Spider-Verse review

In their own ways, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Mary Poppins Returns are franchise blockbusters that expand upon strong roots. Though they don’t really overlap, both use the idea of legacy to awaken something within their main characters. They also lead to the idea that what their characters have looking for has been right in front of them all along. Armed with relentless spectacle and well-natured fun, these films are sensory assaults overflowing with heart and affecting performances. Of the two, Spider-Verse is the truly revolutionary one, but Mary Poppins’ latest outing still has the right amount of magic. Each are worth seeking out on the big screen. 

Spider-Verse centers on Miles Morales (Shameik Moore). After his first day at an elite boarding school, he’s bitten by a radioactive spider. This leads him to a secret lab where Kingpin has opened a door to parallel universes. In trying to close this rift, Peter Parker Spider-Man (Chris Pine) is mortally wounded, but not before he meets Miles and realizes that they’re the same. Miles promises to complete Parker’s mission, but soon realizes that Spideys from multiple dimensions have been stranded in his universe. Miles and co are suddenly in a race to prevent Kingpin from destroying reality itself, all while getting everyone home. 

Spider-Verse review Shameik Moore

Quite frankly, Spider-Verse is a miracle of a film. After countless Peter Parker iterations, this film understands that it’s time to move on. It’s absolutely reverent and not ashamed of the past, but also racing toward a brave new future. There are wonderful tributes to past films and stories sprinkled throughout, but by rooting the story from Miles’ coming of age, the film opens up an inclusive universe that is breathtakingly huge. With its personal slant, the film boasts an action-packed, multi-dimensional plot that is literally bursting at the seams without ever losing focus. 

Blending heart-stopping animation with a wide-range of cheeky characters, the film essentially becomes a call-to-action. At base level, its message is that anyone can wear the mask. This accentuates the idea that Spider-Man is not a hero because of the costume or powers, but because of his or her instinct to always do the right thing, no matter what the cost. Needless to say, the film transcends the screen and years of mythology. It turns a timeless, heroic symbol into a challenge to do better. This is imaginative, fun, visual storytelling with so much purpose, and it calls for repeated viewings to deepen an already dense experience.

Mary Poppins Returns Emily Blunt review

Mary Poppins Returns doesn’t push forward in the same way, but still makes a thin premise feel justified. The story picks up a few decades past the original. Now, Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane Banks (Emily Mortimer) are adults and have fallen on hard times. After the loss of his wife, Michael’s home is about to be repossessed, and he can’t bring himself to let his three kids know. Enter Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt), back when she’s needed most. Mary returns to reset Michael, Jane and family’s focus amidst the hardship. By turning the original film’s kids into adults with their own struggles, this sequel functions both as soft-reboot and continuation. 

This is a film that in which what we see, is exactly what we get. What’s on display is nothing less than overwhelming spectacle of the highest order. Each scene is a dizzying explosion of color and joy, upheld by new musical numbers and an ensemble who nails the sincerity. There’s a genuine romanticism that feels fresh, and the film hardly stops to catch its breath. Amidst all the singing and dancing, nothing feels out of place. Blunt is also an uncanny successor to Julie Andrews’ strict but compassionate nanny. Lin Manuel Miranda’s Jack is just as endearing. Still, the film feels more like sugar than medicine. If someone can’t appreciate the joy of this film, they’re probably dead, but the film’s fluff might feel understandably insubstantial for some.

All in all, Spider-Verse and Mary Poppins Returns are great. The former is a masterpiece, and the latter is family fun done right. These are two films that will cater to different audiences with different appetites. You can’t really can’t go wrong with either. Personally, midway through Spider-Verse, I knew it was going to be one of the best film’s I’d seen all year. We get Nic Cage as a black-and-white Noir Spider-Man, there’s a cameo that choked me up, and the more I think of it, the more the feels come out. It’s a breathtaking experience that hits all the marks and nails a depth rarely seen in superhero films.