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Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Studio: Sony Pictures Animation
Theatrical Release - June 2, 2023
Home Media Release: Digital - August 8, 2023; Physical - September 5, 2023

Miles Morales returns for the next chapter of the Oscar-winning Spider-Verse saga, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. After reuniting with Gwen Stacy, Brooklyn's full-time, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is catapulted across the Multiverse, where he encounters the Spider Society, a team of Spider-People charged with protecting the Multiverse's very existence. But when the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles finds himself pitted against the other Spiders and must set out on his own to save those he loves most. Anyone can wear the mask - it's how you wear it that makes you a hero.

Directed by: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
Written by: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller & David Callaham
Based on: Characters from Marvel Comics
Produced by: Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Christina Steinberg
Executive Producers: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, Aditya Sood, Brian Michael Bendis
Cast: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Velez, Jake Johnson, Jason Schwartzman, Issa Rae, Karan Soni, with Daniel Kaluuya and Oscar Isaac


Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Movie Review
By James Harvey

To call Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse anything short of "amazing" would unquestionably be an understatement. The sequel to 2018's spectacular Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse doesn't try to recreate what made that animated movie so great, but instead organically builds off it, expanding and elevating not just the world of Miles Morales, but arguably the medium itself. Spider-Man: Across the Universe pushes itself harder than anyone could've ever predicted, creating an unforgettable (and gorgeous) animated experience that also doubles as arguably the best Spider-Man movie to date. And that's not hyperbole.

Immediately captivating, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse hits the ground running and never lets up, dishing out awe-inspiring imagery and dazzling visuals at a ridiculous pace. Even in quieter moments, it's impossible not to be in awe of the unrestrained talent on display in literally every single frame. There's something unmistakably brave about this movie, to see such experimental and unbridled creativity in such a bold fashion, and in such a commercial product, one starring one of the most popular comic book characters of all-time at that, is a towering achievement.

Picking up a short while after the events of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles Morales reunites with Gwen Stacy and joins her on a jaunt through the Multiverse! Here she introduces them to The Spider Society, a team of Spider-People from different worlds charged with protecting the Multiverse's very existence. Unfortunately, things quickly turn sour and Miles finds himself pitted against the other Spiders as he races against time and space to save his loved ones!

And while that's basically Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse's plot in a nutshell, it honestly barely scratches the surface. With Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, essentially, about how anyone can wear the mask, Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse deconstructs the consequences of what it means to be a Spider-Man (or Spider-person, more accurately) and trying to forge one's own path. It's a smart take on the established Spider-Man mythos which builds to a major status-quo defying confrontation between Miles and, essentially, the rest of the Spider-People. And despite the massive, universe-shattering stakes, Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse still manages to be an intensely personal and intimate story with real, palpable stakes.

On top of a legitimately gripping story is, of course, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse's jaw-droppingly stunning animation, which somehow surpasses the incredible work of the original and, yes, even continues to be just as groundbreaking. There are moments here of pure mind-blowing art that are unlike anything seen in a big-budget, mainstream animated feature before, and that's no exageration. Directors Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson take the first movie's aesthetics, recognize what it's trying to accomplish, and then just gleefully run wild.

With the film's universe-hopping premise, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is also jam-packed with a wealth of different iterations of the ol' Web-Head. While the majority of these universal variants may only get a few moments on screen, and mostly to comedic effect, there's more than a few standouts here. MVP obviously goes to Spider-Punk, who not only steals nearly every scene he's in (be sure to keep a close eye on him, too), but has one of the film's best designs. Perfectly voiced by Daniel Kaluuya and animated in the style of British punk rock collage art, it's a visually arresting style and a far more interesting take than anything a live-action movie could've likely produced.

Time and time again, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse makes the case that perhaps animation, and not live-action, is the best avenue for these characters to thrive outside of the comic page. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is like the best jam issue of a comic ever, with one staggeringly talented artist after another coming together to create something truly awe-inspiring. This movie is brimming with unforgettable imagery and moments of pure "how did they do that?" movie magic from start to finish.

Thankfully, amidst all that visual wonder is a poignant, stirring story that offers up its fair share of twists, impactful character beats and a host of shocks and surprises, all the while never losing focus on the film's key characters. While Miles Morales remains front and center, Spider-Gwen gets a sizable showcase, starting off with a harrowing cold open that sees her life, essentially, fall apart. Mixing watercolor paints and 3D rendering, Gwen Stacy's world becomes an impressionistic landscape, the scheme of which changes with her mood. It provides Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse with some of its most rousing moments and firmly establishes the film's very palpable, emotional stakes.

Spider-Gwen's story also bridges the film's fantastic visuals and hefty story together, all beautifully served by Hailee Steinfeld's best performance to date. Gwen goes through a pretty tumultuous journey, and it's one that eventually reverberates with every Spider-Person in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Other key Spiders who get sucked into her and Miles' journey includes Spider-Woman, The Scarlet Spider, Spider-Byte and (of course) Spider-Man 2099 (with a go-for-broke performance by Oscar Isaac).

There's so much going on in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse that it truly requires one's full attention. It's easy to get lost in the visuals and miss a lot of the clever script work and equally clever cast performances. The visuals, the story, the characters, the music, every single moment and every single frame, none of it is wasted and all of it is gorgeous. It's spectacular to see such unrestrained ingenuity on display, just bursting off the screen.

This ingenuity and care also extends to the beloved ol' Web-Head himself, of course. Littered throughout are playful (and at times, powerful) nods and appearances from a wealth of different media interpretations of Spider-Man and his world from the last 40+ years. Adored cartoons, fan-favorite games and even the live-action flicks get plenty of love here, and none of it ever feels forced, excessive or cynical. Every little thing about Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse feels genuine, and is overflowing with love toward everyone's favorite wall-crawler(s). Not a fan of Spidey at all? The hypnotic visuals and character-driven story will more than suffice.

Honestly, even this far in, this review is just scratching the surface. There's still so, so much about Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse worth discussing and dissecting, but it feels impossible to adequately cover it all. There's still much that could be said about Miles' compelling continuing journey, and the consistently stellar work by actor Shameik Moore in the title role, or how usually-lame villain The Spot (voiced by Jason Schwartzman) is developed here into a genuinely frightening foe. And then there's even Daniel Pemberton's sublime score work, too! It's pretty amazing how Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse can juggle so much content without losing a single step or feeling overstuffed.

Expanding upon the ideas from its predecessor, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a staggeringly impressive piece of work. Despite how overwhelmingly massive this movie feels, every single aspect of it matters. Crafted with absolute care, there's nothing quite like Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and it's hands down both the year's best animated movie (and just one of the year's best in general). With the exception of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, there hasn't been a film in recent memory that takes advantage of the medium like this one. Seriously.

As those end credits roll, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse will leave viewers begging for the next installment of the Spider-Verse saga, partly thanks to its shocking last-minute twist. Even its 140-minute runtime zips by in a blink. To put it simply: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse one of the most thrilling and inventive animated movies in ages, and a true work of art. To call it a "masterpiece" wouldn't be excessive, just accurate.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is bigger, bolder and a more ambitious project than its predecessor in just about every conceivable way (and even introduces a wealth of characters and worlds each deserving of their own big-screen adventure). Instead of just a shameless rehash of the original, this fantastic sequel builds on what came before in all the right ways while laying the groundwork for what's sure to be unforgettable conclusion to Miles' story in 2024's Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse. One of the best super-hero movies ever made, including live-action entries, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a true, superbly-crafted gem that's unlike anything anyone has ever seen before! And that's not hyperbole. Must See!


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