Review: ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ a Master Class of Story and Animation

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Swinging into theaters on June 2, “Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse” is the hotly anticipated sequel to the 2018 smash hit film “Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse.” This film stands as part one of the finale of the “Spider-verse” series.

Many laud “Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse” as one of, if not, the best animated movies ever created for its animation, themes, and story and how do you beat that — by being its sequel.

The story picks up about a year after the events of “Into the Spider-verse” with Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) and Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) separated into their own spider-verses. The movie opens with Gwen fighting the classic Spider-Man villain The Vulture and meeting Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac) and Jessica Drew (Issa Rae). 

It then jumps forward four months and into a new universe, now following Miles trying to defeat a new villain, The Spot (Jason Schwartzman). The battle is filled with jokes and banter, but ends with The Spot declaring himself as Miles’s archnemesis. Soon after Miles jumps headlong into the spider-verse after a mysterious visit from Gwen.

The movie is the first real introduction to the wider spider-verse with hundreds of cameos from the different spider-men and women that inhabit the thousands of different universes. It is also incredibly long for an animated movie, sitting at 140 minutes, making it the longest American animated film in history. Even with the length it never drags because of the pacing and amazingly choreographed action sequences.

Among the returning characters, like Miles, Gwen, and Spider-Man (Jake Johnson), plenty of new ones are introduced as well such as Miguel O’Hara, Jessica Drew, and Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya). All of the spider-people run an organization to keep the multiverse in check so that it doesn’t collapse. This organization is what creates the main conflict surrounding Miles.

Every actor and actress gives an outstanding emotional performance with Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, and Oscar Isaac being standouts as the main leads. In addition, Jason Schwartzman plays The Spot in such a way that he smoothly transitions from haphazard villain of the week to a terrifying force of nature by the end of the movie.

The music once again creates a standout soundtrack just like its predecessor from 2018, with a soundtrack entirely composed by Metro Boomin with many artists collaborating on it, including A$AP Rocky, Lil Wayne, Lil Uzi Vert, Nas, and Swae Lee.

The animation is some of the best in class, seething with glorious mixed media, almost every character is animated in their own unique way to represent the comic, show, or movie they originally came from. Like Spider-Punk who is animated in a punk art style that is reminiscent of punk rock album covers and Gwen who’s universe is drawn and shaded in a way that is very similar to her original comic run. The fight scenes are unbelievably fluid and choreographed so beautifully that you just can’t take your eyes off of them. The entire movie is imbued with a creative style, from its animation to its choreography, that many larger studios seem too afraid to use.

In a review written by Maya Phillips in The New York Times, she writes, “This isn’t just another multiverse slogfest but a bildungsroman. Because what else is adolescence but a confrontation with the various possibilities in life, the infinite selves you can be? It’s about figuring out one’s identity — superhero or otherwise — and finding a place to belong.”

The film is currently holding a critics score of 95% and an audience score of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, along with a 9.1 out of 10 on IMDb. With an incredible opening weekend of $120.1 million domestically and $88.5 million overseas, it is clearly a massive hit and doesn’t show any sign of stopping.

A beautiful and poignant continuation of Miles Morales’s story, it intertwines an emotional narrative of family and finding who you are with an exciting superhero adventure. Outclassing the first movie in nearly every way, it is definitely one for the history books. This film will create a lasting impression on the world of animation for years to come in both its creativity and storytelling, especially when part two, “Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-verse,” releases next year.

At a Glance:

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse

Starring: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Isaac, Daniel Kaluuya, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, Jason Schwartzman, Issa Rae, Brian Tyree Henry, and Andy Samberg

Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin K. Thompson, Kemp Powers

Writers: Chris Miller, David Callaham, Phil Lord

Duration: 140 minutes

Age Rating: PG

Rating: ★★★★★

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