Well, the wait’s finally over. It’s been a whopping five years since “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” graced our screens, and we’ve finally been blessed by the spider-gods with a sequel.
For a film with five years of hype behind it, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” lives up to expectations and more. With stunning animation that has come to define the series and action that will please die-hard fans and newcomers alike, “Across the Spider-Verse” is the perfect film for the summer – and any time.
The film picks up where “Into the Spider-Verse” left off, with the first movie’s spider-squad split up across their respective dimensions and performing their superhero duties. After Gwen encounters a group of dimension-hopping Spider-People and Miles faces the new villain, Spot, the pair come back together. However, not everything is as it seems with Miles’ new friends or his new villain, and circumstances may be much more dire.
The plot isn’t really why I’m here, though. For me, it’s all about that animation.
If you’ve seen the first film in the series, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The animation style looks like a comic book come to life, complete with cel-shaded character models, split screens and hatched backgrounds. There’s also a million tiny details in the background to the point that you would literally need to go frame-by-frame to see all of them.
“Across the Spider-Verse” ramps up this animation style even more. We spend a good amount of time in Gwen’s universe, which features stunning watercolor-themed backgrounds that change with the mood of the scene. There’s some outstanding character design as well, including Spider-Punk with his papery textured look.
The animators are pushing the limits of what computer-generated animation can do, and I’m all for it. Each action is dynamic and fun. The backgrounds are beautiful and there isn’t a single scene where the characters feel lifeless. They feel like they’re real and tangible, even if they were created by software.
After seeing just how stunning it is, I’ve come to the conclusion that all superhero movies should be animated. It’s so much easier to make a character look — well — “super” by putting them in an animated space where they can squash and stretch.
The action of “Across the Spider-Verse” also feels so much more satisfying than live-action actors can ever achieve. Spot’s psychedelic superpower allows him to jump through space by generating black holes – a power that is perfectly captured by the animation. The Spider-People are energetic and exciting to watch as they hang upside-down or leap from wall to wall. There are no limits in animation just as there are no limits to their powers.
If you’re a Spider-Man fan, you’ll appreciate the animation and the tie-ins to the larger Spider-Man universe. The film has a ton of references, from common to obscure, without being overbearing.
Disney Marvel fans will appreciate some references to every live-action Spider-Man in recent memory. As the last living 2018 “Venom” fan, I was delighted to see Mrs. Chen. I promise I have good taste in film.
With these references, the film manages to comment on the tropes and legacy of Spider-Man. Nearly all Spider-People share common events and struggles in their stories, and the film explores this concept in the realm of the multiverse. It’s an interesting meta-analysis that adds to the depth of the film.
The movie is tied together with an outstanding voice cast and script. The cast from the last film is still amazing and the new additions are magnificent. Daniel Kaluuya gives an incredibly fun performance as my favorite new character, Spider-Punk. Karan Soni and Oscar Isaac are great as their respective Spider-People as well. Along with this, the script is fun and quirky without losing its emotional core.
The final installment of the trilogy, “Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse,” is set to be released in March of next year. Personally, it can’t come fast enough. I hope, however, that the animators are given the time and space to bring the same creativity to “Beyond” as they did to “Across.” Maybe not five years this time, though. For my sake.