Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Review: A spectacular sequel surpasses the original

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Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy return in a spectacular coming-of-age adventure that will make your spider-sense tingle. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the rare sequel that improves on the Oscar-winning original in every way. Our brave heroes find fellowship on the web, but learn that troubles on the home front are not easily left behind. A dazzling mix of CGI and 2D animation accompanies a rocking soundtrack and a heartfelt script filled with great humor. The movie is long but it covers a lot of ground creatively.


Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) bangs on her drum kit in anger and frustration. She has problems that her bandmates could never understand. Captain George Stacy (Shea Whigham) is hell-bent on capturing the assassin Spider-Woman. He would be devastated if he knew her secret identity. How can he tell her the truth? Gwen misses the only person she really understands. Her troubles are interrupted by a strange villain from another universe.

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In his reality, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) can’t stop thinking about Gwen. She would be impressed by her amazing new outfit and her enhanced crime-fighting skills. A lot has changed in the last year. Spider-Man has made Brooklyn a better place, but juggling bad guys and going to school isn’t easy. He’s already late for a parent-teacher conference when duty calls.


an unexpected visitor

Spider-Man 2099 in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Sony Pictures release

The Spot (Jason Schwartzman) seethes with fury. Spider-Man ruined his life and must pay for his transgressions. He is further enraged when Spider-Man mocks his portal powers. Meanwhile, Rio (Luna Lauren Velez) and Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry) are anxiously waiting in the counselor’s office for their son. Where could Miles be? Spider-Man’s fight with the wronged Spot receives an unexpected visitor. Miles is delighted to see Gwen. How did he travel to his universe? Gwen feels the same way but she can’t tell Miles about her true mission.

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Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse spreads the narrative richness. Gwen and Miles have the same concerns from different points of view. They are both alone and looking to belong to a higher cause, but they have radically different home lives. Gwen’s broken relationship with her father hurts deeply. Miles has loving and understanding parents. They have given everything to see him succeed and are truly disappointed by his aloof demeanor. Miles knows his secret keeps them safe from deadly enemies. He and Gwen are under no illusions about the risks. Comfort can be found in each other. But the connection between Gwen and Spider-Man always seems to end in tragedy.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse pushes the limits of animated art. Characters interact against dynamic backgrounds. The color palette changes as moods rise or sour. There are also comic bubbles that appear in the frame to expand on key details. This is brilliantly done to comic effect. A scene with Gwen and Miles sitting upside down under the ledge of a building is impressive. Every inch of the screen radiates vibrant energy.

A focus on diversity

There is a clear focus on diversity and the promotion of multiculturalism. Miles’ Puerto Rican heritage permeates throughout. He is an urban teenager who speaks Spanish and eats tasty plantains. The Spider-Society ensemble includes Indian Pavitr Prabhakar (Karan Soni), afro-wearing pregnant Jessica Drew (Issa Rae) and futurist Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac), to name just a few. This approach may annoy some, but it shouldn’t. Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man reflects all walks of life.

Avoid spoilers. There are quite a few surprises here. Well worth the price for a premium theater experience. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse it is wonderful to behold. Stick around for a mid-credits scene.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation and Marvel Entertainment production. It will have a theatrical release on June 2 from Sony Pictures.

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