#REVIEW: “SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE”
Review by Nicholas Porteous for Mr. Will Wong
Let’s get this out of the way: Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse is 140 minutes of glorious setup for 2024’s Spider-Man: Beyond The Spider-Verse. Glorious, yes–but setup, also yes! It’s an unfinished story, and in this humble reviewer’s opinion, even referring to the ending as a “cliffhanger” is generous. Well over 2 hours into the much anticipated sequel to 2018’s Into The Spider-Verse, we’ve arrived at the midpoint of the story. It’s not a secret that this follow-up was envisioned as a single movie, then divided into two parts, but any mention of ‘Part 1’ or the like has been non-existent beyond a press release over a year ago. It’s not easy to judge a story without knowing how it ends, and although I have boundless confidence that the second half will deliver, there’s always a possibility it won’t–retroactively dampening this instalment at the very least. If I had one criticism of the original CLASSIC, it would be that Into The Spider-Verse felt too dense for one film. By comparison, Across makes Into look more like a Saturday morning cartoon. Yet despite its extraordinary expanse of characters and concepts, the Film feels incomplete by its very nature. Having said that, the rest of this review will consist of (almost) nothing but ecstatic praise.
Across The Spider-Verse is a work of cinematic art. I hesitated to glance at my popcorn, certain I would miss another astonishing frame, or spectacular bit of action choreo, a surprise cameo, or another perfect quip. It is both relentlessly entertaining–the extended runtime absolutely flies by–and deeply affecting, as Miles Morales returns to battle infinite iterations of his own psyche just as Gwen Stacy grapples with some impossible interpersonal issues of her own. Oh, and obviously the fate of many universes hangs in the balance. The tone is all over the place, yet perfectly tuned, deftly swinging between unrequited romance, melancholic meditation, action comedy, existential comedy, comedy comedy, you name it! The new team of alternative web-slingers bring a lot to the table, though I prefer Spider-Verse 1‘s if I had to choose. The new arch-baddie is surprisingly deep (in more ways than one). And the thematic decision to focus on Spider vs. Spider rather than another ensemble of remixed villains gives this chapter its own distinct vibe, rather than feeling like a sequel that’s basically the same idea again with a fresh coat of paint.
I’m pretty sure I loved Across The Spider-Verse, but only 2024 will tell!
Sony Pictures Canada release SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE June 2, 2023.