marvel’s brutally amazing Infinity War. Tom Holland’s remake was decent, but the movie didn’t leave me giddy with excitement like Into the Spider-Verse did.

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Set in Brooklyn, the movie is centered on Miles Morales as he stumbles upon an evil plot resulting in the death of his world’s Spiderman. Bitten by a radioactive spider and developing the same Spidey powers, Miles’ life begins to spiral out of control.

Fortunately for him, the mastermind responsible for Peter’s death has inadvertently summoned heroes from parallel universes, and he teams up with them to learn what it takes to be a hero and to stop Brooklyn from being destroyed. Oh, and did I mention those heroes are also variations of Spider-man?

I went into the movie with minimal knowledge of the movie. I probably saw a trailer or two, but for the most part, I only knew it had the gimmick of the same heroes being summoned from a parallel universe. Into the Spider-Verse could have easily been a flaming dumpster fire with so many characters, but the plot is ridiculously airtight.

Narrative threads are set up and seen to fruition. The plot moves at a blazing pace but remains economical for viewers to follow. Even better is that despite the clichéd setup, the movie still manages to pull off a number of plot twists that I wouldn’t have dared to dream of.

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Take the villain, as an example. When Wilson Fisk, or Kingpin, was introduced, I had a faint notion of his personality and motivations from Daredevil. The screenwriters could have used him as he came, I’m sure Marvel fans wouldn’t have minded. But this image I of him I had was completely ripped apart and built up over the course of the movie.

I say from experience that animated films often fail in the villain aspect, likely to keep the story digestible and easy to follow for kids. As I said before, Fisk kills Peter Parker at the start of the Into the Spider-Verse but the movie still successfully turns him into a sympathetic character. I rooted for Miles’ and his merry band of heroes to save the day, but deep down, I also hoped Fisk could somehow reach his goal.

When I think this, I have to remind myself that him getting what he wants would undoubtedly result in the destruction of Miles’ reality. There’s something amazing to be said about Into the Spider-Verse’s portrayal of characters that can make me root for both the villains and heroes.

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Rarely is there an animated movie as stunning as this one. It shuns realistic 3D used in movies like How to Train your Dragon in favour of a gorgeous comic-book cell-style that makes backgrounds, environments, and characters pop. Even if your kids get doozy because they can’t follow the story, they’ll be enraptured by the visuals.

The concrete jungle of Brooklyn is anything but dull. A mish mash of clothing colours, graffiti, normal everyday objects seem so lively. On the other end of the spectrum, take the autumn forest featured in the trailers where Miles and Parker swing around in, which is practically dripping with colour. Absolutely gorgeous.

Lush orange leaves scattered across the forest floor, the standout red and blue of the signature Spidey suit. I was wrapped up in the moment, and I felt truly, like I was there, watching as they swung from tree to tree. Without a doubt, the animation was one of the best this year.

I’m glad I dragged myself to catch this movie. Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse is one hell of a way to finish a year.

10/10

Heyyyy

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Mirai Review – The Sister who Leapt Through Time

Mirai no Mirai, shortened to Mirai for western audiences, is a coming of age story of a four year old boy. This boy is named Kun, the first born of a newlywed couple. His first four years on earth is a wonderful experience as everybody fawns over him, spoiling him silly, but things begin to change when his new-born sister usurps his place as the apple of his family’s eye.

Mirai is delicate, an innocent babe that compels everyone to dote on her as babies often do. Kun is peeved by the sudden change in everyone’s behaviours and sets out to prove that him and only him, is worthy of love and affection. The four year old is a brewing cocktail of jealousy and an incident sends him storming to the garden.

There, he encounters a strange guest… and his teenage sister from the future?

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Mamoru Hosoda’s movies make me warm and fuzzy while evoking a waterfall of tears at appropriate moments. I find his movies peculiar because they don’t always involve romance but remain popular with to a wide audience. It doesn’t reach the mega success of Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, but it has its fans.

The focus of Hosoda’s movies are typically on family, the loss of innocence with age, and loss. Not all of his movies are bangers, but that’s mostly due to personal preference than the quality of the story. My all-time favourite is still Summer Wars, followed by The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Wolf Children.

The last two are below the first because I only watched them once. I can’t do it again. They were so overwhelming sad that when I think about them on occasion, I have to sit down to catch my breath.

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For me, Mirai rests in the middle ground among his movies on par with The Boy and the Beast.

Kun’s sibling rivalry with his sister didn’t capture me as much as I wanted to. It’s not that Hosoda’s intent fails to come through, because it does, but it felt like I like an outsider witnessing events rather than being a part of them. I think my apathy towards those moments can be forgiven given my status as an only child. It doesn’t help that I lack any kind of family rivalry. I have a dog, but he stole everyone’s affections from day one, so it doesn’t count.

Time skips in the movie (both literal and figurative) occasionally fall flat, but it can’t be helped seeing as the plot deals with Kun meeting his sister’s older self. The pacing felt a little awkward because of the back and forth between past and present, but the situations themselves are immensely enjoyable. Actually, some even blew me away. Not all time travelling is done by Mirai!

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The themes of the movie are clearer here than his past movies. In fact, I felt like they were a little too on the nose. Especially towards the end, it felt like the movie was reaching out and smacking me while shouting, “DO YOU GET IT?” As you can tell, it felt a little too heavy handed for my tastes.

Despite my problems with the movie, it’s still definitely worth a watch. If you’re not into family oriented films, Mirai is also still worth your time for its animation alone. It’s a spectacular treat for the eyes with bright colours, detailed set pieces and crisp animation.

7/10

FUTUREEEEE??

Barony Review – This Loot Be Mine

Barony is a first-person roguelike that brings back the difficulty and versatility of classic RPGs like System Shock, Ultima Underworld, and Daggerfall. It has roguelike mechanics fans of the genre should be familiar:  perma-death, randomly generated dungeons, secret areas, and most importantly, hundreds of unique collectible items and loot. Lore is present in the form of scrolls and books, the game is a well-realised world and those who stop to look will be richly rewarded. I was suitably chilled reading morbid tales and poems stolen off undead skeletons and trolls. Continue reading “Barony Review – This Loot Be Mine”

Overlord S2 – Ranting about Lizards

I don’t know if it’s a testament to my luck, but most anime I watch can be considered pretty good. Some might be completely average, but if I enjoy it, it’s time well spent. Looking at the number of series I’ve reviewed since the blog’s inception, it’s extremely rare to see a bad review. But I certainly didn’t expect Overlord of all anime to break that streak. Continue reading “Overlord S2 – Ranting about Lizards”

After the Rain – Love over a cup of coffee

If you watch anime or consume anything from movies to video games, you’d have realised romances portrayed in them aren’t very realistic. They pander to our fantasies and private daydreams. A handsome man, woman, or creature, with a perfect personality and supermodel looks attracted to a plain, faced, absolutely boring nobody who could disappear the next day and not turn up on the missing section of a newspaper until a month later. Wish fulfillment is thy name. Everyone is but a slave to its whims. Continue reading “After the Rain – Love over a cup of coffee”

Casual Movie Review: The Incredibles 2

This is possibly the first movie from Pixar (excluding Cars 2, but we don’t talk about that) that I watched, and walked away feeling conflicted. After being bought out by Disney, I can’t say I had zero doubts that Pixar would have complete creative freedom taken away. But with how good Zootopia, Monster University and Coco turned out to be I hoped the studio would continue with their habit of producing brilliant, heart-warming movies. Continue reading “Casual Movie Review: The Incredibles 2”

Made in Abyss – An intimate, mind-blowing, and heart breaking affair

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It’s been a long time since I binged an entire series. I can’t remember when I last did it, which is kind of alarming, but I’m glad I finally broke the dry spell. Gaming took up most of my time, as did writing, and going back to my roots, so to speak, has been quite rejuvenating. The anime under the spotlight this time is none other than the widely praised fantasy anime, Made in Abyss. Continue reading “Made in Abyss – An intimate, mind-blowing, and heart breaking affair”