Saturday, July 1, 2023

Diva's Movie Review - Spider-man: Across The Spider-verse Is A Dazzling Work Of Art

Just after two weeks of its theatrical release, SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE raked in an impressive USD 400 million at the global box office. Achieving this box office number is no mean feat for a superhero animated film, and ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE, the sequel of 2018's SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, is now Sony's highest-grossing animated release in history. The film continues its money-making gains at the international box office by crossing the half a billion (USD) mark this week.

ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE follows about a year after the events of the first movie. Back at her own world, Gwen Stacey/ Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld) has been dealing with her personal demons. She is feeling emotionally fraught after losing her best friend Peter, and being not able to reveal her secret identity to her dad. Later on, Gwen is roped in to join the Spider Society, which is headed by Miguel O'Hara (Oscar Isaac), the intense and intimidating Spider-man 2099 from Earth 928B. The secret society had been created mainly to prevent the collapse of the multiverse, and consists of numerous Spider-variants as members.

As for Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), life has been busy-intense. Miles believes he is able to juggle life as a normal teenager as well as being the friendly neighbourhood vigilante. “I can do both!” has become his mantra. But in actual fact, Miles is struggling with the balancing act, and his parents sense that something is amiss with their son. Even though his schedule is packed to the max, Miles still feels lonely. He thinks his parents will never be able to fully accept his super-powered persona, and he sorely misses his fellow Spidey-pals, especially Gwen.

After a challenging attempt to capture Spot (Jason Schwartzman), the so-called ‘villain of the day’, Miles receives a surprise visit from Gwen. Meanwhile, fed up of not being taken seriously, Spot hones on to his evil purpose, and turns out to be even more powerful than expected. Gwen and Miles tries to stop Spot's plans to disrupt the inter-dimensional timelines, and are hurled into a multi-verse jumping adventure with life-changing consequences.

Since its release, film critics and movie audiences around the world have been singing praises of ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE. Red Dot Diva agrees with all the kudos - it is her favourite film in 2023 so far.

When it comes to the second instalment of a trilogy, there is a risk that it will not be as memorable as the first. It is like that oft uttered phrase: ‘you never forget your first love’. Red Dot Diva thought SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE was one of the best animated superhero stories she has ever seen. So, she was a little afraid that the sequel might be a disappointing experience. As it turns out, she found ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE to be an immersive and unforgettable 136-minute ride. Red Dot Diva is still vibing from its after effects to this day.

ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE thrusts you on a series of universe jumps and introduces a number of new characters, but it never loses track of Miles Morales' story as well as the sub-plots. This is due to the innovative animation team of over 1,000 artists from various studios who has managed to create a different aesthetic for each character. For instance, Gwen is accompanied by a green and pink watercolour style ‘mood ring’. The enthusiastic Pavitr Prabhakar/ Spider-man India (Karan Soni) from the bustling city of Mumbhattan web-slings in an animation style inspired by a 70's comic book, while anti-establishment cool cat Hobie Brown/ Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya) is fleshed-out via a cut-and-paste zine type sequence. All these distinctive looks are fused together to form the film's visual language that flows fluently with the compelling script and Daniel Pemberton's electrifying soundtrack. It is ingenious, really.

Also, as someone who appreciates villains in story-telling, Red Dot Diva appreciates that ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE has provided Spot with a unique backstory and motive. A superhero's desire to save the world is as good as the villain he has to face, and Spot has become one of the most formidable supervillain in a Marvel superhero movie. There is also the dilemma of what does it take to make someone a villain? Does considering the effects of a multi-universal crisis count?

ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE is not only a beautifully made film, it is also a deeply emotional and relatable one. Red Dot Diva says it is worth watching more than once, as there are so many things to take away from the multiple story arch. One of the key takeaways is about finding a place to belong, which everyone of us can identify with.

As part of the Live with Red Dot Diva series, Red Dot Diva has hosted a movie review and discussion of ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE with her geek bro Jedd Jong and good friend John Yeow.

The movie review can be viewed on the RDD Youtube channel here:

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Check out other Spider-man movie reviews:

* Diva's review of SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME


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