When a superhero movie is reimagined, it can easily be transformed into an incredibly silly or outlandish story with nothing new to say. Or, it can have its share of absurd moments while remaining pleasantly surprising, funny and lovable.

That’s exactly what Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is. Producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie) introduce a new protagonist: Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore of Dope), who is half-black and half-Puerto Rican. Miles is going through typical adolescent angst as a high-schooler who attends an elite school in New York City, and especially as the son of stern but caring police officer Jeff (Brian Tyree Henry). Most days, Miles admits, he feels like the only person he can truly feel a strong connection with is his slacker uncle Aaron (Oscar winner Mahershala Ali)who appears to be a disappointment to the family.

One day, Miles accidentally gets bit by a radioactive spider — just as everyone knows the original Spider-Man did — and becomes sucked into multiple other parallel universes or “dimensions” where there are five other spider-people just like him: there’s Peter B. Parker(Jake Johnson of New Girl),who is perhaps the closest iteration of the beloved superhero, Gwen Stacy/Spider-woman (Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld)— yet another interpretation of a different character from the Spider-Man franchise — the dark and brooding shadowy Peter Parker known as “Spider-Man Noir” (the indelible Nicolas Cage), Peter Porker/Spider-Ham — a pig version of Spider-Man voiced by the hilarious John Mulaney — and Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), a teenage Japanese-American girl who seemingly comes from an alternate anime-like future dimension and who commands a bio-mechanical suit.

Although the film begins on awkward footing, with slow exposition and no initial clear direction, the plot gradually but surely starts to unravel and the humor and action rapidly become central to the story. With colorful visuals and multiple nods to previous Spider-Man films — as well as uses of comedic comic-book images, sounds and descriptions — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse reminds you that being different isn’t always such a bad thing after all, especially when you have a bunch of weird friends you share something in common with. Peter B. Parker’s big belly from eating and drinking too much junk food and sarcastic one-liners toward Miles are golden, and he essentially serves as the young protagonist’s de-facto mentor for all things related to being Spider-Man. The villain — Wilson Fisk/Kingpin from Marvel’s Daredevil comic book and Netflix series — is very cartoonish, with broad shoulders and a deep, angry voice (Liev Schreiber), but a personal and familial side-plot is added for him that is rare seen in animated superhero films.

Add an unexpected plot twist and a stellar voice cast — which also includes Kathryn HahnChris Pine and Lily Tomlin — and you have yourself a wildly entertaining film that was certainly deserving of the Oscar and Golden Globe Awards for Best Animated Film, even as lovable as Incredibles 2 was. There’s even a brief animated cameo by late Marvel legend Stan Lee!

Blu-ray special features include Alternate Universe Mode, with includes alternate scenes, plot lines, characters and more with directors Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman serving as guides. There’s also two lyric videos, one of which is for the original song “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee. Other features include the original short Spider-Ham: Caught In a Ham, We Are Spider-Man, Spider-Verse: A New Dimension and tributes to Stan Lee and Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko. There’s also a featurette that showcases the film’s voice cast.


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