dirs: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K Thompson
There is so much going on here.
Visually, this film, like its predecessor, pushes the possibilities of the medium (animation) by not just trying to replicate the aesthetics of the comic book format, but creating entirely new ways of displaying images, action, and the fluid transitions between them for the purposes of telling this story. And, yes, we are all completely getting sick of the multiverse stuff, but this flick manages to be extra-dimensional beyond that as well, having Miles and his mates fight in more than just four dimensions.
It's visually intense but on point, maybe a lot of it is for its own sake but there’s just so much going on, with a kind of go for broke energy, an almost terror of not getting every single brilliant idea represented, that it really asks a lot of the viewer. I’m not sure what the ideal state of mind or being is for watching this. It demands your attention, filling every frame with dense detail, and if you’re not in the right frame of mind I could see why this would be baffling / overwhelming.
And that beginning, my gods.
Miles Morales isn’t even in it for the first twenty minutes. It’s Gwen’s story up till that point. And what a story it tells, as she’s narrating to us, but alternating drumming with a band she quits and fighting an Italian Renaissance version of The Vulture, as well as finding out about some other Spider-Persons who travel through the dimensions trying to fix anomalies.
And there’s the fact that her Peter Parker died on her watch, after trying to get revenge on their version of Flash Thompson, after turning himself into The Lizard, and how her dad thinks she killed him.
Not “she” Gwen Stacy (Hailie Steinfield), but “she” Spider-Woman, the one with the white/pink hood and the ballet flats/Converse sneakers.
That intro is so good, both excellently written and delivered. And yet it’s just a part of a mosaic, one which is perhaps too complicated even for abject fans of the first film or the comic books.
Miles (Shameik Moore) is still only fifteen, and still having to keep his parents happy while he tries to balance school and his superheroics. His parents are all parent-y, so it’s the not unusual shenanigans of having to get to parent / teacher meetings, get celebratory cakes and battle the villain of the week, The Spot (Jason Schwartzman), who makes holes appear everywhere, and maintain his secret identity.
And he has to pine after Gwen, apparently.