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  • Writer's pictureNoah Yard

"Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse" is Amazing... Duh!


Image: Sony Animation/Marvel


There is a lot of hype and build-up when there is such a long time between an original film and its sequels. In the five years since the release of ‘Into the Spider-Verse’, the film hasn’t lost its lustre or beauty, as a piece of pure art. There was a lot of pressure on the development of its sequel Across the Spider-verse, being delayed multiple times. But I’m so relieved to say that the sequel really does live up to the original in so many ways and surpasses it in many more with great emphasis on characterisation, connection and the theme of family.


Set two years after the first movie, Miles Morales has really found his footing as a solid superhero who’s in control of that aspect of his life but still struggles with the balance between life with his family and life as Brooklyn’s only Spider-Man.


Enter Gwen, who Miles hasn’t seen in two years, and misses a lot, and the adventure begins to unfold. It takes them to all sorts of new places and allows them to meet a brand new cast of Spideys that have a lot more emotional heft and depth of characterisation than the last crew. Not to say that Spider Noir and Spider-ham weren’t great characters, they were entertaining and introduced us to the Spider-Verse.


This time around, however, every new Spider-Man/Woman you meet has an impact or is an integral part of the story, pushing it forward to emotional and impactful events and developments.


The first new character you meet as Miles is sucked back into these alternate worlds is Pavitr Prabhakar, or Spiderman India, who lives in a universe where there’s a hybrid city of Mumbai and Manhattan called Mumbattan. Pavitr is just as if not more charming as every other spider-person. He gives us a tour of his city and his perfect life as Spiderman, a stark contrast to the life Miles lives, and is just genuinely very funny without being gimmicky.


He follows Peter and Gwen on their adventure as they chase Spot, or The Spot, a comically inept villain who looks and sounds very silly. Although he is what Miles calls “the Villain of the week,” he remains a constant threat throughout the movie.


In their quest to beat him, they come across Spider-Punk/Hobie Brown, a British anti-establishment and anti-fascist ball of mayhem. His voice actor is Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya, and sometimes it's hard to understand his accent which was frustrating because when you did understand him what he says is poignant and hilarious. He is the one that pushes Miles not to lean too heavily on tropes and clicks and is just a great addition to the cast.


Then there’s Oscar Isaac’s Spider-man 2099- a large “ninja vampire” who runs the spider society, a group of Spider-men who join forces to solve interdimensional threats. Isaac plays a great anti-hero, menacing but also a fierce protector. By his side is Issa Rae’s Spider-Woman/ Jess Drew, who doesn’t get as much character development besides being an enforcer and revealing that she is expecting a baby. Still, Issa Rae does a beautiful job with what she is given, and Spider-Woman’s action, fighting with a motorcycle as a weapon, is fricken badass.


Of course, the returning cast of Miles (Shameik Moore), Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) and Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) are knockouts in their roles. Miles plays the perfect mix of humour and vulnerability, and Peter B is funny as well, but it’s Steinfeld’s Gwen Stacey/ Spider Woman who does a lot of the emotional heavy lifting in this movie.


We get a glimpse of Gwen’s back story, and her life within her world which we didn’t see any of in the first movie. Her world is one where everything’s animated in beautiful watercolours, and the colours of the characters and their surroundings change based on mood. When Gwen is at her lowest the world is full of deep sad blues and purples, the world shifting around her as she deals with inner turmoil, or dark reds during arguments.


She’s not the only one with her own animation style that adds to the bricolage of visuals Spider-verse has to offer. Spider-Punk is drawn on scraps of ripped-up paper and Spider-Man India is vibrantly coloured with thicker, more solid lines. The general 2.5D animation style that the first movie made famous is followed through with the rest of the characters and moments throughout the film. Sometimes it looks like intimate moments are drawn, or big action sequences are computer generated, and sometimes both. I mentioned how well Puss in Boots 2 utilised this style, but we all know that Spider-Verse has perfected it.


In terms of plot the movie moves a lot slower than the last, choosing to take its time developing Miles and Gwen’s stories, their troubles, and trials before really jumping into the meat of the movie. Every scene is given its big moments. One big montage towards the end of the movie is particularly interesting, while most movies do the wrap-up after the big fight really quickly, Across the Spider-Verse moves almost painfully slow in its final act making sure we feel the emotional weight of every moment. It’s brilliant and it had me feeling so many emotions in a part of the movie that would normally have passed in a regular Marvel affair.


The action sequences are actually the fastest, whip-fast, bright and loud and in your face. When the team fights Vulture (who is a Da Vinci-era version of himself drawn on cardboard it looks like) in the beginning of the movie, while both sides get their licks in, the fight is efficient.


I’m not usually this emphatic, but if you don’t go and see Across the Spider-Verse as fast as you possibly can you’re an idiot who is missing out. The emotional storyline matched with its bombastic style of animation and action makes this movie a double hitter and a true joy to watch.





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