Parts of this article are from NNPA News Wire Film Critic Dwight Brown
Peter Ramsey was one of the few African American faces Sunday night who won a coveted Golden Globe award. Born in Los Angeles and raised in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles, Ramsey is an American film director known for his work on fan favorites Poetic Justice, Higher Learning, and Rise of the Guardians. Ramsey, along with fellow directors Bob Persichetti and Rodney Rothman won the Golden Globe for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for best animated feature. The film, with its mind-bending visuals, precision comic timing, and ultra-hip soundtrack has been widely praised by the public and movie critics alike.
“Anyone can wear the mask; everyone is powerful and everyone is necessary, and that is the spirit of the movie,” said Ramsey in his acceptance speech. With the story of Miles, the inner-city African American/Puerto Rican main character, Ramsey remarked, “We all felt deeply that anyone can have this kind of experience and be this kind of hero.”
In the widely praised animated film, Miles (Shameik Moore, Dope) is an inner-city African American/Puerto Rican kid from Brooklyn, NY faces a life crisis. He’s going to a private school in Manhattan, away from his friends in Brooklyn. The parental guidance that steers his child development comes from his loving African American father Jefferson Davis (Brian Tyree Henry, If Beale Street Could Talk), a cop, and his nurturing Puerto Rican mom Rio Morales (Luna Lauren Velez,Dexter), a nurse. When Miles feels he can’t talk to his parents about his apprehensions, the fledgling artist seeks counsel from his Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), a graffiti artist with a checkered past.
As Miles faces his challenges, the city is being torn apart by crime and a rogue hero, Spider-Man (Chris Pine). After being bitten by the love bug, Miles gets drawn into a battle between Spider-Man and the crime lord Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber). They’re fighting over a nuclear super collider that can open up a portal to other dimensions, a threshold that can transport various versions of Spider-Man. It’s a tough time for Miles to engage in life-or-death combat as he doesn’t know how to master his superpowers. Sticking to stuff, heightened hearing, venom strikes and the ability to make himself invisible are powers beyond his control.
The script by Phil Lord (Lego Movie, 22 Jump Street) gives Miles a character arc that lasts almost the entire movie: Innocent, insecure kid. Newly empowered superhero. Clumsy superhero. Determined apprentice, who can’t control his powers. Confident, brave warrior who needs to learn more. Leader of the pack. An initially reluctant Miles gets some advice from Spider-Man: “You’re like me.” Miles: “I don’t wanna be.” Spider-Man: “You don’t have much choice!”
With an ultra-hip musical soundtrack and songs to remember like “Sunflower,” sung by Post-Malone & Swae Lee and the very aggressive and growling song “What’s Up Danger,” performed by Blackway & Black Cavier.
Past Spider-Man movies seemed to cater to general audiences and had a very middle America feel. This version is an ode to urban folks, nerds, teens, public and private school kids, rap/hip-hop fans and those who would rather be cool than drab.
Directors Peter Ramsey (Rise of the Guardians), along with fellow directors Bob Persichetti and Rodney Rothman created a very modern, fresh and timely version of a classic franchise. With mind-bending visuals and the precision comic timing, they and the producers, tech crew and actors accomplished the impossible. They upped the animation game for everyone.