Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has been discussed plenty of times on this website – including by yours truly, who thinks that it is the best film of the last decade – and it’s easy to see why: no one can deny the impact it left on the industry, influencing other projects using a mixed 2D and CGI animation style, from The Mitchells vs. the Machines to Arcane. While we’re waiting for next year’s sequel, Netflix is not done experimenting with this unique hybrid animation with this week’s release of Entergalactic.
Serving as a visual component to the album of the same name by Kid Cudi, Entergalactic was originally intended as a television series, but is now a feature-length TV special. It might well be one of the best animated films of 2022, but I’m getting ahead of myself here. The story centers on Jabari (Cudi), a streetwear-clad artist on the cusp of real success working for a comic book company. No time for love despite a brief reunion with his ex, Jabari has a chance run-in with his cool new photographer neighbor, Meadow (Jessica Williams), and suddenly love might be injected into his life.
From a narrative standpoint, this is your typical romantic comedy, including most of the conventions you would expect from the genre: the two leads are clearly meant for each other, but circumstances get in the way, and a climactic chase to each other’s arms ensues. So it’s not breaking any new ground in the genre, nor does the film feel driven by plot – most of the film is essentially laid-back conversations between its predominately non-white cast of characters, talking about relationships.
While no one really goes through an arc, you enjoy the company of these people (voiced by an incredible all-star cast that nearly all have some connection to the hip-hop world), who may be partaking in the occasional sex, drugs or booze, which they never seem slowed down by as they pass through life with some ease. While the movie could have been gratuitous with its mature content for the sake of being an adult animation, but the filmmakers nicely restrain themselves to maintain a heartwarming tone.
The influence of the aforementioned Spider-Verse looms large here, in which New York is presented with such color and vibrancy, along with comic book and street art becoming recurring imagery in between needle drops from Kid Cudi’s album. The film showcases the characters’ somewhat mundane lives, but that doesn’t stop the animators from being creative when it comes to scene transitions as well as flights of fancy where Jabari and Meadow float in space (hence the title). Going back to discussions regarding relationships, it is in these sequences where we get different animation styles, including one that is basically full-blown anime.
Despite its conventional trappings, Entergalactic is a heartwarming romcom exploring a particular side of New York, enhanced by its stunning blend of 2D and 3D animation.
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