The much-anticipated sequel to the winner of 2019’s Best Animated Feature Oscar begins not with a drum roll, but with a drum beat.
“Let’s do things differently this time,” urges the inner voice of drummer Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) as she gets lost in music while rehearsing with her punk band The Mary Janes.
But as Gwen, aka Spider-Woman, hammers out the familiar beats of the spidey saga (boy gets bitten by radioactive spider, boy gets super powers, boy suffers family tragedy) you may notice something very different about the background.
While Gwen is rendered in modern computer animation, her world appears to have been hand painted by a watercolourist whose palette shifts according to Gwen’s ever-changing moods.
This is the style of Earth-65, the alternate dimension where Gwen is the webslinger and Peter Parker died in her arms after transforming into the villainous Lizard.
Over the next two and a quarter hours, the wildly innovative follow-up to Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, employs a dizzying array of animation styles as it introduces us to different versions of the Marvel favourite.
Daniel Kaluuya voices Spider-Punk, a mohawked crime fighter from late-1970s London, who looks like a restless collage.
Then there’s Indian-comic inspired Mumbattan and Nueva York, the futuristic home of the multiverse’s only humourless Spider-Man (Oscar Isaac).
But the most touching scenes play out in New York where 15-year-old Spider-Man Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is fighting an amusingly hapless “villain of the week” called The Spot (Jason Schwartzman).
It’s the cow-coloured baddie’s ability to open portals to other dimensions that causes Miles to get entangled in a web of Spider-People, and reacquainted with his first crush, Gwen.
Writer-producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie) have delivered another subversive superhero classic that’s wickedly funny, beautifully scored and gorgeously animated.
But it’s Miles and Gwen’s love story and their touching family dramas that keep this high-s
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Cert PG, In cinemas now