One year after defeating Kingpin alongside Spider-Men from other universes, Miles Morales is visited once again by Gwen Stacy and finds himself at odds with the Spider-Society, a multiverse-protecting organization of Spider-People led by Miguel O’Hara.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was a film that left an impression not only an audiences but on the animation industry with its combination of 2D and 3D style. This sequel aspires to transcend the original not just through how many animation styles it blends, but through the story, tone, atmosphere and structure it builds that may just humiliate everything from that beloved first film based on ambition alone. Though the movie tries to emulate that same comic-like spirit from the first film, there’s a deeper energy and culture to the film’s feel, including the music and mood, from the first scene, which feels like a masterful piece of storytelling even on its own. Hailee Steinfeld this time is just as much the emotional core as is Miles Morales, and she delivers a great performance as the painful choices Gwen’s had to make are revealed to the audience — the entire movie is probably one of the most mature animated films thematically and tonally I’ve ever seen. It’s still “family friendly”, but the audience is treated as much more mature and patient than most animated films would. Also a standout is Daniel Kaluuya as the rebellious, anti-authority Spider-Punk whose voice performance sticks out as much as some of the animation, not to mention Karan Soni, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Velez and Oscar Isaac. The villain of the Spot, voiced by Jason Schwarzman, is as silly as they get, but his nerdy voice and chaotic appearance make his sudden rise to being Miles’ greatest threat work due to that irony.
The movie’s experimentations with different animation styles throughout the multiverse can feel overwhelming at the speed the visuals are thrown at you, but it’s also wondrously imaginative to see this creation of what feels like a tribute to the audiences and the medium of animation. However, though the pacing does let the environment of the film breathe, it feels significantly slower than the first and takes a bit too long to the get to the multiverse-traveling action. That pacing also doesn’t feel like it pays off any more due to the cliffhanger ending, to tease the end of the trilogy coming out next year. It felt like they could’ve easily added a climax to make the movie feel more whole than the way it ended, even by shortening some of what had come before. That’s not to say that the movie ever has filler, but the pacing and structure feel like a jarring change from the first film. That said, it’s more than made up for by an unforgettable, stunning action scene involving a futuristic universe and a train, with the emotional stakes up to a high. The humor also goes really well with the film, often thrown at you with lightning speed but never failing to amuse with that same charm the first one had. Though structurally and story-wise, it’s not as good as the first, it definitely does top the first based on visuals, scale, creativity and ambition, and is worth a watch for fans of the characters as well as audiences of all ages looking for a relatable hero like Miles Morales.