"Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse"

I began to enjoy the film an hour into it. The storyline was not streamlined. The animation was dizzying in parts. Then, there was a twist in the film that sat me up in my seat. Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is a middle school kid with street art ambitions and dislikes his prep school, much like many real-life teenagers. When he is bitten by a radioactive spider, he discovers his power and finds a mentor in Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson).

Shameik Moore gives a thrilling voice and meets each expression of the scene. Jake Johnson is cool and collected. I would have never guessed the voice was his. He sounds a tinge like Deadpool. Hailee Steinfeld is wonderful as Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman. It did not dawn on me the connection in the case of this film. Mahershala Ali is smooth as Uncle Aaron. Bryan Tyree Henry was good as Jefferson, Miles’ dad. Luna Laura Velez is lively as Rio, Miles’ mother. Kathryn Hahn is fantastically evil as Doc Ock. I lit up when I heard Lily Tomlin’s iconic voice as she played Aunt May. Kimiko Glenn is remarkable as Peni Parker. Liev Schrieber is bold as King Pin in an overly oversized body. Zoë Kravitz, John Mulaney, Natalie Morales and Chris Pine add their voices to the astonishing ensemble.

Directors Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsey create a world that is incredible. It is true to NYC with sweeping action and brilliant color. There is a Stan Lee cameo. Daniel Pemberton composed an excellent soundtrack for the film. I was surprised with a PG rating, Biggie’s “Hypnotized” played with the uncut version but maybe kids wouldn’t recognize it. Writers Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman work a multi-layered story that eventually builds well. The made-up corporate names were funny and obvious. There was an American Idol stalling to up the drama. I appreciate the ambition to make Spider-Man a person of color, which drew me to see this film and it is beautiful to witness. If anything, remember you are never too old to tell you dad you love him.