"Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
2018's "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" changed the game of superhero animated film/television. Inspired by the beautiful comic book style of art, the film not only dazzled audiences with the stellar imagery, but captivated them with the wonderfully thought-out story about being the best version of yourself that you can be. Now, almost five years later, Sony has released the sequel to their breakout hit, titled "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse". Not only does it improve on numerous aspects from its predecessor, but it is easily one of the best animated superhero films ever made.
The film picks up a little after the first one ended, with Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) fully coming into his powers as Spider-Man, and defeating the evil Kingpin and his associates, alongside the other Spider-Mans from the Spider-Verse. When everyone returns to their own dimension and lead their own lives, there is a longing between Miles and Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), who is the Spider-Gwen in her universe. They not only long for each other, but for that feeling of fitting in alongside the other superhuman like them. When Gwen joins a band of Spider-humans ran by Miguel O'Hara (Oscar Isaac), they must jump from dimension to dimension to bring down the big baddies.
One of those supervillains is in Miles' dimension. Named The Spot (Jason Schwartzman), he will stop at nothing to make sure Miles pays for what he did to him when the Collider exploded in the first film. However, he knowingly creates havoc in all of the dimensions, forcing Miles to team up with the band of Spider-people, trying to bring down the Spot for good. However, when dark secrets are revealed and foes are created, Miles realizes he may not be safe among those just like him.
I'm going to be honest, when this film started, I wasn't sure where this was headed. From previous screenings, I have heard this is easily one of the best superhero films of all time. But, when watching the opening sequences, I was very skeptical, especially since I don't hold the predecessor as in high of a regard as others. But, when the movie started progressing and we started to really get into the thick of it, it started to pick up a lot more and showed why the slower beginning was necessary. By the time you finish this film, you will appreciate the beginning a lot more if you felt the same way I did when watching it.
Once it got going, I think the story was absolutely incredible. Writers Phil Lord, Chris Miller, and Dave Callaham really take care and time into what they were crafting, and it easily pays off in the end. It's energetic, hilarious, heartfelt, sad at times, and just a fun ride for everyone watching. They were able to inject that charm that is found in numerous Spider-Man films and comics, and I would say even take it up a notch. It is socially-aware, but not so much as it's in your face and suffocates the viewer.
The characters here are probably better than how they were in the first film. Miles is a more confident character, and you can really start to see himself come into his own as the masked vigilante. He shares some great scenes with Gwen and his father (Brian Tyree Henry), and it is hard to imagine anyone else playing Miles besides Moore. He was practically born to play this character, and he does so to perfection. I also think Steinfeld does a fantastic job of bringing Gwen to life and giving her that depth that we have never seen before in a female Spider-Man character.
Of course some of the fan-favorites from the first film return, including Jake Johnson's Spider-Man, and I have to say, he is even more hilarious and lovable in this film than he was before. He now has an infant daughter, and their scenes together are perhaps some of the best and most adorable in the entire movie. We didn't see much of a return from characters like Spider-Noir or Spider-Pig, but we were treated to Pavitr Prabhakar as Spider-Man (Karan Soni) and Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya), who are both fantastic Spider characters in their own ways.
The animation here is absolutely beautiful, which was to be expected for this movie. We are treated to so many different animation styles to fit the different universes, and even go as far as to see a LEGO world for a brief segment. I think the animators outdid themselves with this film, especially if you are looking at any of the fight or chase scenes. Consider the scene where Miles is being chased by a horde towards the beginning of the end of the film. The entire segment is absolutely gorgeous and immerses the viewer into the film.
If the first film was so highly regarded as the best Spider-Man movie, then this installment deserves a place above that. I adore everything this film did and made me feel as a viewer, and it is hard not to dislike anything in this film. The movie leaves off on a cliffhanger, which is a bummer as we now must wait for the resolution. But it's hard to complain when you know you'll be getting another one of these masterpieces in animation.