Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – Film Review

The Marvel Spider-Man universe has had many different versions of the friendly neighbourhood hero. But it wasn’t until Sony’s Animation branch entered the franchise that we got a different kind of hero.

With a new central character of Miles Morales, and the freedom of animation, this film quickly became one of my favourites from the greater selection of Marvel x Spidey films.

I had long been waiting for a sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and the wait was finally over with the release of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. After waiting for so long, five years to be exact, was it worth the wait? Yes and no, and I will explain why.

Miles Morales, voiced by Shameik Moore, has been without his cross-universe Spidey-pals for some time now. Miles is a little older, taller and stronger. However, without a mentor, he struggles to find that balance between being a hero, a student, and a son. It is when Gwen Stacy / Spider-Woman, voiced by Hailee Steinfeld, appears from another dimension that Miles discovers just how big the multi-verse is.

Following Gwen into the alternate-dimension, Miles meets an elite crew of Spideys and their leader, Miguel O’Hara, voiced by Oscar Isaac. Known as the Spider-Society, the team work to keep the fabric of space and time in-tact. We are introduced to Pavitr Prabhakar (Karan Soni), an Indian Spider-Man, Jessica Drew (Issa Rae), an African American Spider-Woman, Hobart “Hobie” Brown (Daniel Kaluuya), a Black British Spider-Punk, as well as some familiar characters with Jake Johnson returning as Peter B. Parker / Spider-Man.

It is here that Miles discovers the true path of his destiny. Sick of being told what he can, cannot, and should do as Spider-Man, Miles fights to forge his own path.

One of the biggest things I appreciated about this latest film in the franchise was that we get more insight into the character of Gwen Stacy. Not only do we find out about her own past and struggles as Spider-Woman, but the art style is also completely different. The animation and colour pallet are much more dramatic. This artistic direction leads to a deeper connection to the emotional struggle of the character.

The changes in animation don’t cease with Gwen’s story line. In the Spider-Society, there are literally hundreds, if not, thousands of different Spideys, all with their own animation style and persona. None more so than Spider-Punk with a magazine clipping, collage style design.

I thoroughly enjoyed the animation style of the first film and the sequel goes well above expectations. The level of detail across the entire film is incredible and whilst at times it is a little over-stimulating, it adds so much more depth to each character. The voice-acting is also thoroughly impressive from the cast. I lost myself in the characters and they all did a fantastic job.

Although the animation and different design techniques are paramount to the films plot, it doesn’t go unnoticed that the writing bleeds so much heart, soul, and drama into every character. Co-written by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and David Callaham, Across the Spider-Verse is dark and moody, yet is not afraid to be self-aware and funny at the same time. And at just over 2hrs 15mins, the film didn’t really feel that long. If anything, it felt like it was just getting started.

And here is where I find my only dislike of the film. Right when I was ready for everything to be wrapped up, the film ends. I meticulously avoided any press relating to this film and I honestly had no idea this was a two-part film, so I am a little annoyed by this. But at the same time, the directorial choice by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson to split the film in two makes sense.

I am unsure if they would have been able to keep it as a singular feature and still keep all the heart and soul that Across the Spider-Verse has. So much of Gwen’s back story would have to be cut, and I feel it is some of the best parts of the film. One thing is for sure, it is going to be a hell of a long wait to wrap up this franchise.

Abrupt end aside, Across the Spider-Verse is still a solid film and the animation alone is worth seeing on the big screen. Getting to meet more Spideys was fun. Throw in another incredible score and soundtrack by Daniel Pemberton and you have got yourself one hell of a cinematic experience. However, if you are seeking for a complete and final story, you may be disappointed.

The main take away, for me, is that Miles Morales is quickly becoming my favourite Spidey across all platforms. He is way bolder and more ambitious than any Peter Parker is, and I deeply admire that in the character. I just hope that in the end, the wait for the third film will be worth it.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is in cinemas now.

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