If you consider yourself a devoted Spider-Man enthusiast, you’ve undoubtedly been fortunate to witness numerous captivating adventures on the silver screen. Not only have multiple Spider-Man movies been produced, each showcasing distinct interpretations of the beloved Marvel hero, but almost all of these films have been commendable.
Ever since Tobey Maguire graced the screen in the iconic red and blue Spandex back in 2002, Spider-Man movies have consistently delivered captivating stories and impressive quality. Admittedly, not every installment has hit the mark perfectly (looking at you, Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2), but even the weaker entries possess redeeming qualities, and countless fans will eagerly share their opinions on the best film in the series.
The Return of Miles Morales
For me, the pinnacle of Spider-Man films (though you didn’t ask) is the animated gem from 2018, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This film introduces a fresh Spider-Man in the form of teenager Miles Morales, who joins forces with various Spider-people from alternate dimensions.
Thanks to the critical and commercial acclaim received by Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, a sequel has now swung into the picture: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Currently playing in cinemas across the UK and US, this new film continues Miles’ story and has the potential to surpass its predecessors, vying for the title of the greatest Spider-Man movie yet.
Helmed by directors Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse features the voice talents of Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Jake Johnson, Jason Schwartzman, and Oscar Isaac. Picking up over a year after the events of the first film, Miles is now fully embracing his role as Brooklyn’s friendly neighborhood wall-crawler.
In this installment, Miles faces the challenge of balancing his personal life with his superhero responsibilities, but he’s struggling to find the right equilibrium. While he excels as Spidey, he’s faltering in his personal life, creating a significant problem.
Due to his newfound duties as Spider-Man, Miles is neglecting school, his grades are slipping, and he’s growing distant from his parents. Moreover, Miles stands at a crossroads in his life, yearning to venture beyond Brooklyn and explore the wider world.
However, amidst the chaos, Miles’s greatest concern is reuniting with Gwen Stacy. It has been a long 16 months since their last encounter when they collaborated to save the multiverse, and Miles can’t shake thoughts of her from his mind.
Thus, when Gwen unexpectedly appears in Miles’s world, he is overwhelmed with joy. Gwen informs him that she is part of the ‘Spider Society,’ an alliance consisting of various Spider-people from alternate dimensions.
Unbeknownst to Miles, Gwen has arrived on his Earth with a specific purpose. A new supervillain named The Spot poses a threat to the very fabric of existence, and Gwen’s presence in Brooklyn is to keep tabs on him.
When Gwen is compelled to abruptly leave Miles and return to the multiverse in pursuit of The Spot, Miles decides to accompany her. Little does he know that he is about to face new perils and uncover a revelation that could forever change his life.
Critical Reception and Reviews
I must confess, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has left an indelible impression on me. This remarkable film undeniably warrants the five-star rating I’ll be attributing at the end of this review.
Not only did it thoroughly captivate me with its visually stunning aesthetics, razor-sharp humor, and exceptional characters, but the story itself held me enthralled from beginning to end. It pulsates with depth and drama, never relenting until the final moments.
The Multiverse Expands
To offer a point of comparison with recent movies, Across the Spider-Verse can be likened to the Avengers: Infinity War of the Spider-Man film series. It brims with enthralling visuals, high stakes, unexpected surprises, and it leaves viewers eagerly anticipating what lies ahead, simultaneously filled with excitement and trepidation.
Moreover, akin to its predecessor, Across the Spider-Verse serves as a heartfelt homage to Spider-Man. It amalgamates ideas, characters, and references from various corners of Spidey’s rich mythology, crafting a genuinely gratifying experience.
Speaking of the mythology, Across the Spider-Verse does something I never anticipated. It incorporates a comic book element as a vital component of its narrative, thus expanding the Spider-Man universe in an entirely new manner.
Rest assured, no spoilers will be divulged here, but I can assure you that the film introduces a fresh twist to the existing framework we are all familiar with. Certain aspects of Spider-Man lore, such as the radioactive spider bite or the demise of Uncle Ben, are ingrained in our collective knowledge. However, the movie creatively repurposes a plot point from the comics and a previous film, propelling the story forward.
Praise for Storytelling and Characters
This innovative approach not only injects a renewed sense of peril into this film and potentially future Spidey installments, but it also enhances the interconnectedness of the previous Spider-Man movies. Across the Spider-Verse represents a crucial piece of a much larger puzzle, continually revitalizing this two-decade-old film franchise.
While the film undeniably delves into the Spidey mythology, it also provides ample exploration of Miles Morales’ personal growth. Since his last appearance on-screen, Miles has matured both physically and emotionally, an aspect the film thoroughly explores.
It is uncommon for an animated film to showcase the lead character’s progression over time, but Across the Spider-Verse takes this unconventional approach to convey the passage of time. This film firmly establishes an older, slightly more experienced Miles, allowing the story to delve into this aspect at various junctures, demonstrating how far he has come since Into the Spider-Verse.
Although Miles has accepted his role as Spider-Man, he has yet to fully come to terms with leading a double life. The film explores this notion, delving into Miles’ emotions regarding this facet of his existence, making it an integral part of the narrative.
Additionally, the movie delves into Miles’ evolving perspectives on his parents, responsibilities, and his affection for Gwen. It boasts scenes that beautifully capture the essence of teenage love, making them some of the most authentic and believable romance sequences in any Spidey film.
Regarding the characters within the film, similar to Into the Spider-Verse, Across the Spider-Verse introduces an array of new Spider-folk. Some receive brief cameos, while others enjoy more substantial screen time.
Among the new additions, Pavitr Prabhaker (aka Spider-Man India) and Hobie Brown (aka Spider-Punk) shine brightest. These characters prove to be fantastic new assets to the Spider-Man movies, delivering memorable lines and enriching the overall experience.
New Villains and Challenges
The film’s villain, The Spot, is equally impressive. Though a relatively lesser-known antagonist from the comics, his whimsical abilities seamlessly integrate into the movie’s atmosphere, making him an absolute delight to watch.
Nevertheless, the true gem of this film, aside from Miles Morales, is Gwen Stacy, who effortlessly steals every scene she graces. While Miles remains the focal point, Gwen shares the spotlight in the opening prologue, effectively establishing her significance.
In addition to the aforementioned aspects, Across the Spider-Verse boasts some of the most visually striking animation ever witnessed on screen. Numerous viewers have rightfully hailed it as a true work of art. In reality, I believe it encompasses not just one, but several masterpieces. Each world and character possesses a distinct aesthetic and color palette, ensuring that every frame is a visual marvel.
This film inundates the senses, providing a captivating visual feast. It is a sheer delight, and if it does not receive an Academy Award nomination for its animation next year, it would be an injustice to the entire awards ceremony.
Soundtrack and Music
The sound design of Across the Spider-Verse is equally deserving of recognition, as the soundtrack is superb. The music seamlessly blends with the visuals, exuding an effortlessly cool vibe that enhances the overall experience.
I could spend hours extolling the virtues of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, but I’d much rather implore you to secure your tickets and bring your loved ones to your nearest cinema. This film is an event for the entire family, and one of the standout entries in Spider-Man’s illustrious filmography. Please don’t miss out.
While this universe holds more stories in its future, it is crucial to witness the events of this film first. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a truly epic Spider-Man adventure that offers an immense amount of enjoyment.
And now, as promised, here are those five stars I mentioned…