By Bob Grimm
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the second chapter in a trilogy, builds upon the visual brilliance of the original’s animation—but suffers a bit from being an “in-betweener” movie.
It’s an incomplete film, which keeps it from being a complete masterpiece—but rest assured, fans of the 2018 original and newcomers alike will be blown away by its amazing technical achievements and kinetic story. Its cliffhanger ending might leave your jaw agape, but the good news is the closing chapter, Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, is due out next year, so the wait won’t be too long.
Much of the film, especially its first half, deals with Gwen Stacy (the voice of Hailee Steinfeld), her family issues and her jumping into other dimensions with different versions of Spider-Man, including Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac), Jessica Drew (Issa Rae) and many others. We even see a Lego Spider-Man, and we get glimpses of past live-action versions of Spider-Man. It’s all pretty complex.
Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) eventually becomes the focus of the film, as he deals with some of the family issues and isolation themes explored in the first film. When he eventually joins Gwen in a multi-verse trip into other dimensions, the stakes rise, leading up to a surprising and frustrating cliffhanger—just when things are really getting interesting.
The film is already 140 minutes long, so there was plenty of time to do a full story, but so goes the Marvel trilogy. You will indeed be left hanging until the next film—but you will most certainly be on board, because the story is very good.
As with the original, there isn’t a frame of this movie that doesn’t qualify as a visual spectacle of the highest degree. This is, hands down, some of the finest animation you will ever see. It’s a marvel that the writers and editors are able to compile it in a way that makes perfect sense, no matter how many times the mode of animation switches, sometimes within a few minutes. It’s an incredible technical achievement.
It is definitely a great film—but I can’t call it excellent until the story concludes. Final judgment is being withheld until then.