The reviews embargo has lifted for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – and we could be in for a superhero sequel that surpasses the spectacular original. Released in 2018, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse galvanised the comic book genre via its savvy storytelling and gorgeous animation, all anchored to a poignant deconstruction of the Spider-Man character.
Given that the original film, overseen by LEGO Movie creatives Phil Lord and Chris Miller, won an Oscar, it might be hard to imagine how the sequel can top it. Nevertheless, reviewers have praised the ongoing journey of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) as a funny, emotional and unpredictable journey that is packed with a breathtaking amount of visual artistry.
Across the Spider-Verse (the first of an ambitious two-parter set to conclude with 2024's Beyond the Spider-Verse) takes new Brooklyn Spider-Man incumbent Miles into the multi-verse itself where he's greeted by the Spider Society. This secretive club is comprised of many classic Spidey characters from across comic book lore including Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac), Spider-Woman (Issa Rae) and Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya).
Miles, however, disagrees with the plan of action taken to defeat The Spot (Jason Schwartzman), a villain whose body is peppered with physics-defying holes that connect to the multiverse. Soon, the entirety of the multiverse goes into freefall as Miles and Spider-Man 2099 find themselves at dangerous loggerheads.
So, what about those reviews? Here's a handful that ought to get you very excited indeed about Miles' latest adventure.
It's a visual feast
"The images in “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” have an intoxicating unpredictability," writes Owen Gleiberman for Variety. "The film makes you feel like you’re dropping through the floors of a modern art museum on acid, yet there’s a thrilling moment-to-moment logic to it all.
"The madly eclectic images express something — an eyeball-tickling explosion of quantum physics, or a subliminal nod to some comic-book style from decades ago that’s so retro it’s new, not to mention bedazzling. This feels like it could have been the first movie designed to earn a thumbs up from Andy Warhol and Stephen Hawking."
It's even better than the original
"Into the Spider-Verse is a modern-day classic, and yet, Across the Spider-Verse somehow manages to equal—if not improve—upon this incredible world," raves Ross Bonaime for Collider. "With even more striking animation, a more powerful connection to its characters and their relationships, it is one of the most engaging, exciting, and jaw-dropping films to come out in years.
"By the end of Across the Spider-Verse, the question of who is the best cinematic Spider-Man has been answered: it’s Miles Morales. But not only that, this very well might be the best superhero movie series so far.
It's got an almost musical energy to it
Empire's Ben Travis lauds the movie with a five-star review, stating: "Make no mistake, Across The Spider-Verse is masterful. It’s pop art that doesn’t just pop — it hums, fizzes and bangs; art that doesn’t just exist for the sake of being regarded, but uses everything at its disposal to make you feel deeply.
"It’s a blockbuster drum solo — literally, at one point — dazzling on so many levels while never losing the beat; a paean to what’s possible when rewriting the rules. It’s as good as sequels get — challenging its own mythology, questioning the notion that “anyone can wear the mask”, and interrogating the tenets of what makes a Spider-Man. If Beyond The Spider-Verse sticks the landing, we could be in for a new all-time-great trilogy. What’s up, danger?"
It sets a new standard for comic book movies
"Into the Spider-Verse was astute and funny, complicated and emotional, unique and daring, and its sequel only grows and expands on those aims," writes Indiewire's Kate Erbland. "If the first film showed what superhero movies could be, Across the Spider-Verse goes even further: It shows what they should be.
"In a genre built on the literally super and special, these films are unafraid to stand out and do something truly different, something that pushes the limits, to show the genuine range available to this subset of stories and feel damn good in the process (and look, dare we say, even better)."
It makes us rethink the entire Spider-Man ethos
States Charles Pulliam-Moore for The Verge: "Across the Spider-Verse takes a much more pointed, meta approach with its commentary about Miles and, in doing so, encourages you to think very critically but meaningfully about who Miles represents and what it means when people dismiss the very simple fact that he is Spider-Man.
"Across the Spider-Verse is a bigger, bolder, and more ambitious project than its predecessor in almost every way — so much so that its entire story doesn’t at all fit into a single movie with an especially satisfying ending.
"Across the Spider-Verse leaves little question that Sony’s forthcoming follow-up, Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, is going to bring this whole thing home and solidify the studio’s status as being the architect of one of Hollywood’s most successful takes on the multiverse. But Into the Spider-Verse also lands on a cliffhanger so delicious that waiting for the next sequel to drop next year’s going to be absolute hell."
How's that for motivation? Click the link below to secure your Spider-Man tickets. The movie opens at Cineworld on June 1st.