Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023)
About as close as you will get (for a while at least) to a living, breathing, animated comic book and we're close enough to almost touch it. My immediate response to this inarguable assault on the senses was how much more remarkable this would have been if the likes of Arcane didn't exist.
Arcane reduces this to great, rather than downright flabbergasting. To those that know it, the influence of French Studio Fortiche is glaringly obvious here.
The first of two sequels following the commercial and critical success (and Oscar, ahem) of the first movie, with the final part mooted for about twelve months away, Miles Morales' universe expands exponentially. Marvel has got the bit between their teeth here and throwing the multiverse into the mix means that the only issues are the imagination required to make the story and the artistic merit to make it sparkle for us.
From the writing team, only Phil Lord manages to migrate across from original to sequel, joined this time by Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie) and Dave Callaham (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings). Never fear, however, as we are still well within James Gunn territory here in terms of originality and style.
Currently sitting very smugly at #15 in IMDb's top #250 movies of all time, you can imagine that it won't stay there for too long, despite the deserved plaudits it has so far received. Many peers have stated that this is superlative to the original, but I would tend to disagree.
Artistically, this is an improvement on the first film and just as stylish by presentation, though since already bettered by others, whilst the script and narrative are less impressive than the first outing and the plot more demanding. Additionally, I was completely lost in the first movie but was checking my watch here at ninety minutes. It does feel laboured in places without the apparent exposition to back it up.
Lest we forget, this had an extremely high bar to reach and expectations were phenomenally high. To get even close is still quite the achievement, however, and I can argue with anyone that this is indeed highly recommended viewing, even if it doesn't personally resonate as well as the recent Guardians 3.