REVIEW: ‘Across the Spider-Verse’ is the movie of the year – Daily Trojan Online

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” was the best movie of 2018, and maybe the best movie of the decade. Why not call it the best movie ever? It’s daring, ambitious, beautiful, heartfelt, funny and practically perfect in every way. 
Making a sequel to perfection is a dangerous task. There’s a legacy to be ruined with a sequel. Yet, Sony chose to take on the challenge. 
Thankfully, with “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” directors Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson and the entire crew created a more-than-worthy successor to the Academy Award-winning precursor. 
Most importantly, “Across the Spider-Verse” is an absolute visual feast. “Into the Spider-Verse” was groundbreaking in its combination of modern computer animation with hand-drawn art. The animators brought comic books to life and combined worlds into one captivating extravaganza.  
Seeing black-and-white Spider-Man Noir, anime-style Peni Parker and cartoon-like talking-pig Peter Porker all next to each other created a spectacle like no other. Each frame was a work of art, deserving a place in the finest art museums.  
Somehow, the sequel is even more beautiful. The animators were even more ambitious this time around, throwing in even more art styles — even incorporating a delightful Lego animation scene. 
While even the worst script would seem like a masterpiece when paired with the brilliant art of the Spider-Verse, “Across the Spider-Verse” does not disappoint story-wise.  
“Across the Spider-Verse” returns the audience to the life of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) a year after he and his fellow Spider-People saved the multiverse from total annihilation. Throughout the 2018 film, Miles is mentored by a Peter Parker who is down in the dumps (Jake Johnson) and grows close to a young Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) once they are all thrown into Miles’ dimension. 
At the end of the movie, they are separated. “Across the Spider-Verse” brings them back together, albeit, not for the best reasons. 
Gwen especially gets her shining moment in the 140-minute screen time. The movie even starts in Gwen’s dimension rather than Miles.’ The viewer learns more about Gwen in five minutes than in the entire last film, and she deserves it. 
However, it’s good that the movie eventually transitions to focus on Miles, who truly makes the movie what it is. The other Spider-People are entertaining and some, like Gwen, deserve a substantive storyline, but Miles is the heart of the film. The 15-year-old is suffering normal high school woes while harboring possibly the biggest secret of all time and feeling isolated from his Spider-Friends who are dimensions away. 
What he doesn’t know is that all of his friends are a part of an elite team of Spider-People working to preserve the “canon” and stop inter-dimensional fractures. 
Plus, there is a new villain on the rise. Spot (Jason Schwartzman) is a scientist who worked on the particle collider in “Into the Spider-Verse.” Spot found his life ruined by the destruction of the collider, which the Spider-People brought about by saving the world. His body was left almost completely blank, aside from some intangible spots which he later finds out allows him to travel across dimensions. 
However, Spot is pretty much missing in action after a few initial fights. While this is disappointing, as the fight scenes with Spot are some of the most exciting in the film, it makes space for an even scarier villain: Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac), the Spider-Man in charge of the league and preserving the canon. 
Miguel is a worthy opponent who is able to be both understood and hated. It’s his work that provides most of the substance — and heartbreak — for the film. 
The new league of Spider-People brought with it some absolutely top-notch additions to the big screen. From the charismatic Pavitr Prabhakar (Karan Soni) — the Spider-Man of Mumbattan —, the hilariously broody Ben Reilly (Andy Samberg) — the Scarlet Spider — and, most importantly, Peter Parkedcar — a car who is also a Spider-Being.
While John Mulaney’s Spider-Ham stole every scene in “Into the Spider-Verse,” “Across the Spider-Verse” sees Spider-Punk — played by the ineffable Daniel Kaluuya — as the highlight in a movie that already feels good enough to be a highlight reel. 
Spider-Punk is a British activist and punk-rocker who doesn’t play by the rules of Spider-League. Effortlessly cool and quick-witted, Spider-Punk does what he wants and steals the audience’s heart along the way. He also brings in the best animation of the entire film. Reminiscent of the U.K. ‘70s punk scene, Spider-Punk takes over the screen with what look like paper cutouts and Sex Pistols-like lettering. The magazine-clipping guitar always strapped to his back ties the package together perfectly. 
In its two hours and 20 minutes, the movie is able to establish new relationships, give multiple characters their chance in the spotlight and set up an absolutely epic battlefield for the third film (because, yes, the story will be told over two movies). The next film, “Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse,” is set to be released next year. 
While realizing that “Across the Spider-Verse” is a two-parter was initially soul-crushing, the creators’ decision to split the story in half is absolutely justifiable. Even if “Across the Spider-Verse” lacked some action at parts, it was never a bore. Every moment added value. 
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is another flawless addition to the canon by Sony. Well, flawless besides the fact that having to wait more than 10 months to see what happens next is an absolutely criminal offense. 
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