Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023)
Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson
Starring the voice talents of Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Issac and Jake Johnson
By now, we, the public at large, know that Marvel’s 2018 animated feature Into the Spiderverse changed animation forever. I have been championing the film’s greatness for more than five years now. How could any sequel live up to the Oscar winning original?
One way to make sure 2023’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse had a chance to hold its own against its predecessor was to push the form and style of the animation even further, and this next chapter in the life of Miles Morales (voiced again perfectly by Shameik Moore) does just that. Each scene, setting and movement offers the viewer a different version of a beautiful and captivating animated universe, from the soft pastels of the world the film opens on, to the hard lines of the world we know from the original, to breathtaking visual anomalies from across the Spider-Verse. The juxtaposition of these “universes” is so stylized and unique that the film sustains a sense of wonderment throughout its entire run time.
Clocking in at 23 minutes longer than the original, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse never feels bloated or contrived. On top of the visual wonderment it offers, it has a lot to say about coming-of-age and espousing individuality as one’s greatest asset. The parallel lives of budding superheroes Miles and Spider Gwen (voiced with effervescent angst by Hailee Steinfeld) showcase the things that make us truly human. Can we escape the events that make us who we are? Are the painful things we endure the things that teach us how to be our best selves?
The voice talent cast for Across the Spider-Verse is excellent as well. Each cast member embodies the voice of their larger-than-life character in a way that made me forget they were real people standing at a mic inside of a sound studio. Oscar Isaac IS Miguel O’Hara, not that one guy from Star Wars and Moonknight, and Jake Johnson IS Peter B. Parker, not that funny guy from that sitcom with Zoe Dachenel.
This richness of character served in making the visuals seem even more amazing. My brain had a difficult time keeping up with what was unfolding on the screen when my wife and I saw the film on opening night in a Dolby Theatre. Was I supposed to focus on every four frames of the Daniel Kaluuya voiced Spider-Punk as he shifted form? Or listen to his Cockney wisdom? It was almost impossible to do both, which is why myself and people like me will see this film over and over again in the theater, or at the very least watch YouTube videos dissecting this rich, bombastic animated world created by the great Lord and Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street).
Optimum Immersion is important, but unavoidable hype is sometimes a good thing too. Hopefully, the buzz around this film will serve as a catalyst to get you out to the theater to see the most visually stunning animated film you have ever seen.
Your time is running out, so trust me. FIND THE BIGGEST, LOUDEST and DARKEST THEATER YOU CAN and immerse yourself in the Spider-Verse while this film is still in theatres.