“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” Review

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“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” Rating: 2/5

The long-awaited sequel to “Into the Spider-Verse” has arrived! But does it live up to the hype?

We find Miles Morales further along into his Spider-Man journey, having a tough time grappling with the responsibilities of balancing his heroics with everyday life. When inserted into the multiverse, he is exposed to many different Spider-People. A new threat is on the horizon, and each of them have conflicting ways of dealing with it. Can Miles work with them? Or will he be forced to do it alone?

Positives

For better or worse, the film expands on the ideas of the first film. I preferred the simplicity and surprises of the first film to this personally.

I believe most will enjoy the grand scale of the multiverse and Spider-People. The world building is immense and the creativity is on full scale. Credit to the team behind the film on continuing to push the boundaries of animation. It is quite eye-popping at times and will certainly satisfy those who enjoy the comic book style. I especially enjoyed the aspect of using color to reflect emotion during certain scenes. This is something that a live action film could never do, which strengthens the argument for the importance of animation in film.

I’ll also give the film credit for expanding on the idea of what it means to be Spider-Man (although it feels copied from other “Spider-Man” movies).

Negatives

Here come the hot takes (don’t worry, I’m ready)! I found “Across the Spider-Verse” to be an incredibly busy movie. While the animation style will appeal to some, I found the glitchy nature of the multiverse to be headache-inducing. I don’t think it works for a feature film, even an animated one. The rest of the animation combines a street graffiti style with a comic book sketch. Much like the first film, it just wasn’t for me. But even the first film had a better balance of it.

I also feel the film borrows many ideas that have already been explored in previous “Spider-Man” films. Making choices and realizing the weight of being a superhero (“Spider-Man 2”); realizing the consequences of multiverse travel (“No Way Home”) and etc. are all explored from a different perspective. It’s an admirable effort, but it doesn’t feel altogether fresh.

I’m actually shocked at how many people seem to think this film is reinventing the wheel and introduces game-changing comic book ideas. For me, I just don’t agree. I found the multiverse portion of the film to be sensory overload. Combined with the bombastic animation, we are introduced to too many different Spider men, women, animals and more. It’s just too much — I feel as though the Spider-Man character is being milked to the degree where his innocence and friendly-neighborhood-feel are gone. Now, he’s a tool for exploring the multiverse and creating every which way of a different spin on the character. I know this is explored in the comics, but it’s certainly not my preference for the character. Spider-Man diehards of the comics will likely find the most enjoyment of this aspect.

The runtime was also an issue. At 2 hours and 20 minutes, the film feels incredibly stuffed and overlong. I felt as though the story was padded to a degree where it was just a setup for the next film. Certain sequences are drawn out and feel inconsequential to the central plot. The cliffhanger ending also fell flat for me. Again, I feel like die-hard comic fans will enjoy this, but general audience members taking their kids to see this might feel underwhelmed with the story overall. The film was incredibly frustrating for me, especially after how much I enjoyed the first one.

Conclusion

“Across the Spider-Verse” certainly excels in being an immersive comic book animated feature. But the sensory overload, animation style and overlong story bog the film down.

I’m sure most will enjoy this more than I did, but I have to be honest…I did not enjoy the film. I’m shocked at how much credit and praise it’s getting. The story template is neither fresh nor interesting. But to each their own.

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