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Spider-Man brings glorious animation to Showmax

The latest Spider-Man movie pushes the boundaries of animation, blending diverse styles into an emotional saga, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

Followers of both the Spider-Man comics and of comic books in general will revel in the glorious animation of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, as a sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, it maintains the groundbreaking approach that combines choppy and vibrant 2D comic book style with 3D animation. It captures the essence of reading a comic book while being drawn into the immersiveness of augmented reality, minus the VR or AR glasses.

While it is best viewed on the big screen, it can still be appreciated – again and again – on a TV display. From today (20 February 2024), it can be viewed again and again – with all the freeze-frames or slow-mos you want – via streaming on Showmax.

The story again follows teenager Miles Morales (the Spider-Man of Earth-1610), as he joins a team to protect the fabric of the multiverse. Brooklyn’s friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man faces the challenges of school, family, and defeating self-proclaimed nemesis The Spot. This supervillain can open interdimensional portals, and has sworn to defeat Spider-Man.

After reuniting with Gwen Stacy (Spider-Woman), the duo traverse dimensions to join a team of Spider-People tasked with safeguarding the integrity of the multiverse. However, conflict arises as Miles’s perspective on handling a formidable threat differs from that of Miguel O’Hara (Spider-Man 2099), the hostile leader of the Spider-People organisation.

The big question for many will be not what happens to Spider-Man, or -Men, but who pulled off this boundary-breaking animation?

The credits go to Imageworks, an independent vendor contracted by Sony Pictures Animation. Imageworks has also done visual effects for all Sony Pictures’ previous Spider-Man films. For Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the FX team created a reusable library of 2D hand-drawn FX elements. These elements were then combined with traditional 3D simulations to create an illustrative feel for FX elements. 

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse used Autodesk Maya and machine learning tools to create its animations, with the tools integrating hand-drawn graphic elements to remain true to its source material.

The film is directed by Joaquim Dos Santos and Kemp Powers. On its release in 2023, it claimed the sixth spot in the year’s biggest blockbusters, and clinched the title of Best Animated Feature at the 2024 Critics Choice Awards.

The voice cast features Shameik Moore reprising his role as Miles. Hailee Steinfeld, an Oscar nominee for her role in Hawkeye, lends her voice to Gwen Stacy. The cast includes Emmy nominees Issa Rae and Oscar Isaac, Critics Choice nominee Jake Johnson, Oscar nominee Brian Tyree Henry, and Oscar winners Mahershala Ali and Daniel Kaluuya.

If you missed the first two movies in cinema, you could catch up on Showmax – and stand by for the third movie in the series: Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse. It was planned to release in March 2024, but has been indefinitely delayed – for now.

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