Dag nab it, not everything has to be Dune, blithely cutting off mid-story because well, it's just that big a tale. It's arguable — more than arguable, it's sort of obvious that you're better off ending your movie with the end of a story — even if it clearly sets up a sequel. Do we really have to hold up James "Avatar Forever" Cameron as an exemplar here? But this "to be continued" stuff that we saw in Fast X and now here — and mind you, it's "to be continued" after two hours and twenty minutes — it makes your movie feel less like a movie and more like a...a...oh, that's right, a comic book. Well, here's to tipping the hat to the source material, I guess. The thing is, it might not be a problem if your story really is that big: look what happened to poor David Lynch when he tried to pack Dune into one movie. But while this gorgeous, kinetic, engrossing, humane story of Miles Morales' discovery that there are unpleasant and cosmic ramifications to being one Spider-Man in one universe among many does involve big things like universes, it doesn't quite earn the two-part treatment. It's a darned shame when, over and over, the thrill of a chase starts to wear thin — this was so much fun, why didn't they quit while they were ahead? — because runtime just isn't an issue. It's even more of a shame when that's the chief trouble with an otherwise beautifully made movie, one that tempts you to think Spider-Man was always meant to be animated. Well, almost the chief trouble. The other contender is that there's a certain deflation that occurs when you introduce your villain — a bitter casualty of science known as The Spot — and then send him offscreen for most of the movie. But other than that? Satisfying superhero stuff, full of recognizable people and even recognizable families. We'll just have to wait and see if the next installment explains the decision to go long in cinematic, as opposed to economic, terms. (2023) — Matthew Lickona
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