REVIEW: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
As I tell my students, choices have consequences. Brilliantly, several choices made by Mikles Morales and his friends come back to bite them in the ass in the wonderful, if bloated, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Out now from Sony Home Entertainment, the 2:20 film is merely part one of a more sprawling saga that is entirely built around Miles (Shameik Moore) making a decision in the previous film that has multiversal implications.
In fact, his repercussions have such omniversal impact that Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac) has formed the Spider-Society with its core members traversing the multiverse to repair the damage (with a wonderful throwaway line about Doctor Strange).
Miles is blissfully unaware of this until another of his actions appears in the form of a new foe, the Spot (Jason Schwartzman), who is seen mastering his powers with growing confidence until he makes a mistake and enters himself and, therefore, the multiverse.
We see not only Miles’ anguish for the above events but also for keeping his secret from his loving parents, Jeff (Brian Tyree Henry) and Rio (Luna Lauren Velez), and his seeming estrangement from his crush Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld). When he finds himself in Pavitr Prabhakar (Karan Soni)/Spider-Man India’s reality, he saves Pavitr’s father, Police Inspector Singh, which is considered a canon event. Each Spider-Man, we’re told, must suffer such losses; it’s their curse. To preserve that, Spidey 2099 has decided that Miles is the original anomaly that needs to be contained permanently, which would also mean Lt. Morales was destined to die in two days.
There are many wonderful emotional scenes between Miles and his parents or with Gwen or with the elder Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) that give the film greater depth than you would imagine.
Visually, it’s a stunning accomplishment, growing from the previous Into the Spider-Verse with visual styles that match each world and its inhabitants. Live-action footage is nicely woven in just enough to feel organic.
Throughout the film, there are wonderful homages to the comics that spawned so many of these iterations, along with elements from the animated television series and feature films. It’s an Easter Egg hunter’s smorgasbord.
My problem is that many of the sequences are overly long, extending the action and cutting the dramatic tension. The film could have lost 20 minutes and been tighter and more satisfying. Stil, kudos to writers Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Dave Callaham, along with the directorial trio of Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson.
The film was reviewed via streaming, and the 2180p high definition looks wonderful. The sound mixing issues that plagued the early theatrical release are absent here, with a fine Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio track that sounds strong on home equipment.
There is a plentiful assortment of special features including an audio commentary (not available for streaming; Creating the Ultimate Spider-Man Movie (14:49); Obscure Spiders Easter Eggs (5:39); “Imma do my own Thing” Interdimensional Destiny (8:26); Across the Worlds: Designing New Dimensions (7:00); Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Cast (13:00); Designing Spiders and Spots (12:00); Raising a Hero (8:00); Scratches, Score and the Music of the Multiverse (5:00); Across the Comic-Verse (8:00); Escape from Spider-Society (8:00); Miguel Calling (5:00); Lyric Videos.