SpiderMan: Across The Spider-Verse (REVIEW)

SpiderMan: Across The Spider-Verse (REVIEW)

Jadyn Hardy, Staff Writer

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

SpiderMan: Across The Spider-Verse is the animated sequel to the 2018 film SpiderMan: Into the Spider-Verse.

The film picks up 1 year & 4 months following the events of Into the Spider-Verse, opening with a heartfelt 3rd person retelling of Miles Morales’ story, accompanied with a compelling drum solo, delivered by Gwen Stacy (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld).

From the start, the animation is just stellar. The film utilizes a watercolor paint-esque animation style while giving profound depth to Gwen Stacy’s character. We see her mourning her Peter Parker, conflicts with her father, as well as the loneliness she feels for Miles.

This introduction is so brilliant. The animation works so well with the stories they tell. It blends emotion with visuals in a way truly unmatched in our current day of animation in cinema.

Though Gwen Stacy gets lots of story and character development, this story never shies away from centering on Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) and his family. In this movie, we see an older Miles who is struggling with his Spanish and managing his personal life with SpiderMan.

Something I love about this movie is that it doesn’t make a single attempt at trying to replicate the magic of the first film. I think that where a lot of franchises go wrong is trying to imitate success for the simple purpose of revenue. However, Across the Spider-Verse doesn’t try to – and it works in its favor.

As stated before, the animation is top tier. They elevate it so gracefully and use the different techniques to amplify the messages and emotion in this film is impeccable. The effort put into this movie, the quality of this movie is just … wow.

Another great thing that the Spider-Verse trilogy does is it pays incredible attention to detail. After watching ATSV, rewatching ITSV is such a surreal experience because there are so many parallels that give Miles’ current situation all the more weight. In ATSV, it is revealed that the worker that Miles threw a bagel at created The Spot. This is just one example of the laughable and impressive details from the previous movie that ATSV expands on. It does so in such a meticulous way, at times giving off a psychological thriller vibe. It unravels everything we know about Miles Morales’ SpiderMan, yet at the same time leaves so much to be theorized about until the release of SpiderMan: Beyond The SpiderVerse, which releases on March 29th, 2024; serving as a part Two to ATSV.

Music is essential to any film, as it is pretty much the make or break factor, and the Spider-Verse films have a knack for affirming this fact about film. With the legendary soundtrack from the first film, which includes the iconic Sunflower (performed by Post Malone and Swae Lee), the Spider-Verse producers bring American record producer Metro Boomin on to deliver yet another seminal soundtrack. And he does not disappoint.

My personal favorites are Self Love (performed by Coi Leray), Hummingbird (performed by James Blake), and Nas Morales (performed by Nas). Self Love is such a warm track, and Hummingbird serves as a graceful ‘ode’ to ITSV’s Sunflower. The way that the soundtrack includes different quotes from different parts of the film is such a great touch to such a phenomenally produced soundtrack.

Score is another one of the many categories in which the Spider-Verse films thrive. English composer Daniel Pemberton returns to create the score for this film and he does an excellent job. He creates these innovative, yet eerie theme songs for the main characters that thrills you, yet still acknowledges the uncanny undertones that lie throughout this film.

There is this unprecedented anticipation for the danger that lies ahead, and the score is something that really drives it home. A highlight of the previous film that many revered was The Prowler’s theme. Scratchy and exciting, his theme was something that stuck with many. In this film, the main villain, The Spot (voiced by Jason Schwartzman), has the creepiest theme that I have ever heard. Listening to this theme for the first time as his character develops into one of the most threatening multiverse threats we have seen, you can’t help but just feel … horrified. Especially in this scene, because it is almost a ‘Gotcha!’ moment for The Spot. Over the course of the film he grew tired of being referred to as “a villain of the weak’, and in that scene when he is no longer anything close to that – there is a certain near-suffocating tension that reaches out and grabs you. The theme really makes you feel how I can hardly imagine Miles feels in that moment.

Never, in any film I’ve ever watched, has the sound design truly immersed me as Across The Spider-Verse does. It pulls you in and straps you into the joyride this film is.

There were so many Easter eggs in this movie for SpiderMan fans. From Donald Glover’s live-action cameo as The Prowler, in which can only be assumed as Tom Holland’s (the MCU) Prowler, to the SpiderMan from the Insomniac PlayStation games, to the Spider Truck, to SpiderPunk’s, aka Hobie Brown, animation and character design, to Jessica Drew/SpiderWoman (voiced by Issa Rae), to the side antagonist Miguel O’Hara/SpiderMan 2099 (voiced by Oscar Issac), to the Lego SpiderMan Universe, to the Spectacular SpiderMan, to so many more.

SpiderPunk is genuinely my favorite character in this movie. He was a real one from the jump, never trying to turn on Miles or trying to tell him how his story is supposed to go. Not only did SpiderPunk craft the multiverse jumper-watches that Gwen uses to assemble the team, but he helps Miles develop his electric powers throughout the movie.

Daniel Kaluuya, Oscar Issac, Shameik Moore, Haille Stanfield, and Lauren Velez (voices Rio Morales) gave such standout and emotional performances.

Though many are talking about how much they hate the “cliffhanger”, I was quite content with where the movie ended. Sure, there wasn’t a classic, grand resolution that most SpiderMan films have – I feel that there is. In the ending, Gwen reassembles their old friends with new friends to save Miles. We see Gwen and Peter B Parker (voiced by Jake Johnson) both come to a moral resolution to curse this “multiverse protection” obligation to help their friend – and that is what makes the conclusion so great to me.

While ITSV cemented itself as a fundamental moment of film history & pop culture, ATSV takes it further.
Every frame of this movie can be a painting. The cinematography is so crisp. From cyberpunk animation style, to patchwork animation style of SpiderPunk/Hobie Brown (voiced by Daniel Kaluuya, to the animation of the SpiderMan India’s (voiced by Shubman Gill) Mumbattan – the animation of this movie reflects the film at its pivotal points, which is what truly makes it a 5 star film.

In my opinion, this film surpasses its predecessor by miles. It is such a treat to SpiderMan fans, Marvel fans, and to film & animation enjoyers in general. Seeing this movie is such a once in a lifetime experience that everyone needs to watch at least once. I rate this film a 5 out of 5 stars. Such a great movie.

The SpiderVerse trilogy is fixing up to be one of the greatest trilogies of all time, and I’d argue that this movie is the greatest SpiderMan film to date. It just brings the panels of a comic book to life in a way that is truly unrivaled in this evolving age of cinema, and breathes fresh air into such a seminal, classic franchise.

SpiderMan: Across the SpiderVerse is now playing, only in theaters.