Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse comes home on 4K, Blu-ray, and Digital

Review by C.J. Bunce

Sequel to the monumental, ground-breaking animated hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse (reviewed here) is its sequel Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse, the second installment of a trilogy of movies diving into the myriad corners of 60 years of Spider-Man comics.  Inasmuch as this is a movie focusing on Miles Morales, voiced by Shameik Moore, it’s the returning Hailee Steinfeld’s Spider-Gwen who dazzles, stealing every scene.  The Easter eggs in every corner of the frame make the home edition of the movie–now available for pre-order here at Amazon in 4K, Blu-ray, and Digital–the best way to watch it.  It arrives this Tuesday, September 5.

The latest installment in the much overdone trope tackling the dangers of dabbling in the multiverse, the movie provides an easy way to create a “canon point” with Tom Holland’s latest live-action multiverse movie, Spider-Man: No Way Home (reviewed here).

What’s a canon point?

Every new creator in the multiverse space likes to put their own signature on the possibilities of changing the past and fixing their own world.  Here the writing team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller–who won the Oscar for best animated feature for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse–along with Dave Callaham, define a canon point as those fixed moments in time across parallel timelines that cannot be changed.  The idea has been in science fiction for decades–see cautionary time manipulation tales from Connie Willis going back to H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine and before.  This is just their new name for it, and it’s a cute nod to fanboys and fangirls who are always arguing about canon in their fandom stories.  Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse uses canon points to bring into the animated realm certain live-action, animated, and comic book and comic strip versions of characters from Spidey tales, even Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield–if you don’t blink.  We last saw Holland’s Spidey in this same kind of mess-up.  Why not merge the stories?

This story is a logical continuation of the first, with Miles moving on with his life after causing the problems that opened his door to the multiverse in the first place.  We meet a strike force of multiverse Spideys a la TimeCop, including Gwen, but this soon expands to a world of every Spidey incarnation that has been thought of.  Did they really get them all?  Probably not, but this is a movie meant for home viewing, the kind you must stop and rewind frequently since your eyes cannot catch every corner of the screen at once.  Every corner is packed with those Easter eggs, so expect to get busy and watch this show multiple times.

Many Spidey incarnations return, but mainly in cameos.  Newer Spidey versions are introduced, including a very 1990s drawn Miguel O’Hara, voiced by Oscar Isaac, the key antagonist.  The villain on the page is Jason Schwartzman’s Spot, a character that looks like he was designed by Alan Moore.  Spot is fantastic, but surprisingly is relegated to not much more than a cameo, too.  Other new Spideys include Daniel Kaluuya as Hobie Brown aka Spider-Punk, my personal favorite in the movie, plus Issa Ray as a pregnant Spider-Woman, Karan Soni’s Pavitr Prabhakar, Amanda Stenberg’s Spider-Byte, Jack Quaid as another Peter Parker, Nic Novicki as a new Lego Spider-Man, and too many more to notice or keep-up with without much more post-game follow-up.

Steinfeld’s Gwen, whose world has been given its own pinkish aura, is a reminder that the next best live-action superheroine may be right in front of us.  She’ll need to be played by someone much younger for her live-action premiere, but she’s more interesting than her counterparts (unless someone wants to give us a Spider-Noir movie).

Where does this movie stack up with more than 200 big-budget superhero movies delivered this century?  Parts are as good as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse.  But the spectacular 3D art of the first movie takes a back seat to what feels like a less detailed, more impressionistic style of animation.  The best sees Spot discover his super-ability.  This feels more like a cartoon than the first movie, than animated superhero films like The Incredibles and The LEGO Movie and recent cutting-edge animated movies.  But every Gwen scene, and every scene with Miles and Gwen together, makes you wonder why we couldn’t be watching this story in live action right now instead.

Composer Daniel Pemberton (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance) brings his next big score, which feels like Daft Punk’s music for Tron: Legacy, including lines that sound exactly the same at times.  It works well for the surreal, time-bending nature of this story.

Initially titled Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse Part One, the Part One has been dropped and the third movie in the trilogy is now to be called Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-verse.  Be prepared for this movie to end on a cliffhanger.

What lies ahead in the coming week’s home releases?  Look for Amazon here for key releases, a Steelbook edition, an “X-Ray Edition” here, plus different configurations via specific retailers like Target.  The general details are broken down as follows:

  • Blu-ray, 4K UHD and Digital Exclusives:
    • Obscure Spiders and Easter Eggs
    • Deleted Scene: Miguel Calling
    • “I’mma Do My Own Thing” Interdimensional Destiny
    • Across the Worlds: Designing New Dimensions
    • Designing Spiders and Spots
    • Scratches, Score and The Music of the Multiverse
    • Escape from Spider-Society
    • Across the Comics-Verse
    • Lyric Videos
    • Filmmaker Commentary
    • Also Includes:
      • Creating the Ultimate Spider-Man Movie
      • Raising a Hero
      • Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Cast
  • DVD
    • Creating the Ultimate Spider-Man Movie
    • Raising a Hero
    • Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Cast

Spidey fans won’t want to miss the home release of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse, the best way to watch this movie.  Order it now here at Amazon.

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