Wow, lots to unpack here.
Besides the great story, incredible art and visuals, fantastic soundtrack, there is also the very bold casting choices that were made that I really feel complete this movie and ultimately put it on the top shelf. So bear with me while I really appreciate the casting risks that paid off here...
Some of the casting choices are your standard fare: Chris Pine, Hailee Steinfeld (who was great as a very low-key Gwen Stacy), Zoe Kravitz as MJ, and even Mahershala Ali (who is a KEY driver for why this movie elevates so high) as Uncle Aaron (what an incredible complicated character for a CARTOON about Spider-Man). But... I think it's the risky and bold casting choices that ultimately make this movie so incredible: Lily Tomlin as Aunt May was a brilliant choice, Nicolas Cage as a noir Spider-man is simply almost an impossible choice to believe but he KILLS it as this character, and I can't say enough good things about John Mulaney as Spider-Ham. What a huge risk that paid-off. Btw, I still can't figure who Liev Schreiber was in the movie. No idea.
Ok, enough about the awesome cast. The visuals are so breathtaking that it speaks to how much trouble I had choosing a good thumbnail for this review. I just wanted to put a bunch of Gwen Stacy pics, but I was able to resist.
I took my 7-yr old girl to see it and she LOVED it, asking to see it again for the next two days (which is a rare thing). So the appeal to kids and adults alike is a total slam-dunk.
This is the most effective way I've ever seen Kingpin portrayed either. He literally fills the screen of any scene he's in. Again, just a huge bold choice with how to have him interpreted for this. I would love to have been a fly on the wall in some of the early round-tables on artistic direction for this movie. I wonder what ideas got thrown out given some of these bigger risks they went with.
I'm sure it's been said, but this really is the best Spider-Man movie yet. Couldn't stop laughing, couldn't stop being completely and utterly amazed. One of the best of the year.
Heart rating: 5 stars
Brain rating: 4.5 stars