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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Blu-Ray Review

March 19, 2019 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Blu-Ray Review  

The Miles Morales version of Spider-Man received the spotlight in last year’s hit CG-animated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. In this rousing superhero origin and coming of age story, Miles Morales has to team up with Spider heroes from different dimensions in order to protect the multiverse. After a successful run in theaters, the film is now available on 4K Ultra-HD, Blu-ray and DVD. Sony Pictures Entertainment provided 411 with an early review copy of the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack for this exceptional animated comic book adventure.

The Movie:

Author’s Note: This is taken from my earlier theatrical review of the film.

Sony Pictures Animation’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse marks the first big screen animated feature into the world of the legendary Wall-Crawler. It’s a highly stylized, unique action-adventure romp that captures the feeling of becoming Spider-Man and offers up a fresh story involving Miles Morales, who later donned the mantle of Spider-Man in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man.

Young Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is a budding artist who is transferring over to an upper-class private school in Brooklyn, much to his chagrin. His police officer father, Jefferson (Bryan Tyree Henry), is a stern but reasonable man who is trying to push his son further, but Miles is more interested creating his graffiti art design and wanting to go back to his old school.

One night, Miles meets up with his family’s estranged uncle, Aaron Davis (Mahershala Ali), and they go where Miles can tag a wall in an underground, secluded area of Brooklyn. It is here where Miles has an unwitting encounter with an Alchemax spider, which bites Miles eventually granting him similar powers to Spider-Man, along with some other unique abilities.

After Miles’ spider powers start manifesting, he attempts to return to the scene of the spider bite only to discover the area is not far from a massive battle between Spider-Man, the Green Goblin and the Prowler. This Spider-Man is Peter Parker. It’s a Peter Parker in his 20s who has been on the job for about a decade and is still in the prime of his life. Things are going well for him until this one slip-up. Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) is attempting to activate a SuperCollider to open other dimensions. After being gravely injured by the fallout from the device, Peter gives Miles a special kill key to disable the device as reactivating it could destroy the entire city. Unfortunately, this is the one battle Spider-Man was not able to walk away from, and Miles now feels its his duty to pick up where Peter Parker left off and assume the role of Spider-Man.

However, Kingpin’s SuperCollider had some strange side effects as it pulls in denizens from other dimensions, including another Spider-Man. This is Peter B. Parker (Johnson), who is the Spider-Man in his dimension, except while Chris Pine’s Peter was like the idyllic version of the webhead, Jake Johnson’s Peter has been whacked over a lot more with that “Typical Parker Luck.” This version of Peter Parker is older, more jaded and cynical than the one who died, but he is still Spider-Ma. After a rather painful meet cute between the alternate Peter and Miles at the other Peter’s grave, they then form a reluctant mentor-student partnership in order to destroy the SuperCollider and return Peter back to his dimension.

Co-directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman have created an impressive, rousing animated adventure with Spider-Verse. The film has imbued with a unique style all of its own. There has never been a CG animated feature that looks quite like this before. The animation looks like a mix of comic book and pop graffiti art brought to life onscreen.

Considering Miles’ love for graffiti art mixed with a classic, iconic comic book style, this makes Spider-Verse a more thrilling, unique visualization that’s usually never utilized by CG animated features. The appearance of the other Spider heroes later in the film also allows the animators to showcase different animated visual styles. Peni Parker (Glenn) resembles a 2D anime style, Spider-Ham (Mulaney) is reminiscent of classic Warner Bros. cartoons and Noir (Nicholas Cage) is drawn all in black-and-white and visualized in a 1930s hard-boiled, pulp style.

The main drawback to the animation for Spider-Verse that, at times, the look is visually jarring. Sometimes the character movement looks a bit choppy and less fluid. Additionally, the visual looks is akin to that effect of looking at magazine or comic book art with a magnifying glass. So, the screen is filled with Ben-Day dots, and the edges of models are doubled over. This makes the film experience similar to watching a 3D film without the 3D glasses.

Where the style excels is the use of comic book-esque panels, word balloons and sound effect text to really underscore amazing, kinetic action scenes or the backstory interludes. The filmmakers use a comic book editing style that’s way more effective for Spider-Versethan say the Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk movie. That style backfired there because the editing didn’t really match what was happening onscreen. They were at odds. In Spider-Verse, the comic book editing is completely in-sync with the story.

Sadly, one thing that Spider-Verse emphasizes is how much of a tragedy it is that Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk will likely never meet Tom Holland’s Peter Parker on film or have Kingpin in a live-action Spidey movie in the foreseeable future. That said, one of the greatest aspects for Spider-Verse is the ability to once again showcase Kingpin as a rogue for Spider-Man.

Kingpin, who originated as a Spider-Man rogue, finally returns as a heavy for the Wall-Crawler. Liev Schreiber puts in a great vocal performance for Wilson Fisk, who is given an appropriate, unique and larger-than-life design for the story. Fortunately, if this is the one time Kingpin gets to appear as a villain in a Spidey film, the directors and writers definitely made it count.

The main drawback to the story is that due to the nature of the narrative, everything has to happen and change rather quickly, as there is a ticking clock at work. Everything happens and changes for Miles rather quickly. There isn’t very much time to let the plot breathe a little. It seems like there could’ve been a little more time to underscore Peter and Miles’ relationship as that’s the central bond and relationship.

As entertaining as it is to have the other Spider heroes in the story, their appearance takes a lot of focus away from Miles and Peter. While Miles emerging as a hero and carrying on the legacy of Spider-Man is the main point, the second and third acts get a bit mired in establishing subplots for the likes of Spider-Woman, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir and Pani Parker.

While Spider-Ham, Pani and Noir are incredibly entertaining and visually interesting to watch, they are very much tertiary, borderline background characters. They are little more than comic relief, mostly one-note gags and easily could’ve been cut from this story. Gwen Stacy (Steinfeld) at least seemed to have some actual agency and a place within the story throughout the entire runtime.

The humor in Spider-Verse works really well. Since this is a hyper-stylized animated film, writers co-writers Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman are able to get away with quite a bit in terms of lots of fourth wall-breaking humor and meta-jokes. This is a universe that’s very much aware of the Spider-Man mythos and plays around with that, such as a pointed poke at one of the more infamous scenes from Spider-Man 3. Producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller imbued a similar post-modern self-referential style found in The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman movie, but it’s dialed down a few degrees and works very well.

Spider-Verse does a really great job of pushing the everyman, coming-of-age story through Miles. This is an origin story, but mixing in the other Spider Heroes, along with an older and more jaded Peter as his mentor, really do a good job of underscoring Miles’ journey as upholding the legacy of Spider-Man. Frankly, Spider-Verse even manages to hit certain emotional notes even better than Marvel Studios’ own Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Blu-Ray Info: The Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy release for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a two-disc version. It’s packaged in a standard Blu-ray clamshell case with translucent blue plastic. There’s a slip cover for the Blu-ray case. The main feature and special features are in a single Blu-ray disc. The second disc is the DVD version of the lone feature. There’s also an insert with a download code for the digital HD version of the film.

Video Info: The blu-ray for the first season is presented in a 1080p HD format and a 2.31.1 aspect ratio. The image for the Blu-ray set looks very crisp and clear. The film definitely features a unique visual style that comes across well on Blu-ray, evoking a dynamic, comic book art style. The filmmakers definitely pulled off creating a unique comic book visual style, despite some of my misgivings over the visuals.

Audio Info: The Blu-ray set has a DTS-HDMA primary sound track. Optional language tracks in Spanish and French are also included. There are optional subtitles in English, French, and Spanish. Daniel Pemberton created a strong, heroic and dynamic score for the film that makes for a pretty good theme for Miles Morales. Honestly, it has a stronger theme score for Morales than what was composed for Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Special Features: While this is only a single Blu-ray disc release (not counting the DVD version of the feature), there’s a very generous amount of extras that definitely makes this a good addition for your home video collection, especially for Spidey fans. Here’s a look at the Blu-ray extras.

Alternate Universe Mode: This is quite possibly the best feature of the film. This is literally an alternate rough cut of the film with some restored footage, dialogue and beats. It’s not quite a director’s cut, but it comes off like an alternate cut that was likely screened to test audiences before the film was finished and released in theaters. This definitely makes the set a must-buy. Some of the restored deleted footage and scenes are only in animatic form, some have rough CG animation, so it’s definitely a rough cut. Nonetheless, it’s nice to see an alternate edit of the film with extra scenes. For example, Miles’ roommate Ganke has a much bigger subplot that was cut from the film. It’s probably for the best it was cut with so many other characters to service. That said, it’s nice to see the extra footage of Ganke here. Think of this like getting a rough, unfinished director’s cut along with the theatrical cut of the film. It’s rare to get a bonus feature like this for an already great film, so having this on the Blu-ray edition was a nice treat.

Filmmaker Commentary: As a group commentary, it’s very lively with plenty of informative factoids and anecdotes about the film production. It’s overall a solid commentary track and a nice addition.

Spider-Ham: Caught In a Ham: Sony produced a new original, animated short for the Blu-ray release starring Peter Porker, aka the Spectacular Spider-Ham. This is a four-minute short from Titmouse Animation, where Spider-Ham faces Dr. Craw-Daddy. It’s a cute, little short that’s like a mix of Looney Tunes and SpongeBob.

We Are Spider-Man: This is an eight-minute featurette that explores the themes of Spider-Man and features some new cast and crew interviews, and Shameik Moore talking about the significance of playing the Miles Morales version of Spidey.

Spider-Verse: A New Dimension: This is another short behind-the-scenes featurette looking into the art style of the film and translating the comic book style to create something that was very different and unique for the franchise, since it’s basically seventh feature for the Wall-Crawler.

The Ultimate Comics Cast: This is a 15-minute behind-the-scenes look at the casting for the film. There’s some recording footage of the cast recording their scenes, including Nicholas Cage as Spider-Man Noir.

A Tribute to Stan lee & Steve Ditko: This is an eight-minute short spotlighting the original creators of Spider-Man, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. We sadly lost both Ditko and Lee last year. Ditko passed away in June, and then Lee passed in November, just weeks before this film was released. The production crew talks a lot about the significance of Lee and Ditko’s work and how they really broke the mold when they created Spider-Man in the 1960s Marvel Age of comics. This is a great featurette for longtime fans of Lee and Ditko.

The Spider-Verse Super-Fan Easter Egg Challenge: The directors, writers and producers take a deep dive at the various Easter eggs in the film, from the more noticeable ones to the more obscure, blink and you’ll miss it ones. The actual count of Easter Eggs in the film is probably astronomical.

Heroes & Hams: This is a look at the various Spider Heroes who are showcased in the film and presenting them all with their own unique style and look.

Scorpions and Scoundrels: This is another featurette that coves the design and look of the iconic villains of the film.

Lyric Videos: There are two lyric videos for the songs for the film’s soundtrack to round out the release.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a great animated feature, and the Blu-ray release has a really good amount of content that fans of the film and the comics will enjoy. The Alternate Universe Mode and the filmmaker commentary make this a great addition to your home video collection. It's not often you can see a whole additional cut of the film like this on a Blu-ray release, which definitely makes this one worth looking into.