I know I’m supposed to love this “SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE UNIVERSE” and be drooling all over this film directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson, because everyone is, as well as hailing it as the greatest movie ever. Now those, as we like to joke are, ‘fightin words’ and something that just cannot be uttered by me – not for this film at least. And yes, I know I will probably get crucified for not agreeing. But then again, following and loving something just because the crowd does, has never really been my forte’. As well, I’ve always been pretty good in standing my ground and here will be doing just that and also noting that it’s okay to have differing opinions. It keeps things like movies interesting.
Now first off, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Across the Spider-Verse way more than I thought I would, but I mean who knew there were so many Spidermen besides Tobey Maguire Andrew Garfield & Tom Holland. Well I just found all this out in Spider-Man:Across The Spider Verse that there are a vast amount of them – and it took over two hours to do so. That I was not ready for and my initial question was why? And then I answered it myself by noting “this is what comic books are” a fantasy world, in this case, universes – then it also became clear that that is literally the point of showing all those comic book stills inbetween. So while I still had that unsatisfied feeling when I realized I was watching the first half of a really long movie, I feel like I understand it a lot more after thinking about it. Doesn’t mean it’s in my wheelhouse, but sometimes, getting out of said wheelhouse is what needs to be done.
Having not seen the first one, I picked up pretty quickly what was happening in this new web-slinging, multiverse-traveling adventure. It clearly takes place a year or so after the events of the first one – ‘Into the Spider-Verse’; and sees Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) back. Having been Spider-Man for about a year now after being bit by a mutant spider, his parents still have no idea, even though his father, Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry), is a cop who frequently works with “Spider-Man” to stop other villians with super powers. He is once again teaming up with Spider-Girl Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), trying to fix something he clearly thought had been fixed before that wasn’t fixed properly. Included in all this is a whole lotta other Spider-People of this multiverse (that I’m trying to piece together and understand), for a big high stakes mission. This time around, the Spider-People face off against villian The Spot (Jason Schwartzman), whose powers threaten the stability of the entire this Spidey multiverse as he is able to move through spots he creates from one place to another, very quickly and simply. Issues are amplified when Miles and the Spider-People, led by Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac), disagree on how to best deal with this new threat.
A lot of this moves at a pace that is zip-flash fast so keeping up is key. The parts that probably worked the best for me as a first time viewer were the family ones. One of the most effect scenes on an emotional level is Miles’ relationship with his mother Rio Morales (Luna Lauren Velez), as he wrestles personally with the idea of revealing his superhero Spidey-alter ego to his parents, a decision that creates great conflict within his family. Watching Miles’ struggle to come out as Spider-Man in a particularly moving scene with his mother that is so heartbreaking and is bound to resonate with many who have struggled to reveal things of themselves to others, whatever it may be. Meanwhile, Steinfeld’s Gwen Stacy also has some intense family matters lll for her character, especially as it pertains to her relationship with her father Captain Stacy (Shea Whigham), regarding her suposed murder and loss of her Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), (whose animated character looks surprisingly a lot like Jake Gyllenhaal). Intially thinking Gwen was a lead character and the films focus would be on this, as she has a pretty extended opening focusing on solely on just her, but then with it doing a round-about and not going that direction was confusing at times, but as they say ‘All’s well that ends well”.
The animation is incredible, especially during a long intro scene in a different universe, along with the action and soundtrack. There are so many different styles and techniques. Some again, took time of afterwards for processing if you don’t know the stories, to digest and make logic of. As well, some of the dialogue gets to be a bit too corny and tries to hard to be quirky and fast-talking, which seems to be a Marvel staple now. My other issue is that the story felt a little messy and all over the place, and there were moments that felt weren’t really necessary to the plot of the movie itself. That plus the fact it was almost two and a half hours, which was a longer than it needed to be, only then to realize at the end it’s only essentially half of a movie. So now we’ll have to wait an see how the second part pulls it all together or the five parts which are sure to follow that one. Which leads me into my “Think about your favorite movies”; now imagine that when you saw them for the first time, someone cut it off halfway through and made you wait a year for the rest. A truly great movie needs to be able to stand on its own. Also, no post credits so no need to stay after this two hour plus run time.
So for those in the back who feel differently, I am saying that it was a good movie, but it wasn’t the greatest one and to call it that just seems so out of place for me. I did have a good time watching it and it’s by no means a bad movie, just not the “Masterpiece” everyone is building it up to be and is certainly not, “The Greatest Animated Movie Of All Time”. I think you have to be a BIG DC Universe fan or comic book one to understand why alot of it is happening to be sure. A lot of it just didn’t resonate to me and the windup into it started to really drag in the middle, all to just to get to a point where they basically said “see ya next time”.
And yeah, I will go see the next one in two years – hope you will too as who knows, maybe it will be the one to reveal all.
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“SPIDER-MAN:ACROSS THE UNIVERSE” FROM SONY PICTURES IS OUT IN THEATERS FRIDAY, JUNE 2, 2023
Review Screening: Tuesday, May 30, 2023 ~ Courtesy of Sony Pictures