Share this article

print logo

A parents guide to ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," the seventh big-screen entry for Marvel’s beloved webslinger, is the only animated film this year that can comfortably fit on the Top 10 list for a 10-year-old superhero junkie and a paunchy, late-thirtysomething film critic.

It is the finest superhero film in a year that featured some pretty darn good ones — “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Incredibles 2,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” “Teen Titans Go to the Movies.” And its meta approach to storytelling makes for an invigorating experience that also carries powerful messages (the importance of self-belief, the support of family and friends) for wee Spideys.   

What’s the story? Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his reality and crosses paths with a diverse group counterparts from other dimensions — an alternate Peter Parker, Spider-Woman, 1930s-styled Spider-Man Noir, an anime version (Peni Parker), and, most delightfully, Spider-Ham (a.k.a., Peter Porker) — to stop a threat to all reality.

Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) becomes his favorite superhero in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse." (Sony Pictures Entertainment)

The LSD-flashback visuals and brisk story are key elements to the success of “Spider-Verse,” but the characters are its greatest asset. Miles is a charming lead, and the same can be said for almost every character in the film, from comics’ favorite Gwen Stacy to Miles’ loving parents. (Not to mention porcine powerhouse Spider-Ham.)

What’s the rating? PG for frenetic sequences of animated action violence, thematic elements and mild language. There are sequences of great intensity, villains Kingpin and the Prowler are a bit scary, and little ones with arachnophobia won’t like the creepy-crawlies. There are some heavy themes at play and a surprising and unsettling death early in the film.

What’s the ideal viewing age? Having an 8-year-old often leads me to consider 8 to be the cutoff, and that’s probably a flawed analysis. However, I stand by it. The action and themes make that age and above a fit for the “Spider-Verse.” Younger kids will have a hard time keeping up.

One nice element is that a viewer need not be a serious Spidey scholar to enjoy the film. There are some razor-sharp jokes for those in the know (including a killer “Spider-Man 3” reference a few minutes in), but the focus on Miles Morales lends a real freshness to the proceedings. There are moments that recall some of the character’s greatest big-screen adaptations. (We’re talking the first two Tobey Maguire films and 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” starring Tom Holland.) But “Spider-Verse” swings to its own bold beat.

Is there anything else parents need to consider? The film is nearly two hours long, a taxing run time for kiddos. But there are clear (dialogue-driven) moments that are ideal for bathroom breaks. Oh, one more thing: After seeing many superhero films, kids race from the theater desperate to browse the toy aisles. “Into the Spider-Verse” is no exception. The difference is that this time, thanks to the freshness of the film and its messages, you won’t mind that slow crawl through Target. Yep, Spidey is that good.

There are no comments - be the first to comment