Thursday, June 8, 2023

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse - Movie Review

The Movie: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse

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

The Cast: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren VĂ©lez, Jake Johnson, Jason Schwartzman, Issa Rae, Karan Soni, Daniel Kaluuya, Mahershala Ali, Oscar Isaac

The Story: Miles Morales catapults across the Multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its very existence. When the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles must redefine what it means to be a hero.

The Review:
It's no secret that this movie is essentially part one of a two part finale to the Spider-verse saga that will culminate next year with 2024's Beyond the Spider-Verse installment so of course there is no definitive ending. Without giving anything away, I will say that the story gets pretty dark and intense towards the end and yes, there is a cliffhanger style finish, the type that makes me think the writers were very much inspired by The Empire Strikes Back's shocker of an ending and overall tone. I really hope that the filmmakers can bring this story home in the final installment, it'll be no small task to maintain the level of quality both this movie and the first film have set.

Before watching this movie, I felt like adding an endless amount of Spider-people might be a bit much to throw into a story arc that so far has been quite brilliant but studios are always like, "hey that worked, let's do the same thing but way bigger and way more!" so here we are. Based on what's shown in the trailer, it just feels like there's way too many to give any of them true justification for being there and a valid reason for why they are all gathering together. I mean, how does it all make sense while still focusing on Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy, the two primary characters from the first film.

Right there is where I found what I feel is a significant flaw and one that could have derailed the whole thing but it all ended up being okay. Of course, this being a spoiler free review, I won't be going into the detail here of what that means but just understand that anything that seems like it might get overblown and convoluted in a movie, especially a sequel, probably will end up doing just that. And again, here we are. Rest assured that the movie as a whole is still pretty fantastic and you'd be hard pressed to find a completely flawless film so no worries at all.

From a visual perspective, t's great to see such amazingly creative animation styles explored in some truly unique ways and a lot more than re-hashing stuff we saw in the first movie. Every frame of the sequel looks and feels like actual comic books exploded onto the screen with each character having their own style of how they are presented in the movie. There are also so many easter eggs, inside jokes, and other various references, you are going to have to watch the movie multiple times to take it all in.

I also really enjoyed the family dynamic between Miles (voiced by Shameik Moore) and his parents Jeff and Rio (voiced by Brian Tyree Henry and Luna Lauren Velez respectively) with the young teenager showing growth from the last time we saw him yet still running webs first into more learning experiences. The lvoe between the trio always feels very authentic and is always central to all of the decision making and motivations behind everything they do. Throw in more great work from the ever impressive Hailee Steinfeld and a strong effort from Oscar Isaac and the bar just gets raised higher and higher.

The Verdict:
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse is a multiversal feast for the eyes that is so jam packed with wall crawling, web spinning awesomeness, you won't want it to end. Fortunately, there's another movie coming early next year so the wait won't be too long for the climactic conclusion.

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