​New 'Spider-Man' animation: A wild spectacle beyond imagination

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, June 2, 2023
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The Chinese premiere of "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse," the highly anticipated sequel to the Academy Award-winning "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," was met with cheers, laughter and applause in a theater in Beijing on Wednesday.

A still image from "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse." [Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment]

"I'm dumbfounded by it. The film is crazy. It's so good that I can't comprehend what I just saw. I can't find the right words to express how excited and stunned I am," an audience member told China.org.cn while leaving the theater.

The first film, "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," released in 2018, emerged as a groundbreaking triumph in animated cinema. It won Best Animated Feature Film at the 91st Academy Awards and grossed $384.3 million worldwide, including $62.89 million from China.

"Across the Spider-Verse," directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson, is the second film in the "Spider-Verse" trilogy. The story, written by Phil Lord, Chris Miller, and David Callaham, follows Miles Morales as he reunites with his love interest Gwen Stacy and is transported across the Multiverse. There, he encounters the Spider Society led by Miguel O'Hara, a team tasked with protecting the very existence of the Multiverse. Amid the unfolding chaos, Miles grapples with what it means to be a hero as he attempts to save the people he loves most.

Audiences and critics alike are lauding "Across the Spider-Verse" as a masterpiece and a strong contender for next year's Oscars. The film showcases an intoxicating and striking visual style in each universe, bringing together hundreds, if not thousands, of iconic and beloved Spider-People while weaving a compelling narrative. This spectacular extravaganza not only enhances the distinct aesthetic approach developed in its predecessor but also expands the boundaries of animated storytelling, resulting in a marvelous, breathtaking, and emotionally powerful movie.

"What's really inspiring is that each one of our new directors was able to bring something unique to the experience, a personal strength or viewpoint that was completely different from ours," said Phil Lord, the producer and screenplay writer of the film. "We definitely wanted to double down on what made the first movie special and not pull any punches. The goal was to make it super fun but also be able to go deeper into what makes Miles tick, what is challenging about growing up in his family and learning to become his full self, and somehow resolve the closeness that he wants to have with his family and the independence he wants to have as a young person."

Kristine Belson, president of Sony Pictures Animation, stated that the talented group of artists and technicians, both at Sony Pictures Animation and at Sony Pictures Imageworks, challenged themselves every minute of the day to take the sequel to new visual heights.

"With this movie, we're visiting different universes, and each universe has its own aesthetic and own artistic style. Each world is so different visually from the others, and the things that the people at Sony Pictures Animation and Imageworks have designed are limited by absolutely nothing. Anything you can imagine, paint and conceive, they can make an immersive 3D spectacle - and that's often absolutely jaw-dropping," added Chris Miller.

The trio of directors leading the sequel quickly recognized that the project would be their most challenging endeavor yet. Justin K. Thompson, a long-time collaborator with Lord and Miller, having worked together in various capacities over the past 15 years and served as the production designer on the first movie, eagerly seized the opportunity to lead the sequel. Joining forces with Kemp Powers and Joaquim Dos Santos, they formed a powerhouse team of visionaries ready to bring this new chapter to life.

Cosplayers of Spider-Man and Spider-People pose for a photo outside the premiere theater for "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" in Beijing, May 31, 2023. [Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment]

"There were so many things that we wanted to do in the first film that we just didn't know how to do yet or didn't think of until we were done watching the movie," Thompson recalled, adding that the sequel allowed the directors to pay homage to some of the brilliant comic book artists they had admired all their lives. "We said, 'Wait a minute, there's this other idea we could have done!' We had the chance to take everything we learned and go even further and break even more boundaries both in terms of visuals and the storyline."

The film's producer, Amy Pascal, pointed out, "This movie is a lot bigger and will have all the action that everyone's looking for. But what I hope we'll achieve is that the action sequences come out of character development and that we're always telling a good story - we've been quite rigorous about that."

Upon the film's conclusion at the premiere, the audience reacted with exasperated gasps to the abrupt cliffhanger, eager for the rest of the story. "Across the Spider-Verse" is the first part of a two-part installment, with the next chapter scheduled for release on March 29, 2024.

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