Film Review: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
Arad Productions and Lord Miller Productions
In Theaters: 06.02
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swung in out of nowhere in 2018 with a mind-bending storyline, humor, psychedelic and artful visuals and deep, well-developed characters that raised the bar for animation and comic book films. When you defy the odds that spectacularly, the only thing that can possibly take away from it is an inferior sequel: I went into Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse prepared for the possibility of seeing it all come crumbling down.
The story picks up a little over a year after the first film, and Miles Morales (Shamiek Moore) is working hard to be the best version of Spider-Man he can be, which often means letting being the best Miles he can be take a back seat. The secret of his double life, his constant disappearing act and his lack of answers regarding it strains his relationship with his parents, and Miles once again feels alone in his universe.
When Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld) pops in from her corner of the multiverse to visit Miles, he couldn’t be happier. Gwen is working with the Spider-Society, an alliance of various incarnations of Spider-Men throughout the multiverse who protect and serve, led by the cool-as-ice Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac). Miles joins her on a mission to save every universe from a new villain known as the Spot (Jason Schwartzman), who is poised to cause a catastrophic disaster unlike this universe (or any other) has ever seen.
If your Spidey sense is tingling with excitement, it should be. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is an epic continuation of the first film’s storyline that is so smart and entertaining that it risks actually giving sequels a good name. The humor and heart of the first movie are just as present, and the stakes and tension are considerably higher. Across the Spider-Verse gets surprisingly dark and intense, especially in the third act. and while the balance between light and dark is handled well , it does make for an animated superhero film that may simply be too scary for younger audiences, especially combined with a 140-minute run time. This is definitely a movie for older animation fans, and the majority are unlikely to have many complaints.
Moore is terrific, relishing digging deeper into the character of Miles, easily the most complex and human Spider-Man we’ve had … or, perhaps, the second. In many ways, this is actually Gwen’s movie, putting her at the center of the action and giving a superb character arc, and Steinfeld sells every moment. As with the first film, the voice acting ensemble is unforgettable, with Isaac and Schwartzman both adding a lot. Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Judas and the Black Messiah) gets the biggest laughs as Spider-Punk, this film’s most amusing variation on the character.
While we are definitely reaching a point where interdimensional multiverse movies are becoming too common, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is easily among the best of them. It‘s a creative marvel, no pun intended, and one of the most entertaining films we’re likely to get all year. –Patrick Gibbs