'Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse' review: Amazing, spectacular, sensational


'Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse' is arguably the best Spider-Man movie ever made... for now. – Photos: Sony Pictures Malaysia

Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse
Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson
Voice cast: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Vélez, Jake Johnson, Jason Schwartzman, Issa Rae, Karan Soni, Daniel Kaluuya and Oscar Isaac.

Amazing. Spectacular. Sensational. Superior. Whatever superlative that has been used to describe your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, it could probably be used to describe Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse.

Yeah, I know that’s a pretty bold statement to make. But really, out of the eight Spidey features released so far since 2002’s Spider-Man, this is the one that resonates on the most levels – whether it’s visually, musically, or emotionally, or in terms of character development, action, plot, script, and plain and simple entertainment.

Spider-Miles and Spider-Gwen, sitting in a tree... Spider-Miles and Spider-Gwen, sitting in a tree...

Quick disclaimer here though, I’m a huge fan of 2018's Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, and have arguably watched it more than 20 times already. I also read a lot of Spider-Man comics, so am pretty familiar with the concept of the Spider-Verse (which, trust me, is way more complicated in the comics).

But if you’re not, don’t fret. Here’s all you need to know – in the last movie, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) got bitten by a radioactive spider, and got spider powers. He then had to do battle with Kingpin, who had built a contraption called a Collider that could open portals to other dimensions, and as a result, other Spider-people were sucked into Mile’s Earth, including Gwen Stacy a.k.a Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld), a washed-up Spidey a.k.a Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), Spider-Man Noir, and Peter Porker, the Spider-Ham (don’t ask, just go with it. You’re going to need it).

Hey Miles, can you Spot your new villain?Hey Miles, can you Spot your new villain?

In Across The Spider-Verse, Miles comes up against a new villain, The Spot (Jason Schwartzman), who poses an even bigger threat to the Multiverse. But a 'Spider Society' of Multiversal Spider-Men led by the brooding Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac) a.k.a. Spider-Man 2099 (whom you might recognise from the post-credit pointing scene at the end of Into The Spider-Verse) is here to help.

Other than Gwen, Miguel's team also comprises a black, pregnant Spider-Woman/Jessica Drew (Issa Rae), Hobie, the Brit punk rocker Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya), Spider-Man India a.k.a Pavitr Prabhakar (Karan Soni), and Scarlet Spider a.k.a. Ben Reilly (Andy Samberg).

Is that too many Spider-people for you? Well, hold on to your Web-Slinger horses, because Across The Spider-Verse ups the ante by a thousand fold in terms of number of Spider-People. On top of that, you get cameos from Spider-Cat, Lego Spider-Man, Spider-Rex, Spider-Mobile a.k.a Peter Parkedcar, Manga Spidey, the cowboy Web-Slinger... you get the picture.

Why do superheroes from the future always get the coolest costumes?Why do superheroes from the future always get the coolest costumes?

Now, you may think that this web-full of Spideys is the main draw of Across The Spider-Verse. You’d be wrong. Because this movie is so much more than just an excuse to squeeze as many Spider-People into one movie as possible.

It’s also a heartfelt, emotional family drama that revolves around not just Miles, but Gwen as well. Their relationships with their respective parents form the emotional core around which this movie revolves – Gwen’s story, in particular, will have you tearing up even before the opening credits roll.

The remarkable thing about Across The Spider-Verse is the way it allows time for all the main characters to develop, and still have time for supporting characters like Jess Drew, Hobie and Pavitr to shine.

With The Spot, you also get a villain who starts out as a comical ‘villain of the week’ (that opening fight with Miles is a great precursor to the entire movie), but ends up being so much more. To reveal more about him would spoil the movie, so let’s just say that The Spot really puts Miles in a tight spot, and might even be a more formidable foe than Kingpin himself.

What's up, danger?What's up, danger?

And we haven’t even talked about the visuals yet. If you thought Into The Spider-Verse’s colourful, kinetic, vibrant animation style was groundbreaking, this one takes it up several notches, with each new Spider-World giving us new wonders to behold.

Gwen’s Earth is painted in emotionally charged watercolours, Mile’s reminds me of a bustling hip-hop music video, Pavitr’s takes us into a vibrantly modern India, Hobie is rendered in a style reminiscent of magazine cutouts from old British music magazines, and Miguel’s Nuevo York is a sleek, futuristic Tomorrowland of tech.

The only gripe I have is that sometimes it can get a little TOO busy when all these different elements gather on the same screen, and especially since the entire film seems to be a blur of constant motion, but you’d be too busy soaking it all in to care. It could also be a bit too intense for small children, which is why this has a PG12 rating.

Spider downtime could get a little awkward at times.Spider downtime could get a little awkward at times.

But really, I could gush on and on about this film. The music, the voice cast, the in-jokes, the Easter eggs... there is just so much to absorb and love about this on so many levels, no matter whether you're a Spidey geek, a superhero fan, an animation lover, an action buff, or just a casual movie goer.

Personally, I wanted to watch this again immediately after I left the cinema, and I'm pretty sure it would not be my last viewing of the movie.

To go back to the point about every superlative used to describe Spider-Man, here's one more – this really is the ULTIMATE Spider-Man movie. At least until Beyond The Spider-Verse comes out next year. I can't wait.

10 10

Summary:

The best Spider-Man movie ever... for now.

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