Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse 'builds confidently on stylistic flourishes and visual palettes of first film'
SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE (PG, 140 mins) Animation/Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Romance. Featuring the voices of Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Jason Schwartzman, Oscar Isaac, Issa Rae, Daniel Kaluuya, Jake Johnson, Shea Whigham, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Velez. Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K Thompson.
Released: June 2
WE ALL want to live the life we wish we had. So professes a conflicted character in the plot-rich and visually stunning sequel to the "pretty hardcore origin story" Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, which won the 2019 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.
Directed at a breathless pace by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K Thompson, Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse is a dizzying tumble through Marvel Comics storylines that interlace the tragic fates of more than 100 iterations of a web-slinging hero who we have predominantly known as Peter Parker until now.
Like its predecessor, the sequel champions diversity and inclusion with a rapidly expanding menagerie of anthropomorphic spider-folks of every conceivable shape, size and composition.
In-jokes abound as scriptwriters Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Dave Callaham barely touch narrative brakes during the frenetic opening salvo of a two-part escapade that concludes in summer 2024 when Spider-Man: Beyond The Spider-Verse swings into cinemas.
Groundwork laid here is rock solid and an audacious 140-minute running time feels just right, building to a dramatic crescendo amplified by composer Daniel Pemberton's energetic score that truly whets appetites for an apocalyptic showdown akin to Avengers: Endgame.
On Earth-1610, Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) struggles to disclose his web-slinging secret identity to parents Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry) and Rio (Luna Lauren Velez).
Escalating tension between family members coincides with the emergence of a blundering villain called The Spot (Jason Schwartzman), who will play a pivotal role in the battle between good and evil in parallel realities.
Meanwhile, on Earth-65, Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) continues to hide her heroic alter ego from father George (Shea Whigham), a captain in the New York Police Department who believes Ghost Spider is responsible for the death of Gwen's bullied classmate Peter Parker.
During a battle with an airborne villain, Gwen learns about the existence of the Spider Society led by Miguel O'Hara (Oscar Isaac), which is devoted to healing rifts in the Spider-Verse. Gwen enrols with this band of misfits, including pregnant motorcyclist Jessica Drew (Issa Rae), Hobie aka Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya) and Peter B Parker (Jake Johnson), to neutralise the threat posed by a dimension-hopping menace and potentially reunite with Miles.
Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse builds confidently on the stylistic flourishes and visual palettes of the first film, using on-screen cues to distinguish each dimension and its colourful denizens.
Comic book traditions are lovingly retained, like when Hobie remarks, "I ain't got a Scooby Doo", and an on-screen boxed caption defines the Cockney slang for 'clue'. Snappy dialogue laden with one-liners and moving vocal performances, particularly from Moore and Steinfeld, leave our Spider-sense tingling with unfettered delight.
Dos Santos, Powers and Thompson exercise their collective power with great responsibility.