A Veteran Animator Appraises INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

J.J. Sedelmaier swings with Miles, Peter, Gwen and co. …

Have you seen Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse? Go see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Seriously, it’s everything you’ve been hearing – dazzling and ground-breaking, an exhilarating comic book come to life. No wonder it won the Golden Globe – and will probably win the Oscar. (How cool would Oscar-winning Spider-Man be?)

Seeing such artistry on screen inspired me to contact veteran animator and occasional 13th Dimension contributor J.J. Sedelmaier to get his somewhat unique perspective.

Besides his award-winning commercial work, J.J.’s known for Saturday Night Live’s The Ambiguously Gay Duo and Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen.

Here’s what’s on his Spider-Mind. – Dan


The past couple of months have been filled with a lot of buzz regarding the new Spider-Man film. I honestly can’t recall so much unsolicited chatter being generated since The Iron Giant premiered almost 20 years ago. I figured I’d make a point of seeing it soon, especially since there’s a gazillion-plex theater 50 feet from our apartment.

But lo and behold, I received a DVD screener of Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse via ASIFA (the international animation “guild” that I’m a member of) – because it’s VOTING TIME!

I watched it on a large plasma screen and…

Holy shit!

This film is truly special – it actually feels like a new form of entertainment. It’s as chock full of different design and animation sensibilities as any film I’ve ever seen, and it is as thoroughly enjoyable as can be. The story is just plain fun, and it all works – and most importantly, it always seems to take advantage of inhabiting the world of animation.

The use of CG animation has been played with in terms of exposure/timing, so it’s not always unnaturally smooth – they’ve step-framed certain sequences so the movement sometimes has a staccato feel to it. Sometimes it even feels like its motion-capture supported, but I like it!

The film has not just one director, but three in total. It does feel like it’s driven by more than one vision, but it flows well and it all works. As I was watching it, I found myself in awe of the process that must have developed to produce this monster – then I gave up and just let it lead me through a wonderful experience. Even the cinematography technique is awesome.

So, here’s the deal: Teenager and student Miles Morales (making the transition from public school to boarding school) is struggling through the normal issues confronting a Brooklyn urban existence. His mom’s a Latina nurse and his dad’s an African-American cop. His relationship with his parents is good and he wishes to please. (Miles is into tagging his graffiti around the neighborhood, but that’s about as rebellious as he gets.)

He has a close relationship with his dad’s brother, the family’s black sheep, and it exposes him to the seedy underside of life. It’s also during a visit and instructional subway tagging session with his uncle that Miles is bitten by a strangely empowered spider.

It’s a variation of the classic Spider-Man story and ultimately, Miles finds himself teaming up with Spider-Folks from other universes – including an over-the-hill version of the original (Peter Parker), Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham and others — to fight the Kingpin and other classic Spider-Man nemeses.

The different versions reflect animation/film genres — from black-and-white film noir to cartoony Hollywood and even anime. It’s a rich, inclusive combo.

If my enthusiasm seems a bit over the top, believe me, I’m as surprised as anyone to have been affected so strongly. But I think you’ll be just as enthusiastic after seeing it yourself.

MORE by J.J. Sedelmaier

— The ’67 SPIDER-MAN Cartoon Has More Going For it Than You Think. Click here.

— FILMATION’s Lou Scheimer: An Appreciation. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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