Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse Review – Spectacular Sound and Colour With A Story To Match

More stunning than Avatar: The Way of Water, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the big-event film of the year. It is a concentrated blast of colour and soundv– the type so dense that you’ll have its images appearing in your dreams – and it’s only a thread away from being too frenetic, too inventive, too explosive to keep track of. If it wasn’t broken into two parts, you’d feel like you’ve ended up watching something like the 2001: A Space Odyssey stargate sequence. But beyond the immensely exciting and entertaining visuals – which can’t be overstated, even the end credits are rendered in impressionist oil-paintings –Across the Spider-Verse manages to maintain the high of the Oscar-winning first film, and go far beyond it. 

Since the dimension-colliding events of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) and Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) have been struggling to balance their real lives with their web swinging. Gwen has withdrawn, unable to talk to her cop father about her vigilantism, and Miles has been cutting classes, missing events, and disappointing his family. So, when Gwen gets caught in a battle with an interdimensional criminal, and meets a society of Spider-people like her, she jumps at the chance for guidance and new friends. But a dark matter-powered villain emerges, the multiverse is threatened, and certain dimensional complexities emerge to challenge Miles’ and Gwen’s friendships, family, morality, and willpower. 

If the story seems complex, then know that it is. It also has an even bigger cast of spider-people to meet than the first one, but despite the high-energy, quick-cutting action, and the endless details, it’s all impressively easy to follow. Miles and Gwen get equal time as protagonists, playing off each other in fresh and interesting ways as the plot takes unexpected and intriguing turns, leading to plenty of wonderful surprises. It’s a superhero story that doesn’t feel like a retread, or a variant of the many we’ve seen before, without sacrificing any of their highlights. It’s worth seeing for even those without interest in superhero flicks, and those ads touting Across the Spider-Verse as “The Best Animated Film Of All Time” might not be wrong; it certainly stands side-by-side with Studio Ghibli, Laika, or the glory days of Pixar and many will even prefer Across the Spider-Verse those industry giants.

The voice cast was excellent in Into The Spider-Verse, and are just as good or better here (Oscar Isaac captivates as the boss, Spider-Man 2099). In fact, ‘just as good or better‘ can be said for every element of the film from the jokes, the animation, the songs, and the dialogue – even the runtime is a pleasurable twenty minutes longer. There are more than a handful of spine-chilling, visceral-thrilling moments, where the superb becomes sublime. To try and describe them would be to understate them, and to spoil them. If anything could be criticised (beyond having to wait for the second part, given this ends on a cliffhanger), it would have to be something minor, insignificant; the jokes don’t all land, or they deflate a couple emotional moments. And if you’re unconvinced about its status as Part One, you’ll be glad of it by the end – and wholly excited for the next one.

Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson

Cast: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Isaac

Writers: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Dave Callaham, (based on characters by Stan Lee)

Branden Zavaleta

Branden Zavaleta is a Perth-based film critic. He loves movies that charm, surprise or share secrets. Some little known favourites of his are Ishii's The Taste of Tea, Barboni's They Call Me Trinity, and Kieslowski's Camera Buff.

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