What’s it about?
Miles Morales is struggling to balance school, family, and the responsibilities of being the new Spider-Man of his universe. Things get far more complicated when Gwen, his friend (and a different universe’s Spider-Woman) swings back into his life and he finds himself racing to save not just his universe, but those of every spider-person.
What’d we think?
Peter Linning says: First things first, it’s fantastic. It’s not hyperbolic to say that I struggled to write the above summary due to the sheer scope of what this movie achieves while still managing to be incredibly grounded and personal. I’ll make my job easier and avoid covering too much of the plot as a lot would be wrapped up in spoilers anyway, but the classic Spider-Man themes of balancing one’s personal life with those of being a hero are given a fresh twist, and explored in genuinely fresh and interesting ways.
As much as I was looking forward to seeing more of the wonderful animation that won the first movie so much praise, I wasn’t expecting them to be surpassed, let alone surpassed so quickly and so impressively. Drawing inspiration from the character’s rich history in comics is one thing, but to have so many unique styles of gorgeous artwork and animation in the one movie is frequently jaw-dropping. There are obvious nods to the art of the early days of the comics and various iterations of the character in print over the years, but straight out of the gate there are delicate pastel watercolours, Da Vinci-notebook-inspired pencilling, abstract expressionism, digital art, stop-motion, live-action and basically any visual medium you can imagine all thrown at you so quickly that you’ll almost be struggling to keep track of everything – except you won’t.
The magic trick this movie manages to pull off is that there’s constantly SO MUCH GOING ON without ever becoming overwhelming. This trick extends beyond the visuals to the story, somehow managing to be massive in scope but with an emotional hook that keeps it incredibly grounded, tempering the incredible action sequences with a great sense of humour and heartfelt emotional moments. Oh, and like the first movie both the score and original music are fantastic.
I only walked out of the cinema an hour ago and my head is still buzzing, but I’m pretty confident that Across the Spider-Verse is the best version of this movie that could possibly exist in any universe.
Sam Donaldson says:
If you’re worried that Across the Spiderverse is just the first film but bigger, you can rest easy. The sequel to the fantastic Into The Spiderverse contains a surprisingly small story despite having larger, more elaborate set pieces and a whole lot of Spider-people.
Across the Spiderverse does what Spiderman: No Way Home didn’t do. It manages to be bursting at the seams with Easter eggs and self-referential jokes without stopping the film to wink at the audience. No Way Home didn’t work for me at all because it didn’t feel like a movie to me – it felt like a meme-generating machine. Across the Spiderverse truly works because while the film allowed itself to have fun, it takes its characters’ dilemmas seriously, allowing moments to sit without someone making a wry comment to break the tension.
It also helps that the animation looks absolutely gorgeous. Different art styles blend together seamlessly. During scenes with two characters pouring their hearts out, the background becomes minimalist with pastel watercolours dripping subtly around the characters to evoke the emotion in the scene. It’s truly wonderful stuff.
It’s worth going into this with very little knowledge of the plot — there are so many pleasant surprises. See this one as soon as possible.