‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ movie review: This multiversal experience is an action-packed visual extravaganza

A giddying swing through a dizzying array of animation styles, this sequel to ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ is an epic joy-ride on the space-time continuum

June 01, 2023 05:44 pm | Updated 07:57 pm IST

A still from ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’

A still from ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ | Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Animation

Time is indeed relative — there are movies and shows that seem to go on forever, and others that go by in a flash. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse belongs to the latter category as the 140-minute running time zips by in Mumbattan minute.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (English)
Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
Cast: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Vélez, Jake Johnson, Jason Schwartzman, Issa Rae, Karan Soni, Daniel Kaluuya, Oscar Isaac
Runtime: 140 minutes
Storyline: Continuing the adventures of Miles Morales, the Spider-Society, a crack team of different versions of Spider-Man, try to mend tears in time and space in the multi-verses

The multi-hued worlds inhabited by the different versions of Spider-Man are a veritable treat to the eye as is the background score (Daniel Pemberton). There is so much of excellent stuff happening on the screen, it is difficult to focus on one aspect. Should one look at the stunning animation (a merry mash of 2D, 3D and comic book styles), tap feet to the infectious rhythms, or giggle at the throwaway lines — how much I laughed at Dark Garfield!

It is a year after the events of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), and Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) is Spider-Woman in her universe and a drummer in a rock band. Her father, George (Shea Whigham), is a police captain hunting Spider-Woman unaware that she is his daughter. When the Vulture (Jorma Taccone) from the Renaissance attacks the Guggenheim (what a stunning sequence that was!), Gwen realises the supervillain has come from a different universe thanks to a tear in the fabric of space-time.

A still from ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’

A still from ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ | Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Animation

She meets the Spider-Society, a team of Spider-People upholding the sanctity of the multi-verse by getting rid of wrinkles and anomalies. The Spider-People are led by Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac), the only Spider-Man without a sense of humour, and his alter ego is Miguel O’Hara, a ninja vampire. The society also has Jessica (Issa Rae), a heavily pregnant Spider-Woman who rides a mean motorcycle.

While all this is happening in Gwen’s universe, there is The Spot (Jason Schwartzman), a former scientist whose skin, after an accident, has dots that are portals into other universes. Unable to get a proper job, The Spot turns to a life of crime, only he is not very good at it — witness his trying to rob an ATM.

And, what of our hero, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore)? He is running late as usual to meet his guidance counsellor with his parents and then he has to get cakes for the big party for his dad Jefferson’s (Brian Tyree Henry) promotion. His mum, Rio (Luna Lauren Vélez), like his dad, tries to understand what’s up with Miles but is reaching the end of her tether. Into this maelstrom enters Gwen and when Miles hears of the Spider-Society, he wants to help. The question is would he be a hindrance or help in the larger scheme of things? Would saving one life irrevocably change the fabric of space-time resulting in the destruction of millions?

As the action hurtles from universe to universe, different animation styles reflect each one — from the Impressionistic palette for Gwen’s universe to vivid hues for Pavitr Prabhakar’s (Karan Soni) Mumbattan. Incidentally, what was that humungous hoarding for that restaurant aggregator and food delivery company (which rhymes with tomato) doing in Mumbattan? In all the web-slinging and building-swinging, Pavitr sets the record straight on chai tea and naan bread. Yeah.

A still from ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’

A still from ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ | Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Animation

Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) now has a sweet little baby girl called Mayday, and Hobie (Daniel Kaluuya) is the coolest British punk rocker Spider-Man. Ending in a cliffhanger, we will have to wait for March 29, 2024, and Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse for the resolution. Till then, we can drench in this Technicolor raincoat across space and time.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is currently running in theatres

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