Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ★★★★

Well, this is probably the only movie I've seen twice that in neither instance can I claim to have seen entirely without interruption. Last time, skepticism about projection. This time, the studio started the fucking movie a full half-hour early without any notice.

Upside: I knew immediately (at this different theater) that what I saw last time was all on purpose. It makes a vast difference to know that going in, so let me shout it once more: STUFF IS BLURRY ON PURPOSE, EVEN IF IT SEEMS TOO BLURRY.

This time through, it's clear that however distracting it can still sometimes be, it's a tactic to fixate your focus on certain portions of the screen. It felt amateurish to me at first glance and more purposeful this time: Here's a film that sends us to dual nexuses of this oft-told tale, its mythology and its molecules.

The surfeit of Spider-people plays into the film's notion of heroism not as a badge bestowed after one success but a series of continual choices — the right ones sometimes flying in the face of what's most convenient. Miles Morales finds a community of misfits and malcontents here rather than just ancillary marketing opportunities.

Plus, the final battle feels like it's taking place in the very DNA of Spider-Man's pop-cultural profile, subway cars intertwined into double-helixes and the most violent bits accompanied by burbling cells that seem like they're ready to explode. Again: This is hellzapoppin stuff, a nigh-synesthetic swirl of stylistic delights. Its colorful, kaleidoscopic, plane-breaking approach is bold and befuddling, which plays a lot better the second time through. One of these days, I'll get to see the whole thing start-to-finish.