June 30, 2023 culture

A story that will keep you webbed to the seat. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse review

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In 2018, a director duo Chris Miller and Phil Lord (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street), presented Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to the world.

It was a retelling of the classic: a New York City teenager, Miles Morales, gets bitten by a radioactive spider and is set to become the new Spider-Man, who will battle villains Kingpin and Dr Octavius, who aim at using other universes – hence the ‘multiverse’ – to “bring back” the family of Kingpin, who had died in the current dimension.

Here’s the twist: Miles is not the only Spider-Man. As the film story is deeply rooted in the multiverse concept, Miles soon teams up with a diverse group of ‘Spider-people’, including, amongst others Spider-Ham, a looney-tunes-inspired pig version, and a Noir detective Spider-Man from a monochromatic universe.

The film’s ground-breaking animation style and compelling story instantly won the acclaim of critics and the audience’s love. The only question was whether the sequel would live up to the hype of the original.

It took five years for the long-awaited sequel to be released. Recently released, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse follows Miles Morales roughly a year after the first film’s events.

This time, Spider-Man has to face the Spot, an evil scientist-turned-supervillain. To defeat the foe, Morales reunites with friends across the multiverse – not only the characters from the first film but also some new faces, including the Indian Spider-Man and Spider-Punk.

The good news is that the film does not disappoint. Quite the contrary: it takes everything fans loved about the first movie and turns it up a notch – if not more.

The premise of multiverse travel results in a colourful eye delight in which every new world the protagonists visit has a unique and distinct art style. The plot keeps one webbed to the seat as it evolves from the prologue’s dynamic mini-tragedy into a tense drama about purpose, limitations and consequences – yet the film’s comedic and dramatic moments all hit the right spots.

It is worth noting how Daniel Pemberton’s score is the heart of all the action sequences, making every single one worthy of a final-act battle.

Even though it launched from a difficult spot – it is the second part of a planned trilogy – Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse kept the animation’s soul, humour, and visual brilliance very much alive.

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Anatolii Mishustin

Film critic

Kyiv, Ukraine | Amsterdam, Netherlands

Hailing from Ukraine, Anatolii was born in 2006 and now resides in Amsterdam while getting his diploma. Moving to the Netherlands was a decision first and foremost motivated by the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Anatolii keeps his hand on the pulse of modern media and underground culture, that’s what grows his interests and ambitions each day. He joined Harbingers’ Magazine in 2023 to challenge himself in this area to explore cultural journalism, and quickly established himself as the lead film critic for the magazine.

His work also secured him an invitation to the first edition of the Harbinger Fellow programme with the Oxford School for the Future of Journalism.

In his free time, he enjoys basketball, watching films, and playing video games.

Anatolii speaks Ukrainian, Russian, English, and is learning Dutch.

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