I’ll be honest sometimes as a critic I walk out of a movie screening thinking ‘how the heck am I going to review that film?’ And this is not necessarily a negative reaction. A movie can have so much going on and have so much to offer it can be intimidating to know how to talk about. Even the title for this review I went back and forth trying to encapsulate how Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse made me feel. The experience, even with some flaws, was unforgettable.
The first aspect we need to talk about is obvious but it is the animation. The first film, Into the Spider-Verse completely dazzled me with its jaw-dropping animation, but they’ve taken it to another level here. For 140 minutes I sat there awe-struck at what I was watching. Every frame is unbelievable and deserves to be framed in a museum. I could easily do one of those every minute podcasts on Across the Spider-Verse and have plenty to say about literally every moment of this film. It’s that astonishing.
What is especially outstanding is the attention to detail. How every inch of the screen has something visually interesting happening whether it is becoming a comic book frame with dot style imagery or the backgrounds turning into a watercolor with the details dripping down the frame. This is a movie with a lot of characters and yet every single one has its own visual flair and style and it’s all maintained within a scene that has its own brand for that style. I don’t even know if that explanation makes sense but it’s true!
Now let’s talk about the story. Like the art there is a lot going on in this plot and it’s a little hard to judge its effectiveness because this is only part 1 and we will get the rest of it in Beyond the Spider-Verse next year. Without spoilers, we rejoin Miles as he he tries to take down the villain Spot who can go through black holes to cause chaos. Miles and Gwen Stacy then end up going through the multi-verse to save all the Spider-People from Spot and things get messy.
For the most part this plot works but there is a section in the middle that gets very exposition heavy and Easter eggs and pithy jokes can only engage me so far. However, they bring everything around to a pulse-pounding 3rd act that really works and left me dying for part 2. I do wonder if kids will enjoy this movie? It’s kind of surprising it got a PG rating with the intense moments and themes. It also might be over-stimulating for kids sensitive to that kind of experience. You know your kid and can gage accordingly.
There are some saying Across the Spider-Verse is better than its predecessor but I would disagree. The screenplay was a lot simpler and tighter with that film, so I do prefer it. However, they have created a visual achievement that must be seen in the theater to be fully appreciated. I was blown away by what these incredible artists have done, and especially in a world of bland, boring superhero movies this is something to be treasured. Even if they let the story get a little out of control, I’ll take that exchange any day!
9 out of 10
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