Brian Formo’s review published on Letterboxd:
There's something about the second Spider-Man film because Across the Spider-Verse is the best superhero movie since Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2. For me, it might be the best superhero movie of all time.
The animation is as mesmerizing, inventive and shape-shifting as the first; it's hilarious and witty, and most importantly it sets up a blueprint for how Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy's story will become separate from the Spider-Man canon. It's a middle film but with the multiverse established it most allows for the relationships between Miles and his parents, and most importantly, Gwen Stacy, set the stakes.
The Spider-Verse films have changed animation styles but even though this has bizarre asides, is crammed full of exciting cameos and winks, it remains the most human of the Spider-Man movies. It's not just with great power comes great responsibility but Miles' interest in science and Gwen's attachment to punk rock for teen angst help keep the story youthful and full of hope and give them specific aesthetics outside of heroism. Ultimately the story operates as a circular portal but the compass of the entire script is to bring us closer to our central duo with exciting set pieces surrounding it. It's promising quite an emotional payoff by the end of this trilogy. And it removes the exhaustive third act of everything colliding at once. Some might complain that the whole enterprise is like an episode of television for where it ends — but this allows for the personal aspects to shine through and we still get tons of visual and verbal jokes and action scenes. I appreciate the approach because it circumvents the thing that always drags me out of comic book movies — the never-ending battle at the end. This takes us to a personal battle.
After so many superhero movies hitting the pipeline to theaters and streaming it's refreshing to feel the awareness of a confined structure and investment in the human side of their stories. I had a blast. I was transported. And I was stirred. It's been five years between but those years were spent with care and we should be grateful that nothing was rushed. Because the movie itself is a rush. Like every impeccable frame of animation, there's so much heart placed into the story, the animation, and into Shameik Moore and Hailee Steinfeld's voice performances. This Spider-Man universe is forming up to be a nice hug. A warm chai.
The Jeff Koons dissing while making better art in an animated Spider-Man movie.... should this be a 5?