Plot: What’s it about?
Back in 2018 we were treated to a Spider-Man movie. That’s not saying a lot as we’ve had several in the past couple of decades, so seeing the web slinger on screen wasn’t that big of a deal. But as we all know, this wasn’t your “traditional” Spider-Man film. I’ll go on the assumption that the first film has been seen. If not, you’ll likely be lost. Into the Spider-Verse set the bar pretty high. It was well-reviewed, won and Academy Award for Best Animated Film and fans have been tapping their fingers for the better part of a half decade waiting for this next installment. At the risk of sounding cliché – the wait is over. Writers of the first, Christopher Lord and Phil Miller had a hand in this one as well. It might be a cumbersome task to come up with a movie that one ups its predecessor, but that’s what Hollywood is all about. Right? If you want your superhero movies surreal and visually stimulating then look no further.
A fifteen minute prologue shows us how Gwen Stacy (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) has left her own dimension and has started moving through the Spider-verse. We then meet a familiar face with Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), who’s still hiding his status as a superhero from his parents. We’re also introduced to a new villain, Hole (voiced by Jason Schwartzman), who has the uncanny ability to make holes open and close, thereby allowing him to “teleport” from one place to another. Originally looking more like comic relief, he becomes more threatening and sinister as the film progresses. With the arrival of Hole, this brings Gwen back to Miles’ dimension. She’s now part of a team of “Spider-Man’s” led by Miguel O’Hara (voiced by Oscar Isaac) who comic lovers will recognize as Spider-Man 2099. Their ultimate goal is to keep order in the Spider-Verse by ensuring that they all stay in their respective dimensions. Miles wants to join the fight – Miguel has some reservations. Suffice it to say we wouldn’t have a film if the characters followed the rules, so at the risk of not spoiling anything we’ll leave the rest of the plot to be discovered.
By and large, this film did everything it was supposed to. The same visual elements that made the first so memorable are more at play here and I found it exhilarating to watch. It’ll most likely require a few viewings to soak everything in. That said, I couldn’t get into this one as much as I’d have liked. It’s almost like there was too much going on. Or maybe it’s that it’s been five years since I saw the first and I could/should have done a little brush up before diving head first into this one. That and, this really isn’t a spoiler, this is only the first of a two part finale. And let’s just say that they aren’t too discreet about how they “end” this one. But the same elements are at play here (yes, I realize I said that in my opening sentence). We get more of Miles and Gwen as well as a new slew of Spider-Man’s that you didn’t even know existed (Lego Spider-Man included). This one delivers on anything and everything it was supposed to, now the wait for “Part II” is upon us.
Video: How’s it look?
The term “visually aggressive” seems like an appropriate way to describe this film and if you’ve seen the first one (and we’ll assume you have), this one takes it up a notch on the visual level. The same overall look and visual style are present, but there seemed to be (at least to me) more layers to this installment. There is always something moving in the background, colors pop (literally), cross hatching is used extensively and the whole movie feels like a painting come to life. Into the Spider-Verse certainly set the precedent, but this one managed to take that and bump it up a notch or two. The 2.39:1 AVC HD transfer makes full use of the screen and fills it with just about anything you can think of. There’s really no other way to describe how this looks other than to say it’s a visual feast for the eyes. You’ll either like it or it’ll give you a headache. I was in the former camp.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Given that this is a pretty high profile release, it’s a bit puzzling why they wouldn’t add a Dolby Atmos mix to the Blu-ray. You’ve got to “upgrade” to the 4K version for that. That said, it’s not like this DTS HD Master Audio mix is holding anything back. The song selection is, once again, top notch with strong, well-centered vocals. There are buzzes, crackles and just about every other sound you can imagine that’ll keep your head spinning for more than a couple hours. Dynamics are strong, copious amounts of surround sound is used (and with great effect) and the obligatory onomatopoeia’s are once again present (words like “Pop” and “Boom” appearing on the screen). I’m sure the Atmos mix is the way to go, but you’d have to really sit down and do an A/B comparison for me to notice the differences. This one rocks.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Obscure Spiders and Easter Eggs – Six minutes probably isn’t enough time for us to get all the references hidden in this film. But it’s a start. Suffice it to say you could watch this movie ten times and still probably miss a few of these cleverly hidden items.
- Deleted Scene – Only one – “Miguel Calling” though given the film’s running time of nearly two and a half hours, this was cut.
- “I’mma Do My Own Thing” Interdimensional Destiny – If you’ve not been introduced to films that have a multiverse, here’s a crash course for you.
- Across the Worlds: Designing New Dimensions – The title essentially says it all – we get the rundown on how the new universe(s) were created.
- Designing Spiders and Spots – There are a lot of characters in this film and we get a look at just a sampling of them all. Can you say “massive undertaking?”
- Scratches, Score and The Music of the Multiverse – At only five minutes, we get a peek at what it took to score the film along with some of the musical choices in this one.
- Escape from Spider Society – A more in-depth look at the chase scene from the film.
- Across the Comics-Verse – Essentially a look at how the comics were used as inspiration for this film and how they managed to cram everything into this movie.
- Lyric Videos – Three total: “Annihilate” by Metro Boomin, Swae Lee, Lil Wayne and Offset, and “Calling” by Metro Boomin, Nav, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and Swae Lee.
- Audio Commentary – This is a rather “crowded” commentary track with Co-directors Justin K. Thompson, Joaquim Dos Santos and Kemp Powers who are joined by co- writers/producers Christopher Miller and Phil Lord. Miller and Lord also helped write the first film, but that’s not to say that their influence was totally missed here. It’s quite a commitment to listen to this one for the duration, but obviously worth it.
- Creating the Ultimate Spider-Man Movie – The obligatory “making of…” feature that tells of the trials and tribulations of how this movie was made, to make it bigger, better, etc. but still retain the magic that the first one had.
- Raising a Hero – I personally felt that a little too much time was paid to the families in this installment, but this feature at least explains why.
- Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Cast – Essentially just that – we get a look at the actors voicing their roles, their “interactions” and so forth.
The Bottom Line
It was a long nearly five year wait for this one to come out. After delays, we finally got what the fans were waiting for. And, bear in mind, this is only the first part. I personally enjoyed the Into the Spider-Verse more, but there’s a lot to like to be found here. The same reference-quality audio and video are present as in the predecessor and the disc has enough extras to easily warrant a purchase. If you absolutely need the 4K version, you’ll get an uptick in picture and image quality. Personally, I feel this Blu-ray should more than suffice.