Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse (2023) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

Spiderman: Across the Spiderverse ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½ – Review by Andrea Carnevali

Miles Morales catapults across the Multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its very existence. When the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles must redefine what it means to be a hero. Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse is out in cinemas now.

I remember watching the first Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse back in 2018 on a preview screening, knowing nothing about it. The film seemed to have come out of nowhere, but it instantly blew me away and eventually became my favourite film of that year.

It was fresh, clever, original and ground-breaking, with its unique and innovative style, which blended traditional hand-drawn animation, with computer-generated imagery. It created a dynamic, vibrant and beautiful world that felt like a comic book come to life in the best possible way.

But it was also emotionally charged, moving and funny at the same time, tackling themes of identity, family, and responsibility and that anyone could be a hero, in a way that was both relatable and inspiring.

The film was a success with both critics and audiences alike and set the bar pretty high for superhero films in general (too high it seems looking at many other superhero films) and eventually it won the Oscar for best animated film that year (and very deservedly too!)

Across the Spiderverse, the first of two promised sequels (part three is due to come out next March) had a lot to live up to.

I went to see it tonight with my wife and son and each came out with a slightly different view, but we all agree that it felt a little bit like “Spider-man on acid” (though my 10 year old so didn’t quite express it like that).

The film does move at light speed (too fast for some, I’m sure) jam-packed with so many details, stories, information, visuals, music, emotions, that you might need a couple of viewings to take it all in.

Both my wife and my son got a bit lost towards the end and needed a guiding hand to help them through the labyrinthine, head-spinning plot. In their defence, it had been a long day and it finished quite late at night (the film clocks at around two hours and 20 minutes, maybe a tad too long).

Having said all that, I was pleased to see that everything which made the first one a success was present here too, though of course, this being a sequel, somehow it didn’t feel as fresh as the original.

One thing is certain: it is a feast for the eyes, with barely a frame that would not be worth hanging on a wall.

The animation is just as good as the first one and at times even more imaginative.

The concept of multiverse felt so new when the first film was released, but in the last five years it seems to have spiralled out of proportion, diluted by all those other (not so good) Marvel films, last year’s Oscar winning Everything Everywhere All At Once (which shares some of its madness with this one) and even in an episode of Riverdale. But here the overall scope and the detail of the drawings make each world seem limitless, reviving not just the concept of multiverse, but also reminding us all why it is that some films should stick to animation instead of trying to make everything look real and actually diminishing the effect (I’m talking to you Disney and your mermaids!).

But this isn’t just another movie about the parallel universes, or another Spider-Man or even another superhero adventure, this is actually an ambitious film with more energy, imagination and ideas than any of the latest superhero films from the last few years. For that alone, it should receive high praise.

It is at times a bit too chaotic and, however much I loved most of it, I did find that few of the action sequences went on for too long and felt too frenetic.

I remember feeling the same about the ending of the first film, but this sequel seems to want to go a few steps beyond, having raving-mad kinetic sequences popping up all the way through. But then again, it may have something to do with my age, so that’s probably a warning of caution for those above 50s.

However, when it does slow down and allows the emotions to shine and to guide you through the story, it is as magic as movies can get and works beautifully.

The way Miles interacts with his family, the nuances in their conversations, the body language when talking to the girl he’s in love with, even the attention to detail in the way his bedroom looks is not just high-level stuff for an animated movie, but for any movie in general.

I know I am going to watch it again and again, maybe even pausing at times to take a breath (possibly rest my eyes and my ears) and enjoy the gorgeous visuals.

I cannot wait for March next year to see how it’s all going to end.

Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse is out in cinemas now.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick, and a co-creator of the Chiswick In Film festival.