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Anyone can be Spider-Man. The new animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse defines a hero as someone who takes the opportunity to help others and perseveres through adversity.
Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) is experiencing strange, new abilities after being bitten by a spider. He happens upon a fight between Spider-Man and a monster from an “alternate dimension.” In his dying moments, Spider-Man gives Miles a key that can shut down the “collider” that evil Mr. Fisk (Liev Schreiber), the Kingpin, is using to wreak havoc on New York City and to control the portal between the Big Apple and the multiverse of other dimensions. Miles doesn’t know if he’s up to the task.
Miles gets help, though, from a cast of characters, each of whom has made a cross-dimensional trip to Earth from out in the “Spider-Verse.” Like Miles, they can climb walls and sling webs, but don’t resemble superheroes. One, Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), is a pudgy, unshaven Spider-Man who dons sweatpants. Miles asks him for advice.
“You’ll want to use baby powder in the suit—for the chafing,” Parker tells Miles.
There’s black-and-white Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage) from 1933: He becomes fascinated by a Rubik’s Cube but can’t see the colors to solve it. Miles’ Spider team also includes a teen girl, Gwen, and a pig, Spider-Ham, aka Peter Porker.
Rated PG for animated action and, by my count, two instances of “mild” language, the film targets an age group that won’t complain about the frenetic action and thin plot. It has some humor for parents, but still, I couldn’t stifle multidimensional yawns. Overall, though, a commendable message, a thread about fathers and sons, a nice plot twist, and vivid animation make for a film younger kids will enjoy and parents can tolerate.