I’ll admit that I didn’t see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse until it hit the home video market, but when I did, I was hooked by the amazing and always changing animation, the awesome characters and their voice actors, and the cool story it put together. As with most fans, I was on pins and needles for the inevitable sequel, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which is a nice follow-up that sometimes stumbles on its pacing issues and long runtime.
Taking place a year after the events of the previous film, things kick off with Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) on Earth-65 doing her best to keep New York and her dad, Captain George Stacy (Shea Wigham) safe from crime and villains. It begins to take its toll on her as she doesn’t have anyone to talk to about balancing her life as Gwen and Spider-Woman, except for Miles that she misses terribly.
If that wasn’t enough to deal with, the multiverse begins to act up again and summons a weird version of the Vulture that Gwen tries to fight off before being interrupted by Spider-Man 2099 aka Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac), and an alternate, motorcycle-riding, pregnant Spider-Woman named Jessica Drew (Issa Rae).
After they all take down the vulture, Gwen manages to go back with Miguel and Jessica who protect the multiverse and “Spider-Verse” from their headquarters known as Spider-Society, a place where nearly every Spider person shows up and does their part to help their counterparts with keeping the Spider-Verse intact by making sure all of them don’t stray from or alter their tragic origins, least the Spider-Verse fall apart.
While all of that is happening, we once again enter the life of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) who is still doing his thing as Spider-Man while trying to keep his social and school life together. This is made even more difficult with the appearance of the Spot (Jason Schwartzman), a comically odd but dangerous enemy that was in the background of the first film, that’s out to get revenge on Miles for inadvertently turning him into this weird villain that can create various sized dimensional holes around him.
As Miles is doing his best to fight the Spot and web him up for the police to take away, it ends up summoning Gwen there thanks to a special wrist computer she has that Miguel and his Spider counterparts helped create. The two are more than happy to see each other again, and Miles wants to see the Spider-Society after Gwen mentions it as he begins to feels like he doesn’t fit in with his parents, school-life, and such anymore.
Once Miles gets into Spider-Society, he’s in awe with all of the Spider people there as well as the numerous villains that have tried to mess up the Spider-Verse by changing or altering their origins known as a “Canon Event”. Without spoiling anything, Miguel isn’t too happy to see Miles as somehow he destroyed a Canon Event and is causing the Spider-Verse to glitch out as in the previous film, except now it threatens to destroy everything.
So now Miles has to find a way back to his Earth so he can set things right while also having to deal with facing his parents and life problems, as well as the wacky Spot villain who has now grown even more powerful while Miles was away in Spider-Society. But that’s if he can escape Miguel and all of the Spider-Society chasing him down first.
I definitely don’t want to say anymore than that as big spoilers would come into play, but besides the first 30 minutes or so having some sluggish pacing issues, I had a good time with the movie. After finding out (along with the rest of the audience) that it ends on a cliffhanger, you can tell they dragged the film out to setup things for the next installment. It also doesn’t help when you have “too many cooks in the kitchen” as they say, with three directors: Joaquim Dos Santos (of DCAU fame), Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson most likely stepping on each others toes.
With this being the longest running animated movie ever made at 140 minutes, you can definitely feel it during those moments when things slow down a bit too much. But once you clear that hurdle, things get almost as good as the previous movie and even outdoes it in some parts as there’s plenty of alternate animation styles and frame rates, and even some live-action spliced in (two of them made me and the audience laugh and gasp which was nice).
Before I web-wrap this review up, I just want to say that I loved Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya), the British Spider variant, as he’s easily the most awesome thing about the movie, yet sadly underused here (I’m sure he’ll be back in the next film with more screen time hopefully). Everything from his super laid-back mannerisms, to his hilarious and heavy cockney-like accent and slang, to even his looks are just too cool. You know he’s awesome when he takes his mask off and Miles says “How do you look even cooler without your mask?”
While I wish the pacing could’ve been better at the beginning and at some parts throughout the film, I still had a good time with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse as it still retains most of what made the previous film great with its off-the-wall action, along with its characters and their complex lives and stories coming together. Now to wait for the next film, Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, slated to hit our universe next year.