Miles Morales encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting the Spiderverse. When the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles must redefine what it means to be a hero.
THE GOOD STUFF
Animation– I do not mean to be the spokesperson for Earth or anything like that, but I truly feel that when referencing this movie, no matter if you are tired of superhero movies, or aren’t a fan of Spider-man, whether or not you actually intend on watching this movie…the one thing that we as a society should be able to look at and appreciate is this animation. It is hard to put into words how creatively insane this is. There are times when the backgrounds are set on the side of the screen, there are times when there are random floating patterns in the background and blurred effects, and there are times when you’ll see things like paint streaks going down the side of the screen…and not only does it work on the screen but it does kind of make sense.
The beautiful thing about a multiverse concept is that you can make it look like whatever you want it to look like. And that is something that the Sony people took and ran with. They even had the nerve to animate different Spider-Men separately. The look of Spider-Punk, for example, is ridiculously clever and executed perfectly.
If you are talking with someone who says that they love animated movies and have any complaints about the visuals in either of these Spider-verse movies… just accept the fact that they have bad taste and move on. This is art gallery-level s*** right here in practically every single frame.
Shameik Moore– When Spider-Man: no way home came out some time ago, one couldn’t avoid the conversation about who the best Spider-Man was. Funny enough, the vast majority of people went in the direction of Andrew Garfield, even though he was in the worst Spider-Man movies by a considerable distance. I find that very funny because aside from SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME… He only did two Spider-Man movies.
Well, if two is all it takes to qualify somebody into the conversation for who the best on-screen Spider-Man has ever been… then Shameik Moore has entered the chat, folks.
Before you contrarian jabronis point out to me that this is only a voice-over performance, I would like to remind you all that you guys are the same people who loved to shout out how Mark Hamill was the best Joker when Joaquin Phoenix AND Heath Ledger won their Oscars for playing the same character and the same people were screaming Kevin Conroy’s name when the Batman was released last spring.
This is just as sensational of a performance as any of the live-action Spider-Mans, and it is never un-interesting how different he makes the coming-of-age story of Miles Morales feel so contrastingly different than Peter Parker’s, all the while being the funnier character of the two.
THE GREAT SPIDER CHASE- Unless there’s a sequence in this next Spider-verse movie (not spoiling anything, they announced that there would be two more following the first movie) that is somehow even more ambitious than this, then I’m going to go ahead and say that this is the one scene that flat out empties the chamber with how much artistic valor that this series can conjure.
This is one of the best non-John Wick action sequences that have come along this year. A sequence so impressive that the theater that I saw this in roared in applause as soon as it was officially over. The best singular action sequence from any of the Spider-verse movies so far. And there have been a couple of really good ones.
FAMILY DYNAMIC- Dare I say, the first act of this movie is largely carried by the family dynamic of Miles and his mother and father. Lauren Velez and Brian Tyree Henry do such a good job as Ma and Pa Morales. I’m not going to go as far as to say that the multiple live-action portrayals of Uncle Ben/Aunt May weren’t effective in comparison, but because of the family dynamic that is here, there is a depth to Morales that never existed with any of the live-action Peter Parker portrayals. The Morales family goes a lot deeper. They feel so familiar, so relatable.
Henry is an actor who’s started just recently to get recognition for the constant superb work that he puts in (given his Oscar nomination earlier this year), and Velez has been a criminally underrated character actress for damn near the last quarter century. It’s good to see them shine in this way.
THE SPOT- It actually is really nice when comic books choose rogues that may be unfamiliar to a casual audience. There have been two very recent Spider-Man video games that were massive upon release that followed both Peter Parker and Miles Morales. Both video games had most of the familiar rogues of Spider-Man placed throughout the game…except for Spot. I can only make the assumption that casual Spider-Man fans have no idea who this villain is, and that’s all for the better.
Film iterations of Batman, Superman, and the X-Men, for example, recycle the same signature villains over and over again, even if there are remakes or versions that take place in alternate universes. It’s refreshing to see someone new pose a viable threat. Makes things fresh.
THE BAD STUFF
Spider-Punk intonations– If there is one thing to be picky about when it comes to this masterpiece of a film… It is the near incomprehensibility of Daniel Kaluuya’s performance as Spider-Punk. The character is British, I get it, but his dialogue is spoken in a near mumble in a very quick and chippy way and with a thick as expired peanut butter British accent.
There are scenes involving this character where music is playing, and action-type stuff is happening while Spider-Punk is speaking, and it just can’t be heard all that well. Hopefully, whenever this does go streaming, there can be a subtitle option simply for Spider Punks dialog. That would be really nice.
THE UGLY STUFF
I actually laughed at the notion of anything ugly being in this movie.
I’ve said in my podcast that I consider SPIDER-MAN: into the spider-verse to be my personal favorite movie of all of the 2010s, and with good reason. This is a sequel that somehow raises the bar from even that. If the next one of these Spiderverse flicks somehow manages to stick the landing set by the previous movies, then it’s only appropriate to start talking about the Spider-verse movies in a historical context.
Some people don’t like to engage in such types of conversations so soon after a film’s release, and I understand that. However, we are dealing with an animated movie that basically can’t be compared to any film in the animated field right now. It’s too beautifully animated, well acted, well written, and makes something like a multiverse make so much sense that it makes the MCU multiverse look like amateur hour.
This is the best movie of the year so far, and it’s utterly unimaginable for this not to land in the top three of the year… If nothing else.
SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE is in theaters now.