Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse


Only a few moments into Across the Spider-Verse’s two-hour-and-20-minute runtime, we can begin to understand why this sequel to 2018’s Oscar-winning Into the Spider-Verse took almost five years to arrive. Dramatically bold and visually (and sonically) fearless, the movie is exhausting in the best possible sense, inviting the audience along on a mind-boggling adventure and daring us to keep up.

Let’s assume you’ve seen the first film — although we’re given smartly encapsulated backstories when needed — and now Brooklyn’s arachno-teen Miles Morales is growing into his superpowers, which prove useful against a deceptively dangerous new nemesis with the ability to open portals between universes. This threat attracts the attention of a vast Spider-Society, staffed by web-slingers of every description and headed by the darkly formidable Miguel O’Hara. Rather than recruit Miles, they want to hold him back because an impending loss will prove essential and must be allowed to play out, lest cataclysms ensue.

Ally Gwen Stacy has been promoted from supporting character to co-lead this time, facing demons of her own on the way to some shocking twists of fate. Across the Spider-Verse is what we get when some of the best talents in the business take their imaginations off the leash, giving us lightning-paced heroics densely packed with layers of detail I haven’t even fully processed yet, and I’ve already seen it twice.

The next-level colors are perhaps the most striking aspect of the 2.39:1 image, keenly balanced to alternately dazzle and draw the eye precisely where the filmmakers want it to go. The upscaled 4K picture showcases a range of art styles as we jump from reality to reality, the tiny Ben-Day dots revealing themselves the closer we look. Out-of-focus midground and background elements remain vital to the Spider-Verse’s distinctive visual bag of tricks.

Dolby Vision HDR proffers a welcome boost both to the colors and the shading, with bright highlights evident in wisps of luminous energy and in the glowing skies above New York City. Worth noting, small text pop-ups can appear briefly at seemingly random points in the narrative, serving up educational and amusing spider-tidbits, so we might want to keep the remote control handy for the occasional freeze-frame.

Not to be a home theater snob, but Dolby Atmos seems like an outright necessity for a movie of such magnitude, rendering a world where anything can happen anytime, coming at us from anywhere. Plenty of expansive, hectic moments of fights and crowds and people swinging over our heads comprise this 360-degree track, but there are some tiny, pay-attention-or-we’ll-miss-out cues, too. The music is a harmonious blend of Daniel Pemberton’s fiercely original score and thoughtfully chosen songs, rising and falling within the mix to impart a genuine soul to the story. Worth noting, the 4K disc defaults to the Atmos/7.1 track whereas the included HD Blu-ray maxes out at DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.

The sole extra on the Ultra HD platter is a boisterous audio commentary from all three directors joined by writer-producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Over on the Blu-ray we find a lengthy deleted scene presented in crude, unfinished form alongside a pair of Metro Boomin music videos. The multiple featurettes — the longest of which runs under 15 minutes — can only scratch the surface of the countless Easter eggs and insider homages on display, even when taken in tandem with the filmmaker commentary.

Like I said: Freeze-framing on subsequent viewings could prove quite rewarding. A unique printed code for a Movies Anywhere digital copy is also supplied, unlocking all of the bonus content, except the commentary. A master class in 21st century animation, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a thrilling trip through the multiverse with new and old friends, while also whetting our appetite for the upcoming final installment in the Miles Morales trilogy, Beyond the Spider-Verse. We’d better rest up.

STUDIO: Sony, 2023
HDR FORMAT: Dolby Vision, HDR10
AUDIO FORMAT: Dolby Atmos with TrueHD 7.1 core
LENGTH: 140 mins., PG
DIRECTOR: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
STARRING: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Isaac, Luna Lauren Velez, Brian Tyree Henry, Jason Schwartzman

Danniee's picture

Dolby Vision HDR gives both the colors and the shading a welcome boost, with dazzling highlights visible in a pumpkinpanic luminous energy wisps and the glistening skies over New York City. It's worth noting that little text pop-ups that offer interesting and entertaining spider-tidbits can emerge at seemingly random periods in the story, so we might want to keep the remote in our possession for the odd freeze-frame.

NellyAurora's picture

The film's content cannot be disputed. I liked the music heardle 80s, lots of the expansive, exciting moments of the battles. I so love it.

rocada9368's picture

This is a must-see, and even after multiple viewings, there are still layers of detail to uncover and appreciate. - Bridgeport Drywall Contractors

Janwil's picture

Interesting one! I'm excited to watch this. NOVA Concreters concreters