Seeking out the

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Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Directed by Kemp Powers, Joaquim Dos Santos, and Justin K. Thompson
Produced by Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Christina Steinberg
Written by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Dave Callaham Based on the Marvel Comics
With: the voices of Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Velez, Jake Johnson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Schwartzman, Issa Rae, Daniel Kaluuya, Karan Soni, Shea Whigham, Greta Lee, Mahershala Ali, Amandla Stenberg, Jharrel Jerome, Andy Samberg, Jack Quaid, Rachel Dratch, Ziggy Marley, Jorma Taccone, J.K. Simmons, Donald Glover, Elizabeth Perkins, Kathryn Hahn, Ayo Edebiri, Phil Lord, and Christopher Miller
Editing: Michael Andrews
Music: Daniel Pemberton
Runtime: 140 min
Release Date: 02 June 2023
Aspect Ratio: 2.39 : 1
Color: Color

I can not imagine an alternate universe where there is a version of me that enjoys stories about indestructible characters constantly fighting each other and collaterally destroying buildings, streets, and entire cities, all while they make dumb jokes and dump exposition on each other (and the audience). Furthermore, it's beyond me how anyone could ever find this kind of narrative entertaining. I'm obviously missing something since this constitutes about 35% of all contemporary popular entertainment today. Furthermore, I hate the concept of "the multiverse" as it is depicted in cinema, especially franchise pictures, because it seems like little more than a way to make exhausted intellectual property being remade for the fifth (or sixth or twelfth) time seem fresh by injecting meta-commentary on how tired and redundant these stories have become, and to fill a movie with callbacks and references to other versions of the same story. These trends themselves have felt tired and redundant for years now. Also, I resent movies with running times of well over two hours that are only the first half of a story and end with a cliffhanger as if they were a long-form TV show. So no, I was not too fond of this sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse any more than I enjoyed the original.

But what makes both these Miles Morales movies (this latest one in particular) far more agreeable to me than typical Marvel or DC fair is the dynamic, abstract animation style and the fact that these illustrated characters play credibly as teenagers, as opposed to live-action, grown-ass actors dressed in spandex and capes running around in front of greenscreens acting like teenagers. The Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy of these animated features, while they may be voiced by actors in their late twenties, are drawn like, and come across as, actual young people, which makes the melodramatic emotionality and wildly inconsistent tone of most superhero pictures feel far more justified and play much more palatably than watching grown men and women attempt to play these extreme feelings in worlds where there are no tangible stakes—other than, you know, the constant threat of a world-ending, or universe-ending, or multi-verse-ending catastrophe that will inevitably get thwarted.

It also helps that Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse looks fantastic. A story about a kid from present-day Brooklyn who became a superhero a while back when bitten by a radioactive spider that suddenly gets transported across the Multiverse, where he encounters an infinite number of Spider-People from other dimensions who are charged with protecting the existence of the Multiverse and determine that he doesn't belong in their Spider Society, is gonna play better as an animated movie than a live-action film. Plus, the creators of this picture don't opt for the full 3D, quasi-photorealistic approach of most animated features made in the CGI era. Each world in this picture is depicted in a different visual style with varying degrees of abstraction, yet they fit seamlessly together. At first, I thought I would grow tired of watching a movie this visually busy, but it's not the fantastic imagery that burns me out. It's... literally everything else.

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The second installment of the Miles Morales Spiderman movies is more visually dynamic than its predecessor, and superhero movies are far more palatable to me when they are animated, but I'll never enjoy a movie like this or a blockbuster that uses the multiverse concept to repackage old exhausted IP.