Review of 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse'

spider_man_across_the_spider_verse.jpg I very much enjoyed the energy and vibrancy of the first “Spider-Verse” film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse so was excited to hear about this new film, “Across the Spider-Verse”. In two words: Full on.

On Earth-65 Gwen Stacey (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) is struggling with missing her friend Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) and living up to the expectations of her police captain father who continues to hunt for the killer of her friend “Peter Parker” who she was unable to save as her alter-ego “Spider-Woman”. While subduing a being from an alternative universe she is aided by Spider-People Miguel O'Hara (voiced by Oscar Isaac) and Jess Drew (voiced by Issa Rae), eventually given membership in the Spider-Society and, more importantly, a watch that allows her to travel between universes. On Earth-1610 Miles is also struggling with the expectations of his family. While protecting Manhattan Miles encounters “The Spot”, a being able to create spots that connect two points in space, while he attempts to rob an ATM. Gwen returns to earth-1610 tracking “The Spot” charged with protecting the multi-verse as part of the Spider-Society. “The Spot” is gathering power and proves to be too much for Gwen, Miles and fellow Spider-Society members Pavitr Prabhakar (voiced by Karan Soni) and Hobie Brown (voicdd by Daniel Kaluuya ). Miles soon learns that his personal battles may result in the destruction of everything…

This film simply looks absolutely stunning with eye watering visuals in every frame with incredible artistic flair. This coupled with the non-stop action sequences and camera movements are almost too much and ended up leaving me overwhelmed and exhausted by the end. The fight sequences with “The Spot” are particularly tricky to follow but incredibly choreographed. Even in quiet sequences the artistic background refuses to sit still, such as a talk with Gwen where the background literally bleeds behind her. The colours are vivid and the drawing highly dynamic - Simply amazing.

The story is fairly basic, if a bit multi-verse-y, and it is good to see the familiar characters return (though Spider-Pig does not make a return) and some new quirky characters including a Spider-Man that rides a masked horse and another “Spider-Punk” that channels English Punk stereotypes.

While the first film was very much a fun-fest “Across” is far more serious with only the occasional out of place attempts at humour notably early in the film and the later visit to the “Spider-Verse” itself (most of the good gags are in the trailer). Here we have much more drama and the stakes have significantly raised with important decisions to be made by Miles and Gwen. Without giving too much away, be aware that there is too much to be wrapped up in a single film…yes, this is only part 1, we will have to wait for part 2 to find out how it all turns out.

Amazing to look at and still a lot of fun despite being more serious than the first.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2023-06-10

Directed by: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson

Studio: Sony Pictures Animation

Year: 2023

Length: 140 minutes

Genre: Animation

Other reviewed films by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers: