Back in 2018, a new Spider-Man film broke the mold with Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse which took a brilliant new animation approach to the MCU. It's not Peter Parker but rather Miles Morales who learns about the multi-verse where there are countless Spider-people from different alternate universes. The film had a ton of heart, comedy, and action, not to mention an incredible visual style. Due to its success both financially and critically, the powers that be sanctioned a sequel titled Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse - Highest Recommendation!
Newcomers Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson step into the Director's chair with powerhouse Writers/Producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller returning for this epic animated adventure that delivers on all fronts. Sequels usually try and go bigger, faster, and smarter. And Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse does just that, but it also feels more grounded in many of its areas with its more melodramatic moments of growing up and moving forward. There's a delicate balance to walk here and this film sticks a perfect landing.
In the first installment, the movie centered on Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) who is thrust into a universe of endless possibilities inside the multi-verse where met new Spider characters along the way including Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld). In this sequel, the film follows Morales just as much as it centers on Stacy as the two young adults try and understand their powers and that the multi-verse exists while keeping it all secret from their loved ones. It's a great parallel story where each character can learn from one another in different ways.
In Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse the tone is about becoming an adult and spreading one's wings to figure out what one wants to be as Morales is hounded by his parents about his school work and staying close to home during his college years. After something goes awry in Stacy's universe, she is called into action by a collective of Spider-people from all universes to try and save the day when and wherever they can. Headed by Spider-Man 2099 Miguel O'Hara (Oscar Isaac) this collective allows Stacy to reteam with Morales who wants nothing more than to help out and be the best he can be. Just as he finally feels like he's being accepted, Milese soon realizes that his views of being a hero clash with Miguel's and the collective of Spider-people forcing Miles and Gwen to question their beliefs of right and wrong.
It's a brilliant narrative that can relate to any young generation growing up facing the real world where one might believe in a fantasy-like scenario of receiving the best news and opportunity, only to find out there is a seedy underbelly of how things really work. And it's a ton of fun to watch unfold on screen with everyone's impeccable voice performances. The visual style also adds a great deal of depth and is not the stereotypical Pixar-like animation, but rather a punk-rock style that breathes and comes alive in the background when characters emote. Those colors and paintings act as characters in the film with its rich, and beautiful renderings of the cityscape and the multi-verses. This all runs alongside the main villain known as Spot played perfectly by Jason Schwartzman who is colorless and wants to destroy everything that Spider-Man loves. Most villains are quick, suave, and built for war immediately, but with Spot, there is an original and different approach of someone brand new to the villain arena who doesn't quite nail his evil the way he might like to. In fact, he's very polite and witty, which is even scarier in the long run.
Not only does Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse house those tender and nuanced scenes between two characters struggling over their emotions and right and wrong, but it also implores some of the greatest and most-fun action scenes committed to film, whether it be animation or live-action. The way the camera moves through the animation allows for so many people to get a shot at shining in the spotlight. Additionally, there are so many crescendo moments where audiences will shout with glee. Prepare though for an abrupt ending, because this is a multi-part that leaves this film on a big cliffhanger. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse is a joyous experience that fully explores this character more than ever so before. Highest Recommendation!