Across the Spider-Verse: Animation is Cinema


Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is one of my favourite movies of all time and is my favourite animated movie of all time. Everything from its story, to the animation, the voice-acting and soundtrack, and I mean everything. Everything was done to such an immaculate degree, that it completely reshaped and paved the way for future animated movies. Since 2018, I’ve been waiting incredibly patiently for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Each new trailer, poster, leak, and rumour, all pointed towards a movie of a larger scale, with even more Spider-Men and more funky art styles – my hype was at an all-time high. So now that it has been released, was it worth the wait?

Yes, absolutely yes. It was worth the 5 years.

Just to get it out of the way and in no way do I mean to devalue it, but the animation, sound design and soundtrack is just godly. I legitimately don’t know how they did it, but they made the animation better, like MUCH better. The 2018 movie already looked gorgeous and still is, but Across the Spider-Verse just took what worked and kept expanding upon it. Obviously we got to see a lot of different Spider-Men and even so, the way they integrated each individual Spider-Men’s animation styles into the movie is just so seamless and natural. Not once do you see something and go, “Oh, that looks weird.” Everything blended together into this harmonious and cohesive painting, and I use painting because each frame of this movie can be hung in the Louvre. The colours just burst out of the screen, and it gave so much life to the movie. Seriously, the movie was just criminally beautiful.

Though I don’t have much to talk about in regard to the sound design and soundtrack, I think it is still worth a mention. From Spider-Man 2099’s little jingle that plays whenever he’s on screen, to the Thwip! of their webbing, the fantastic score written by Daniel Pemberton and the soundtrack from Metro Boomin. It just worked so well.

This is a spoiler-free review so I won’t mention any important plot details, but it’s just downright amazing. There is not much else to it really, it somehow managed to juggle all of these different interconnecting, individual plotlines and webbed em up into this massively grand story with Miles at the centre. Never once was it difficult to follow the story and almost every single piece of dialogue spoken will matter somewhere later in the movie. It is just the pinnacle of story and character writing if I’ve ever seen it. The way the writers weave each individual character’s conflicts, motivations and goals together whilst presenting it in a way that doesn’t feel shoehorned in, is nothing short of a masterclass.

The movie really lived up to its grander scale, by showing us all these different Spider-Men’s, their lives, the people they love and what it means to be Spider-Man for them. But even though there are a butt load of different Spider-Men, the movie still focuses on Miles and to my surprise, Gwen.

Gwen gets a much bigger role in this movie than I initially expected, and I really enjoyed it. She has a lot more to do and received a lot of love and development in this movie, so much so that it almost felt more like a Spider-Gwen movie than a Miles movie. But that is not to say that Miles is worse off in any way, he still gets the majority of the runtime and his story about subverting expectations and being yourself is just as inspirational as it was in Into the Spider-Verse. I really can’t say much about the villains of the movie because I would have to talk about the plot in much greater detail, but The Spot is so funny and is such a great villain. Which is the same for Miguel O’Hara (Spider-Man 2099), his reasons for hunting down Miles is, while unempathetic, incredibly reasonable.

Before I end this review, there is one more thing that I need to talk about, and it is the one thing that I think is missing from a lot of superhero movies – which is tension. The method Across the Spider-Verse employs to create tension in its action sequences is so clever yet so simple that it truly baffles my mind how most superhero movies miss this one crucial element, and that is saving civilians. As the audience, we know subconsciously that our main characters aren’t going to die anytime soon. So instead, the movie puts their loved ones in danger! Which sounds horrible, but as a writing technique? I absolutely adore it. Simply because the tension created is so natural, and it gives meaning to their actions because it reminds the audience that these guys are superheroes! They are supposed to save people, especially Spider-Man, who’s whole identity and character revolves around the death of a loved one. It is such a simple technique yet so many movies fail to figure it out, but Across the Spider-Verse utilises it so effectively.

I will actually get really mad if Across the Spider-Verse doesn’t get an Oscar Nomination for Best Picture, and I mean Best PICTURE, not Best Animated Feature. I truly believe that Across the Spider-Verse is one of the best movies of all time, whilst being a celebration of culture, movies, comic-books, art and especially, animation.

To quote Guillermo del Toro, “Animation is cinema, animation is not a genre.”

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