Sony has had a rough time over the years with their Spider-man IP. The Sam Raimi films have been pretty good except for the third one, the Andrew Garfield editions weren’t met with many good reviews. So they ended up making a deal with Disney to bring Spider-man to the MCU. This deal bore a lot of fruit but they still wanted to do their speidercenric films under their own Sony banner. That’s where the animation comes in. The first Spider-man Into the Spiderverse film allowed them, with the help of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, to do another Spider-man film under their banner. Even if it featured a different Spider-man than what the audience is used to. That film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature so it makes complete sense that Sony would go back to the well and do a sequel. It was a good gamble on their part.
Spider-man Into the Spiderverse introduced audiences to many different variations of this classic comic book character. The sequel Spider-man Across the Spiderverse doubles down on the many different variations of the character. One in particular besides Miles Morales (Shamiek Moore) gets a complete story arc. And that character is Spider Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) She has a terrific arc dealing with her father Captain Stacy (Shea Wigham) and then gets thrust into the main storyline. The Morales character has a great arc as well dealing with his parents, voiced by (Brian Tree Henry and Luna Lauren Velez), and their approval of him as well. The main storyline is very complicated involving a character called the Spot (Jason Schwartzman) who was affected by the explosion at the end of the first film. So both films are tied together in more ways than people would expect, besides the obvious.
Part of why these films are so great is the voice-over cast. The filmmakers have assembled a stellar cast for this film. Besides the ones I’ve mentioned, there is Oscar Isaac as Spider-man 2099/Miguel O’Hara Issa Rea as Jessica Drew, Jake Johnson as Peter B Parker/Spider-man, Karan Soni as Spider-man India, and Daniel Kaluya and Hobie Brown/Spider-Punk. These are just a handful of characters in this movie. It’s loaded with many characters voiced by many actors. A lot of them are comedic actors who bring the laughs to the film. All of these characters I’ve mentioned play a big part in these movies in the series. And they are all important to the overall story. Each character brings an interesting aspect to the story and film.
Part of what makes these movies very accessible to many audiences is the action sequences. With this being a Spider-man film you know there are going to be massive action scenes. Even though it’s an animated film there are at least three major action sequences. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time watching along. With this world that has been created the laws of physics are thrown out and the animators are allowed to do some crazy things. A variation on the Vulture/Adrien Toobs is one example. He looked to be out of an old drawing from a while back. And another scene where a bunch of Spider-man variants is chasing Miles is just straight-up bonkers. These are just a couple of wild scenes that the animation team got to play around with that audiences will love.
The filmmakers chose to use a specific style of animation most of the time though. Animation is similar to the first film that resembles that of a comic book style. I understand their depiction to use this style of animation. It just didn’t always work for me. There was shallow depth of field issues and the various styles didn’t always mix with the other styles on screen. That being said the animation is a variable cornucopia of styles. The filmmakers knew what they were doing mixing all these different aspects. It just didn’t always work for me in particular. The audience will surely love what they see. And I’m sure this film will look great in 3D if they have that option available to viewers.
One of the best parts of the movie for me specifically was the storyline involving the character’s families and the drama and heft that those bring to the film. Spider-man has always had to balance his personal life with being a superhero and there is no difference in this film except for all the multiverse stuff and many variations of the character. Both Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy have difficult lives because they are living dual lives. That of a teenager in school and a superhero. Sometimes these lives come in conflict with one another and it causes issues at home with their parents. I felt these aspects of the story brought a very dramatic real-world element to a movie that is a bit out there regarding the multiverse stuff.
As far as antagonists in the movie the main one is the Spot. He brings a crazy vibe to the story but like in a lot of comic book stories sometimes the heroes fight amongst themselves and this movie has a huge plot thread that deals with the various Spider-people fighting each other of a misunderstanding or miscommunication. So there are essentially two villains if you will. This leads to the film being quite long at over two hours and fifteen minutes. It’s only part of a two-part film though. So this story isn’t finished by the end of the film. There is enough drama to go around though and the writers and directors have kept me interested I definitely can’t wait to see how this story concludes. This one was very exciting and action-packed.
3 ½ stars
Dan Skip Allen