When there is a lot of expectation to follow up an Oscar-winning animation film, you either sink or swim, but not often do you get to thrive. Thankfully, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is fantastic.
The “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” manages to deftly tell a sprawling story across multiverses that remain rooted in themes of family, identity and responsibility that the first film told impeccably.
The second chapter in the Spider-Verse saga sees Miles Morales coping with the balance of responsibility that comes from dealing with Spider-Man but also how that affects his actions and the consequences.
The film has Miles Morales reuniting with Gwen Stacy and involves him being catapulted across the multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its very existence.
However, when the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles finds himself pitted against the other Spiders and must redefine what it means to be a hero so he can save the people he loves most.
While multiverses are the last trend in cinema, and they can certainly be muddled when there isn’t a strong grasp of story, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” doesn’t get lost in what could easily be a confudled story.
The reason for that is what while the scope gets bigger, it is always with purpose, and there is a large emphasis in place on more intimate characters’ interactions.
Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) remains the the charming and endearing character we met in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” but this time he learns to be more assure of himself despite not being in control.
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” gives us more reason to love and root for Miles.
Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) this time gets more to do, in this story and has an emotional arc in the story as she tries to decide for herself what type of hero she wants to be.
Her relationship with her father and Miles grows increasingly complicated for two different reasons but, ultimately, it all stems from her journey of identity and the cost that comes with being Spider-Woman.
We’re also introduced to a new roster of Spider-People with their own tales but they all get woven into Miles story with ease. While we meet a lot of characters, no character is introduced who doesn’t serve a purpose for the story.
Miguel O'Hara (Oscar Isaac), Jessica Drew (Issa Rae), Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya) and Pavitr Prabhakar (Karan Soni) are new characters who all play an integral part in the film but their characters are exciting to watch as they all come with their own character design.
What the first film managed to do so well was incorporate various art styles seamlessly into one film and while the novelty has worn off, it is still no less impressive in “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”.
The reason why it still works very well is because of story and it being character-motivated. It’s definitely stylised with intent but it’s an experience that isn’t easily replicable.
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” manages to improve on the artistic success they achieved in the first film.
While the film is certainly an artistic feast, there are times when it can get overwhelming.
There is a lot going on on the screen at all times. Never too much as it does feel like the film-makers have been mindful to avoid information/visual overload but it is still a lot to process.
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” works on two levels, the hardcore fans who adore the minuscule details that the film is laden with but it also works for the casual moviegoer.
Whatever important information is needed for you to follow the story, it is highlighted in a coherent way but if you want to dig into more of what is happening, you can also pay attention to that.
The film does unfortunately also suffer from the same problem that the “Avatar: The Way of Water” suffered, feeling like the film is holding back because there is another film on the way.
It is certainly tough for film-makers when stories spill over into sequels as it means that viewers are being told half a story with more to come. This usually leaves these type of films with climax endings that feel like the stakes are not as high as what they could be.
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” certainly doesn’t skimp on story and it has an ending that is riveting. That said, it does feel like the film could have committed to a less optimistic ending to really up the ante.
It’s ending, ultimately, doesn’t hurt the film, and will likely play better when the third instalment “Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse” comes out next year.
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is a fantastic sequel, and many who loved the first will love the second. It is original, and that is no small achievement for a sequel.
The film will definitely appeal to those interested in repeat viewings but it will also be worthwhile for those just looking for a fun time out at the cinema.
It gives you the best of the multiverse and then some.
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is now showing at cinemas