Friday 2 June 2023

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Movie Review)

Spider-Man swings his way back into cinemas this weekend in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. This is the eagerly-awaited sequel to the Academy Award-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, a movie that not only introduced moviegoers to Miles Morales but showed us that he was just as capable as the various Peter Parkers that came before him. And like any good sequel worth its salt, this one sets out to expand on the titular Spider-Verse while giving fans more of what they really loved about the first film. But does it manage to achieve either of those two goals or has it perhaps grown too big for its own good?

The film is set a year and a half after the events of the previous one with Miles (voiced by Shameik Moore) still struggling to juggle between schoolwork and his duties as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. In that time, he has amassed his very own rogues gallery of villains as well as some notoriety. He is soon sucked into a brand-new multiverse-spanning adventure with a fresh cast of Spider-People along with some returning favorites. And with a new arch nemesis hellbent on revenge to contend with, Miles would quickly find out that he needs all the help that he can get.

My expectations heading into Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse were about as high as you can imagine being the massive Spider-Man fan that I am. The first film had immediately won me over with its uniquely beautiful animation style which sought to replicate the look and feel of a comic book within a three-dimensional space. But it was its heartfelt story and great characterization that ultimately made it one of my favorite films of 2018, long before it went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. And since then, Spider-Man fans have been treated to gem after gem across the various entertainment media with video games like Spider-Man: Miles Morales and live-action movies like the two most recent ones in the MCU.

But just when I thought things had gotten as good as they could get in Spider-Man: No Way Home, the crew at Sony Animation scoffed and asked us to hold their beer. Because you'll have to believe that I am not being hyperbolic when I say that this is now possibly my favorite Spider-Man movie of all time. That's high praise indeed considering that Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2 had held the title of my favorite comic book movie since its release in 2004. And much like that movie had managed to take its predecessor to the next level, this one shoots everything that came before it into the stratosphere.

The animation is just as vibrant as it was in the first film with each variant of Spider-Man given their own unique animation style. This extends to the worlds they inhabit as well, with each one sporting a distinct look and feel. It would appear like we've been inundated by a heavy dose of multiversal adventures lately, between the MCU's recent movies and the impending release of the DCEU's The Flash. But nowhere has the multiverse been as clearly and as fully realized as it is here, not even in the Best Picture-winning Everything, Everywhere, All at Once.

But the real highlight in my opinion is once again the stellar characterization. Miles is as fully formed as he has ever been and we get to watch him grow even further into his Spider-Man-sized shoes. We also gain new insight into Gwen Stacy's backstory with the film spending a significant portion of its runtime fleshing out her character. The same holds true for several new characters like Miguel O'Hara and The Spot, although fans of the first film might wonder what happened to the likes of Peni Parker and Peter Porker, but at least they'll get to instead witness Peter ParkedCar in all its glory. And no, I'm not making that up.

Another highlight worth mentioning is the curated soundtrack by Metro Boomin, several songs from which could be heard playing throughout the film. The one that stuck out to me the most was Mona Lisa by Dominic Fike, with its earworm melodies fitting the joyous thrill of watching both Miles and Gwen swing through New York like a glove.

The only real criticism I can give to Across the Spider-Verse is the fact that it ends on a cliffhanger as it sets the stage for what is sure to be an epic conclusion in Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse next year. Its extended runtime also keeps the movie from feeling as punchy and precise as its predecessor even though it does manage to cram in a lot of characterization and world-building into that runtime, not to mention the countless Easter eggs that are sure to have diehard fans going back to watch the movie over and over again.

It's a great time to be a Spider-Man fan and nowhere is that more evident than in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. The film serves as another celebration of the webslinger's storied history even as it attempts to tie it all together in its very ambitious narrative web. That it largely succeeds while doing so speaks to a deep understanding of the superhero and his various iterations as well as a mastery of the art of storytelling by all those involved in crafting the film. This is the Spider-Man film to rule all Spider-Man films and one can only wonder where they could possibly take things next.


  1. I'm not as big of a Spider-Man fan but I really liked the first one so it's good to hear that it doesn't disappoint. If they work in a Superior Spider-Man reference I'd be really happy.

    1. Let's just say that you're in for a real treat. 😉

  2. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse takes animation to new heights! Picture Miles Morales swinging into action, his style exemplified by the iconic Verse Miles Morales Puffer Jacket—a perfect blend of superhero flair and winter warmth.