Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse Review

A Guy Who Talks About Movies
6 min readJun 4, 2023

Let’s talk about Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse.

Sony’s handling of the Spider-Man property is a discussion that can immediately get 1000 comments on a Reddit thread. They’ll all agree as well, because Reddit always agrees lest you want to get downvoted into oblivion. They’ll say Sony is wrecking Spider-Man and the day they lose the rights will be one to celebrate with lots of guns and booze. I think it’s a bit more nuanced than that. They aren’t great, but not awful. They’re a bit like Everton over the last couple of years. Mostly bad, but they do just enough good not to get relegated from the Premier League. The good that keeps their head above water includes Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse. It was an animated film that eschewed the usual CGI style and was very innovative and brilliant. It’s a pre-pandemic work that has continued to gain fans as people watch it at home and that means the sequel, Across the Spiderverse, has become as hyped as one of the live action films. But does it live up to this unexpected hype?

Miles Morales is now used to being Spider-Man though he misses Gwen Stacey who has returned to her own universe. But after a dealing with new villain The Spot, the Universes start to fall apart again, which not only allow Miles to meet with Gwen again but also has him come face to face with Miguel O’Hara, a Spider-Man who runs the Spider Society and tries to keep the Spiderverse in tact.

We have to talk about the animation first. This style has changed animation in movies. For a long time, the only animation we got was 3D CGI. Even Disney had buckled, scrapped it’s iconic hand drawn animation studio, and now only produce animated movies in that style. But because of well received the style for Into the Spiderverse was, we have actually variety now. Dreamworks, who helped to kick off the 3D craze, are now blending their CGI with Spider-Man’s style for films like the recent Puss in Boats and the Bad Guys to great success. And when you watch this movie, you can see why they have copycats. It’s stunning. Not only does it look like a comic book come to life, but it’s just a visual treat where you’d have so many shots up on your walls as posters. Heck, you’d frame those posters because then you’d look mature. This is probably going to be the best looking film all year.

It also helps the action a lot. When you have a set of very good live action Spider-Men films out there at the moment, you do have to justify your existence. After all with special effects now, there’s a lot of things doable in live action that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago. What they do is make the action quicker than the flash. Ok so that’s the wrong superhero, and one we’ll get to soon enough, but this film is rapid in terms of its action scenes. It’s proper blink and you’ll miss it stuff anytime there’s a fight or a city to be saved. They do the little comic book panel pop ups again but I swear sometimes they are on screen for less than a second before they disappear. Sometimes, this is a problem. It’s quite easy to lose track of the characters in the fights and to get back orientated again. It’s like when you’re at an ice hockey match and you lose track of the puck and it can take you a few seconds to see it and oh wait it’s in the back of the net and seriously why do the Steelers suck this year. Ahem. While that is a minor problem, for the most part it’s just incredible to watch.

Combine the visuals with the incredible soundtrack the movie offers and you have something special as well. A lot of the praise for the soundtrack usually goes to the more modern music in it. That’s because the hip-hop music used, I’m sure there’s a more specific genre it belongs to but I’m a moron who can’t be bothered to research so I apologise, really creates the vibe the film is going for. It again helps separate it from the live action Spider-Man films which don’t have this sort of music and it just sort of fits really well. But when the music gets very good is when it returns to the orchestra. It’s incredible. The film really gets to slam home its moments with the music it’s offering which is like a hammer blow to the senses. I had been noticing for a while that many films were starting to move away from orchestras as they looked for their moods to be established using different ways. That’s fine but with this and The Little Mermaid last week, the power of a brilliant orchestra in film is shown.

But it doesn’t matter if it looks good and sounds good if the substance isn’t there. Thankfully, it is. This is an incredible story which builds on the great foundation left for it by the first movie. What’s most interesting about the story is on how it uses our knowledge of Spider-Man to create something quite emotional. There have been a lot of Spider-Men at this point across movies, TV and comic books. And if you’ve seen a few of them, you know while there are a lot of differences between each retelling, there’s quite a few core concepts that remain the same. With great power comes great responsibility, some web shooting and someone close to Spider-Man will die and it will usually be their fault as well. Usually Uncle Ben. Using the concept of the Spiderverse well, Miles can see this tragedy and try to rally against it despite everything, including the fate of the Multiverse, is leaning on this. Much like Everything Everywhere All At Once, this movie uses the multiverse not only as a way to deliver jokes and amusing creativity but as a way to deliver emotional pathos. There’s also more depth given to Gwen Stacey and some of her scenes with her father are absolutely heart breaking to watch.

There are some flaws to this movie. It’s mostly the pace. It becomes obvious towards the end of the movie, but this film movies at a pretty slow pace. It takes a while to get into the real meat of the story and while the scenes are setting up characters, it can feel a bit of a chore at times. The core of the film is the relationship between Miles and Gwen but it’s well over an hour before they actually meet up. I do wonder how children will enjoy this movie. It is after all an animated film featuring Spider-Man so they should be able to enjoy it but there’s very little action at the start and it then goes on to last almost two and a half hours long. And because of some creative decisions which I won’t spoil, the movie definitely feels incomplete.

Despite some problems with the pacing, Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse is a marvel. It has a strong emotional story which play with the idea of destiny, the animation is incredible and could be called artwork before it is aided by an incredible soundtrack which reinforces every single thing the film is trying to do. This film has had a lot of hype to handle after how unexpectedly good the first film was but this one not only manages to match the first but also be so much better. Watch it and you’ll be stuck in it’s web for sure.



A Guy Who Talks About Movies

Former Head of Movies for Screen Critics. Film Reviews now hosted on Medium.