Spider-Man Across The Spider-Verse Movie Review: Warning — Potential Spoilers: As I walked out of the theatre after two hours and 20 odd minutes, I sought a moment to myself. I found a corner to sit and process what I had just watched. “What was that!” I constantly questioned myself. After a few minutes, the first few words that came to my mind were, “This was art on the big screen.”
Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a follow-up of 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse which brings back Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) and Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld). However, this time around, there are a lot of Spider-people involved and the multi Spider-Verse at stake.
The trailers and promotional content has already revealed that the new Spider-Man movie will introduce several Spider-People and characters from the comic books. These include Miguel O’Hara (voiced by Oscar Isaac), Jessica Drew (Issa Rae), Pavitr Prabhakar (Karan Soni) and Hobie Brown aka Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya) who are chasing down the anomalities in every Spidey dimension after the collider was destroyed in the first part of the movie.
Led by Miguel O’Hara, the Spidey squad have their little wins, not realising that a bigger danger was growing in an alley in Brooklyn in Miles’ version of the Earth. As the film branches out, we meet the different Spider-people and learn how big of a ‘Spot’ they have to deal with.
Without delving further into the plot of the movie, it is safe to say that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is one of the best superhero movies in years, and this includes the live-action ones. Writers Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and David Callaham along with directors Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson, and screenplay writers Phil Lord & Christopher Miller and David Callaham bring to life every Spider-Man comic books fan’s dream on the big screen.
Not only do they bring several Spider-people in one frame, which is nothing but a treat for fans, but they also give an arc the Spider-people in focus. Unlike the first part, in which directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman invest good amount of time into developing Miles and Peter B. Parker/Spider-Man’s (Jake Johnson) bond, background and their potential future, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse chooses to pace things up.
It tries to tell the backstory of each leading Spider-person character with the help of graphic style flashbacks — like you are merely flipping through the comics — and narration instead of playing out each and every scene of their backstory. Even for someone who has not read all the Spider-Man comics, this style of crash-course narration proves effective to learn about the character and allows you to invest in them enough to follow the story.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’s most powerful tool is the visuals. The film elevates the game by several notches, telling not one but multiple tales in one frame using the graphic shapes, bold colours, strong composition and simplified design.
Spoiler: There is a scene featuring Gwen and her father who are torn between choosing their relationship as a father and daughter and choosing their duties. Their divided take on the situation is not only told through their dialogues but with the shades in the frame. Ranging from the reds of anger to the blues of disappointment and whites of defeat, Gwen and her father’s scenes makes you sit down and do a mise-en-scène breakdown. Gwen is undoubtedly the star of this movie.
While most parts of the film follow a similar style of animation, it is when Hobie Brown aka Spider-Punk is introduced that you notice how effortlessly the makers have blend different Spider-Man comics styles on the big screen. Given that he stands out the most, not once do you find yourself distracted by the different style of animation.
Special mention to the portion featuring Pavitr Prabhakar and Mumbattan. Given that the franchise already shifts from the traditional all-white Spider-Man movies format from the first film, the second one gives a lot of prominence to the Indian version of the Spider-Man, putting India on the global map. What I loved about this portion was the depiction of India. Steering far, far away from stereotypes, the film pokes fun at four people riding a bike, the whole ‘chai tea’ concept and more. You are bound to hoot and applaud in this portion. Pav, as Gwen calls him in the movie, wins you over instantly.
What is a Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse film review if there is no mention of the music. Keeping the tradition of the first film’s impressive playlist going, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse also boasts of some really good songs. However, unlike my first experience, where I couldn’t stop humming Sunflower, the songs from the second film did not stick with me for as long as I was hoping it to.
Another issue that I had with the movie was the ending. It felt very abrupt. While I understand where the makers are coming from, the ending feels like a sudden snap in the cord. I wish the ending was a little more rounded.
Nevertheless, people who have read comic books and played Spider-Man games will fall in love with this movie. The film is packed with Easter eggs in almost every scene. It is everything and more a Spidey fan could have asked for.
Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse releases in India on June 1.