NEW YORK (OSV News) – Can there ever be too many iterations of everybody’s favorite amalgam of arachnid and human? Not according to the sequel “Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse” (Sony) which eventually boasts a superabundance of variations on the character.
The parade of Spideys is something of an inside joke and may prove confusing to the uninitiated. But the film overall – which is safest for grown-ups but also possibly acceptable for mature adolescents – is a lively crowd pleaser and will likely be catnip for hardcore fans.
Surprisingly, the Marvel Comics-derived proceedings get off to a downbeat start as we’re reintroduced to Gwen Stacey aka Spider-Woman (voice of Hailee Steinfeld). Full of teen angst, Gwen is at odds with her police officer dad George (voice of Shea Whigham) who considers her alter ego a criminal.
The mood brightens once the focus shifts to the Brooklyn-based titular hero (voice of Shameik Moore) whose continuing adventures are enlivened by witty dialogue. This time out, Miles Morales – as he’s called when not web slinging – tangles with mutant mad scientist Dr. Jonathan Ohnn, alias the Spot (voice of Jason Schwartzman).
Spotty blames Spidey for the unfortunate transformation that riddled his body with interdimensional portals, and he’s out for revenge. Since the Spot’s increasing powers threaten cosmic destruction, however, he also becomes a target for the Spider Society, an elite and colorful crew of crime fighters Gwen is asked to join but Miles, initially at least, is not.
Co-directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson, this follow-up to 2018’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” features artistic visuals and rapid-fire action.
Thematically, plot developments eventually create a dilemma for Miles by pitting his personal happiness against the greater good. A dichotomy is also established between destiny and individual freedom.
But don’t expect all this to be resolved in a neat wrap-up. Instead, the conclusion leaves viewers hanging by a silken thread.
The film contains much stylized violence, a few mild oaths and about a half-dozen crass terms. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
John Mulderig is media reviewer for OSV News. Follow him on Twitter @JohnMulderig1.