Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (4 stars)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Exhilarating, imaginative animation co-written by The Lego Movie's Phil Lord

Before you groan 'not another Spider-Man', this exhilarating animated adventure is different. Really different. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse dispenses with that same old origin story that has seen Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland play Marvel's web-slinging superhero in live action. Instead, we meet Miles Morales, first introduced in the comics in 2011 by Brian Michael Bendis. Voiced by Shameik Moore, he's an average kid living in a New York populated by Peter Parker – now 26 – and his crime-fighting alter-ego Spider-Man.

Miles' Dad (Brian Tyree Henry) is a straitlaced cop, but his Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali) is a bit cooler, taking him on graffiti raids in Brooklyn's underground tunnels. While there, Miles gets bitten by a radioactive spider and inherits some familiar-sounding arachnid abilities. He meets the real Spider-Man, trying to prevent crime lord Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) from using a super-collider to open up alternate dimensions. Then Spider-Man dies, and the film really gets wild.

Scripted with the same energy and verbal dexterity as the hip-hop that fills the soundtrack, it's co-written by Phil Lord (of The Lego Movie fame) and Rodney Rothman, one of three directors alongside Peter Ramsey and Bob Persichetti. Tipping its hat to the comics' own rebirths of the character, Miles soon encounters several other 'Spider'-people from parallel universes, including the 1933 Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage) that pitched up in a 2009 four-part comic run.

It's hugely imaginative, matched by the animation style, which uses CG and hand-drawn to create the feeling of a comic come to life. Better still, with nods to Looney Tunes (there is even a 'That's all Folks!' joke) and Japanese anime, it's frequently hilarious – a coming-of-age meets middle-aged malaise story, as Miles gets tutored by a divorced Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) still mooning after Mary Jane. Go see it – it's a true original.

General release from Wed 12 Dec.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

  • 4 stars
  • 2018
  • US
  • 1h 57min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
  • Cast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Nicolas Cage

Miles Morales (Moore) is an average kid living in a New York where Spider-Man exists, but he then gets bitten himself by a radioactive spider and starts developing familiar abilities. Hugely imaginative animated adventure which dispenses with the familiar origin story and looks like a comic come to life. Hilarious…