Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse

In this rendition of Marvel’s Spiderman the world wakes up to a new Spider-man. A young black boy named Miles Morales who lives in New York City is bitten by the magic spider and he starts walking up the sides of buildings. Miles meets the Spider-man he is taking over from. He’s a jaded, overweight white boy who gallantly fights on saving the city from baddies, despite being out of shape. Then, into Miles’s dimension come various past versions of ‘Spider-man’. A funky Spider-girl (who looks like Scarlett Johansson), an eighties Japanese talking toy Spider-girl, and a hilarious sixties comic book Spider-Ham. And more. Something has gone wrong in the cosmos to cause all these Spider-men/girls to congregate in one dimension and it’s up to Miles to set it right or they’ll get sucked into a vortex and cease to exist as individuals.

This Spider-man movie is an animated one. More than that, the look and feel is intended to be that of a comic book. The characters look like drawings, the colours are washed-out like typical comic-book paper, and text appears over the characters’ heads now and then. I think that’s partly why I enjoyed Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse. It’s not a comic book posing as real life, as the other Marvel films do when they use real people. Because of the comic-book medium presented in this one, the viewer doesn’t have to pretend it’s real; they can just enjoy it for what it is – a comic. Other typical comic-book elements that appear are: humour, and characters falling from dizzying heights and yet surviving.

Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse is a tale about celebrating and preserving differences. The new Spider-man is a black boy, who comes of age in this tale. His difference from the earlier Spider versions race-wise is obvious. But the other Spider-men/girls aren’t thrown out or denigrated in any way. They all have something to contribute for who they are and the presentation is tasteful and unforced.

Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse opens at cinemas in South Africa today 14 December 2018. It’s an enjoyable film for adults and children alike.

 

 

Antagonist, Thanos, is the Centre Piece of Avengers: Infinity War

I’m an outsider to the Avengers universe. Where have I been? I don’t know, somewhere else. Superheroes and lots of crashing, bashing and blowing things up in space aren’t really my thing. But there was a big build-up to Avengers: Infinity War so I felt I had to see it.

In this film Thanos, the baddie, is up against pretty much every other character that features. He spends his time going around from planet to planet wiping out populations so as to restore some balance to the overpopulated universe. And to make himself master of it of course. Thanos is not an all-out baddie. He’s complex. Despite his enormous, ugly size, he’s soft-spoken. And his soft-spoken arguments for genocide seem, well, nice: he simply longs for a return to peace and harmony. But sacrificing millions of living beings for that serenity is what sets up the tension with the goodies. Unlike Thanos, the goodies care about individuals. They’re the characters that I think Marvel fans have come to love. So they, and the people they strive to protect, matter. They’re Thor, Dr Strange, Iron Man, Spider Man, Black Panther, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, the lovely Guardians of the Galaxy, and others I couldn’t identify.

But does Thanos really care for no-one? The answer to this question adds to Thanos’s complexity and is the catalyst for a devastating outcome that I’m not allowed to say anything about.

To help him in his quest to be master of the universe, Thanos sets about collecting the six infinity stones. With them ensconced in the special glove he wears on his left hand, Thanos will be unstoppable. (Much like Sauron in The Lord of the Rings would have been had he snatched the ring of power from Frodo Baggins). Seeking out and taking the infinity stones (named time, space, reality, power, mind and soul), through lots of battling, is what comprises the plot of Avengers: Infinity Wars.

I thought the mind-boggling array of important characters would detract from the movie, that they would fight for the limelight and that this would somehow dilute the story. But it doesn’t. Also, the humour in the film is a lovely touch and keeps it from becoming too dark, serious and – well – boring.

To the movies then! Avengers: Infinity War opens at South African cinemas on 27 April 2018 in 2D, 3D and IMAX.

If you need help understanding the lead-up to this latest film, watch this: