After 5 years, a global pandemic, one FIFA world cup and several not-so-good movies, everyone’s favourite mask-wearing superhero, Miles Morales returns to our screens in another web-slinging spectacle.
This time, producers – Chris Miller and Phil Lord take us through an exciting adventure across the multiverse or should I say, Spider-Verse.
Building on the groundbreaking success of its predecessor, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”, the highly anticipated sequel, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” was released on June 2, 2023. The movie weaves together stunning animated visuals, dazzling action that is almost neck breaking and the lovely narrative of diversity and heroism that made us fall in love with Miles Morales.
Sounds exciting right? But is this enough to take you out of your house on a wet day in a traffic-ridden state like Lagos, Nigeria? Buckle up, it’s time to get tangled in the web of the Spider-Verse.
Across the Spider-Verse
With a running time of 140 minutes, Across the Spider-Verse is at least 20 minutes longer than its predecessor. Also this time, there’s a different directorial team – Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson.
Once again, the story focuses on some familiar Spider-faces like Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), and Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld). Some other characters from the first movie return like Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), but there are a whole lot of new Spidey characters. Daniel Kaluuya debuts as Hobie, Shubhnam Gill as Pavitr Prabhakar, and Oscar Isaac as the stern Miguel O’Hara amongst many others.
Yes, there was an Indian Spider-Man. I’m slightly hurt that there wasn’t an African one. Don’t we have enough sky scrapers to sling from?
So you must have guessed by now that there are multiple Spider-People in the multi-verse. Yeah, we saw that in “Into the Spider-Verse” but trust me nothing prepares you for the sheer amount of Spider-people you will get to see in this movie.
From Spider-Men to Spider-Women to Spider-Toys, to Spider-Animals to Spider-Pets from different dimensions and realities. There’s even a Spider-Avatar courtesy of a VR mask–which gives me a cool idea of what to use my Apple Vision Pro once I order it. This is what is known as the Spider-Verse or ‘arachno-humanoid-polymultiverse‘ if you want to be like grumpy ol’ Miguel.
Like every Spider-Person, everyone has a unique origin story, mostly born out of being bitten by a Spider and the loss of a loved one. They all have different costumes and personalities too, like Hobie (played by Daniel Kuluuya) with his graphic punk style and his anarchist personality.
So, back to Miles.
Across the Spider-Verse is set in a timeline about a year after the events of the first movie. Miles is almost 16 now, dealing with the consequences of living a double life. He’s constantly late to events and his parents can’t seem to help since they are in the dark about his superhero life. As such, he’s lonely, and misses his Spider-friends who would be able to relate to his current predicament–you can say he was depressed.
At the same time, Gwen is also back in her own universe and struggles with her dual identity as well. In her own case, this has put a lot of tension on her relationship with her dad. At some point, she had to make a decision to leave her life behind and move on to be a part of the Spider-people defence force, Spider-Society – which is led by Miguel.
They both reconnect again and go on to play a major role “Across the Spider-Verse” as young people refusing to submit to the concept of what a hero’s life should be. But this is not your average teenage superhero story where the hero is a bumbling fool who thinks his power is a burden, this is one where the superhero recognises his privilege and wants to prove himself.
This is re-emphasised when Miles faces the villains of the movie, Spot (Jason Schwartzman) as well as the semi-villain, Miguel.
Beautiful Animations, Big Actions
The first movie was a hit in terms of animations, but this is a banger!
Across the Spider-Verse shows its animation prowess once again, continuing the brilliance that helped Into the Spider-Verse take home the Best Animated Feature at the 2019 Oscars. This time it took 1000 people working on it for 3 years with a budget of $100 million.
With a watercolour animation feel to it, the movie creates a stunning, wild palette which helps with the storytelling. There is also a merge of hand drawings and CGI, alongside interesting details like speech bubbles, animation bursts, and action slants – the typical comic vibe, which is a good break from the “green-screen” movies.
Every character carries a resembling visual style to their universe. You can see that in the bright and colourful, Earth TRN684 where Gwen Stacy is from and in the sketch outlined Mumbattan, the home of Pavitr Prabhakar.
Also, there’s continuity from the first movie in terms of keeping the original character’s appearance when moving across different multiverses. This is visible when you see Miles jump dimensions from his 3D world to a 2D world and he still keeps his 3D character appearance as opposed to switching to fit the new world.
But it’s not just the beauty of the animations, it’s also how chaotic the action in the movie is, but in a good way. Blink and you definitely would have missed some actions–it’s almost dizzying. The moments you have to soak in all the emotions are few, like the rooftop chat between Gwen and Miles.
But hey, that’s why it’s an animation.
The movie’s score also adds to the fun once again like the first movie. Featuring producer Metro Boomin, Swae Lee, Future, Offset, Lil’ Wayne, Nas and Wizkid, the heavy techno hip-hop enhances the cyber punky nature of the movie.
For an animated movie, the voice performance of the different actors are also perfect.
Unlike recent movies, there also is no forced humour in Across the Spider-Verse which is a relief, considering how all our favourite superheroes have recently been trying so hard to get their own standup comedy show.
Get Tangled in Spider-Verse or Not?
To be honest, it’s hard to find something to criticise about the new Sony Movie except that it might be a bit too long by at least 20 mins. Also, the slightly over-complicated storytelling with so many characters and universes (with their weird numbers) can make it too much for some people.
In all, it’s an amazing animated movie that swings high and flips well. The cliffhanger ending sets the tone for the release of the third movie “Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse” which will be released on March 29, 2024. So should you add your money to the over $230 million it has made at the box office? Absolutely.
One thing is certain when the movie ends, you will be shocked, you won’t care for the 140 minutes of runtime and you will somewhat wish for more (I shouted “What!” in the theatre). But remember, “with great power, comes great responsibility…”
PS: When the movie ends, don’t wait for post-credits, there isn’t one.
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