Trailer for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Dimensions (Courtesy of A.D. Matalon and Forum Film)
Score: Four stars out of five (Photo: Walla! system, image processing)
A lot has happened in Hollywood since 2018 – embarrassing cinematic events and failures, an international pandemic, an Oscar slap, careers soared and collapsed, and two filmed Spider-Man films were released. There was also a niche change – something you could miss if you're not very interested in animation – cartoons started looking a little different. Not all of them, of course, but take a look at movies like "The Mitchell Family and its War on Machines," "Puss in Boots: One Wish and Enough," "Not Bad at All" or the trailer for "Teenage Mutant Turtles: Mutant Madness" and you'll say they don't look a bit like "Spider-Man: The Spider-Dimension."
After a decade or two of an arms race in which animation studios competed over who made it bigger, more realistic and more cinematography-like, it seems that the success of "The Spider Dimension," among audiences but also at the Oscars, will regret something in approach and style. Suddenly there is more space and interest in a comic or illustrated style, for abstract moments and design experiments. In short, the sequel "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Dimensions" that opens in theaters this week no longer comes with the advantage of surprise, but with sky-high expectations - not only for a good and suspenseful story, but also for animation that is exceptional in quality and special enough to stand out for the second time. To everyone's delight, he lives up to those expectations.
Sadder than its predecessor. From "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Dimensions" (Photo: official website, Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation, courtesy of A.D. Matalon and Forum Film)
"Across the Spider Dimensions" presents one of the best animated works of recent years, with some really jaw-dropping moments. It's packed with design and movement styles, but in a way that doesn't overburden or overload the senses. On the contrary - the viewer finds himself sucked into this strange world, full of creative surprises and jokes that you will miss if you blink at the wrong time. He does all this in a way that compliments the story and helps enhance it rather than interrupt it – each character has their own universe and an aesthetic that matches them, one that visually describes the emotional process they go through.
The story begins, for example, in Gwen Stacy's home universe. After being accidentally sucked into the universe in which Miles Morales lived in the previous film, and the two formed a strong personal connection, this time we get to know her inner world more deeply. We discover a very lonely character who mourns for her best friend and pushes away any new friends who try to get closer. All this while she is forced to hide from her father her secret identity as the Spider Woman, an identity she can talk about freely only with the friends she met in the first film, and who are now far away from her.
We learn all this not only through what happens, but also from the way this universe looks - backgrounds that are colorful surfaces in the style of oil paints. The colorfulness and level of detail and abstraction varies according to Gwen's condition itself. All this makes the film great fun for art lovers, even there is a battle scene that brings together sketches of Leonardo da Vinci with the balloon sculptures Jeff Koons.
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More and more surprises. From "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Dimensions" (Photo: official website, Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation, courtesy of A.D. Matalon and Forum Film)
Meanwhile, in Miles Morales' universe, designed in an arty-comic-Roy-Lichtenstein pop style, we discover that the apprentice Spider-Man has pretty much grasped the heroism thing, but not the time division needed for the role. He struggles to balance his school and college commitments with thwarting evil villain plans. His parents suspect something is wrong, but can't get the truth out of him. At the same time, a new villain emerges in his life, "The Stain" (Jason Schwartzman), whose evil plans are closely linked to Miles himself. The stain is a funny and disturbing character at the same time - the stains that cover his body are portals that he can remove from himself and paste wherever he wants, an ability that produces a variety of slapstick scenes in which he kicks himself, but he is also a miserable character who lost everything he had, including her human appearance. Beyond that, the forces of the stain have the potential to be devastating to the future of the entire Multiverse.
And by the way of the Multiverse, this movie is no longer satisfied with an innocent glimpse into several parallel universes in which the story of Spider-Man is told a little differently. After Gwen becomes embroiled in a battle that goes wrong, she joins a group formed by Spider-Man 2099/Miguel O'Hara (Oscar Isaac), who is both a ninja, a vampire and a complex character who handily manages a secret group of Spider-Man from different locations. How many Spider-Mans? Hundreds or thousands of creatures and characters with spider powers - pregnant Spider-Man on a motorcycle (Issa Rae), Spider-Man punk with a British accent (Daniel Kaluuya), Spider-Man on horseback, Spider-Man car, Spider-Man from Lego and so on and so forth. Among them is also the mentor who mentored Miles at the beginning of his career - Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), now a father of babies with spider powers of her own.
Great fun for art lovers. From "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Dimensions" (Photo: official website, Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation, courtesy of A.D. Matalon and Forum Film)
A lot of the fun of the film is the discovery of more and more surprises - different and strange universes, interesting sci-fi technologies and cool visual twists. The plot, accordingly, zigzags quite a bit between Miles' story, Gwen's story and the story of the spider multiverse and the implications of its existence, which are slowly becoming clearer. It's also a darker and sadder film than its predecessor, which may have been a bit melancholic but overall light and cute.
Miles and Gwen, each in their own way, experience here the pain and loss that comes with growing up, with the obvious radicalization that comes with the dangerous way of life of a superhero. The story brings together the personal and the multiverse in a beautiful way - the protagonists are not only afraid of the scary things that might happen to their world, but also of the distance that the role creates between them and their family. An embarrassing lateness to a birthday party feels as fateful here as a huge battle on a falling apart bridge.
Each character has their own universe and corresponding aesthetics. From "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Dimensions" (Photo: official website, Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation, courtesy of A.D. Matalon and Forum Film)
"Across the Spider Dimensions" is an absolutely spectacular ride on a crazy rollercoaster, with a great vocal cast and lots of good jokes. It's a very busy film, completely coherent, but also incomplete in itself. Without spoiling too much, we'll say that some plots are advanced enough that we don't leave the cinema feeling like we didn't do anything here, but others are revealed in preparation for next year's sequel. The problem here isn't even the length – two and twenty hours that pass surprisingly fast – but the fact that after those two hours and twenty there are many things that remain open in the name of the suspenseful cliffhanger.
- Movie Review