Movie review: ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ is a worthy sequel

The Lantern
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is a coming-of-age story for both Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) and Miles Morales (Shameik Moore). Credit: Sony Pictures Animation/TNS

Released in 2018, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is widely regarded as one of the best superhero movies of all time, as well as one of the best animated films of all time. In fact, it presently occupies spot No. 66 on IMDb’s renowned Top 250 list at the time of publication.

When it was announced in 2019 that there would be two sequels to form a “Spider-Verse” trilogy, a nervous excitement developed within the fan community, leaving moviegoers questioning if the sequels would live up to the original’s impossibly high standard. The answer to this question for “Across the Spider-Verse,” the second installment, is a resounding “It’s better.”

“Across the Spider-Verse” debuted as the highest-rated movie of all time on Letterboxd — a user-based movie reviewing app for film criticism — with a 4.7 out of 5 stars and earned a score of 9.1 out of 10 on IMDb . The praise is warranted. “Across the Spider-Verse” is stunning in every sense of the word — an overwhelmingly beautiful theatrical experience that spins the audience into a web from which they don’t want to escape.

The movie follows Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) trying to juggle the life of being a 15-year-old boy with the responsibility of being a Spider-Man, including battling the interdimensional threat “The Spot” (Jason Schwartzman) alongside his friends Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) and Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson).

The original cast are just as impressive as they were in “Into the Spider-Verse.” New characters, such as Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac), leader of the society of Spider-Men, are a breath of fresh air for the franchise.

Perhaps one of the reasons why “Across the Spider-Verse” is so beloved by audiences is because it is, in every aspect, why people are drawn to movies. There is an intricately and painstakingly detailed plot that gives every major character the time and attention they deserve, while also touching on what makes the many iterations of Spider-Man so popular — a sense of belonging, the idea that anyone can don the mask.

“Across the Spider-Verse” is a chaotically charming conglomeration of Spider-people, representing all different walks of life. Additionally, it’s visually spectacular, showcasing gorgeous cinematography for an animated film and an unfathomable amount of detail in every frame of its masterfully crafted animation. The soundtrack merits acclaim too, as composer Daniel Pemberton adds dimension to every character with their own distinct and spine-tingling theme.

That is not to say the movie is completely perfect. It is one of the lengthiest animated films of all time at 140 minutes, and it shows. Considering the third movie, “Beyond the Spider-Verse,” is set to release in less than a year, “Across the Spider-Verse” can leave viewers wondering just when the movie is going to end and leave room for the next, as there are multiple spots in the movie’s final 30 minutes where it seemed the story could have concluded.

There’s also a heavy dose of fan service in the form of cameo appearances, which may be a positive for some fans of Spider-Man but a negative for fans of tightly wound narratives. But what “Across the Spider-Verse” does well, it does so well that these faults are forgiven.

If you love Spider-Man, astonishing animation or simply great movies, you must swing by your local theater to see “Across the Spider-Verse” as soon as possible.

Rating: 4.5/5

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