Dear Fellow Critics,
When was the last time you felt like a kid?
I don’t mean when was the last time you felt joy from childish activities like jumping on a trampoline or laughing at fart jokes.
I mean, when was the last time you witnessed something with such doe-eyed wonderment that you forgot your place in this world and just let it wash over you.
I can tell you my moment. It was during my viewing of the universe-hopping, mind-bending spectacle that is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. And that’s exactly why it’s my pick for best film of 2018.
My intro probably sets this piece up as some morose view into how growing up is essentially your soul being torn apart by various adult responsibilities. It’s not! But it does serve as a nod to how we tend to dismiss things as we get older.
Animated movies, for example, tend to lose their charm the older we get. We see them as something we did when we were kids, but we don’t necessarily focus on how they made us feel. The majority of adult moviegoers will only step foot in an animated movie again once they have kids themselves.
It’s why movies like Sausage Party are a thing. They take what we remember about kid’s movies; the cute characters, the bright colors, the positivity—and inject some good ol’ fashioned adult humping. It’s what we know and value now so we don’t question it. We accept that without these traits, the movie will be just another cartoon and hence, not worth changing our bias.
Even though I love animated movies and prefer the emotional value they bring over live-action releases, I still find myself walking in with said adult biases. I can’t get as fully immersed as I would when I was younger because I’m expecting a certain gag, trope, or musical number which will ultimately warp my perception.
And that’s why Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is such an important movie. It is the first time in a long while where my biases were overpowered by the amazing sequence of events happening on screen. That’s impressive since I had some strong biases going in.
The biggest being, I was worried that Spider-Man was one blip away from over-saturation.
In case you weren’t paying attention, 2018 was the year of Spider-Man. First, Tom Holland broke hearts in Avengers: Infinity War with his emotional dusting sequence. Then, Spider-Man for the PS4 was a bonafide smash hit, kickstarting an unprecedented Marvelgaminguniverse. And then, the infamous Venom was released, with announcements of standalone films for Morbius the Living Vampire and Kraven the Hunter (to name a few) also dropping by Sony.
With all this commotion, I was ready for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to fail at the box office because viewers were tired of the wallcrawler and didn’t want another movie, let alone one with seven spider entities. Or, perhaps, the concept of multiple universes was too confusing for general audiences. Whatever the reason, I was ready for the worst.
But that’s the power of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Not only did itmanage to refresh Spider-Man despite being in the public eye all year, it completely shattered whatever preconceived notions I had. It took any bias I was holding on to and melted it into a fine paste with its glitch-tastic web-slinging action.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is unlike anything audiences have seen before. It truly is a triumph that marries creativity with modern-day technology to create a whole new way to tell a story. The way all the elements interacted on-screen was the product of careful deliberation and attention to detail. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse set out to change our perceptions of animated movies and the role they play in the modern film ecosystem. And the only way they could do that was to shock the system.
The movements in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse are fluid yet sporadic. The style is dangerous, yet playful. The characters are two-dimensional in practice yet three-dimensional in motive. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is chaotic in every sense of the word yet perfectly cohesive at the same time.
It is the type of movie that is so overwhelming it can snap any adult out of their headspace and transport them to a simpler time via a rip in the space-time continuum; when crayons didn’t follow lines and our creativity was unhinged and glorious. Had someone looked at my face during the screening of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the only difference between my expression and that of 8-year me would be the amount of hair on my chin.
Despite knowing the Spider-Man lore for years, I felt as if I was seeing it for the first time. I’ve seen every iteration of Doctor Octopus but was not expecting to see a genderbending version with blobulous surgical tubes instead of metal tentacles. Or to see Scorpion swap out his green exoskeleton suit for mechanical implants and tribal makeup. Or see Green Goblin go from crazed business man to a fucking gargoyle. It was shocking for a long-time fan and so unexpected that I didn’t have time to fly into nerd rage.
I felt in my core everything that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse had to offer and reacted accordingly. If I found something funny, I didn’t just chuckle. I belly-laughed. If I was shocked, I didn’t cock an eyebrow, I dropped my jaw and cupped my mouth with my hand. And if I was amazed, my eyes dilated to the size of saucers and I leaned forward in my chair.
By the time the credits rolled, and I came back to reality, I was full of joy. The type of joy that can only come from getting lost in an experience as marvellous as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
So, to tie it all back, I ask you again, my fellow critics. When was the last time you felt like a kid?
If you’re 1) having trouble finding the answer, or 2) forgot what that feels like, then have I got a movie for you.