4 1/2 Stars

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023)

Like many a nerd, I have spent the last few weeks glued to my Nintendo Switch playing The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (which I admit to playing as I do this review)

What makes it a truly effective sequel to the brilliant Breath of the Wild is not just the story (which has elements of Infinity War, time travel, and even Spirited Away) is that it expands upon its already vast world into new heights. The same can be said about Spider-Man: Across the Spider Verse, the sequel to the animated masterclass Into the Spider Verse.

Not long after the events of the first film, young Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is seen doing what we Spidey fans know every Spider-(wo)man has to deal with in the early days of their career: trying to balance fighting crime with having a somewhat every day life. Sadly for Miles, his real friends were not entirely of his own universe and left him in the first film. That changes when he gets a revisit by Gwen Stacey (Hailee Steinfeld), who we get to see more depth too as a character in this film. What she is doing in his universe I will not dive into: This is a film that I refuse to spoil further.

I even wish to refrain from mentioning the characters but I will tread lightly. The vocal cast is rather remarkable, including the likes of Brian Tyree Henry, Jason Schwartzman, Karan Soni, Issa Rae, and an almost unrecognizable Daniel Kaluuya. The biggest stand out is Oscar Issac as Spider Man 2099 (who was featured in the now legendary post credit scene in the first film). 

I am struggling to come up with the right words to describe the animation of this film (for any word I use will be understating the effect of the film), but I will have to settle on simply stellar. As you may have gathered from the title (as well as the trailer), this film settles in more than one universe, each of which has their own animation style. You can see why this film (as well as the upcoming third film) were pushed back, and it was all for the better.

Even with the plethora of universes and their unique art styles, the core of every good Spider-Man flick is how relatable the protagonist is (especially to teenagers). Deep down, we all want to do what is right with the limited amount of time we have in our schedules (this was perfectly exemplified in 2004’s Spider-Man 2). We are always, in our own ways, thrown in situations where choices may seem like life or death. And, of course, we all just want to be told it is all okay at the end of the day.

Parents, the film has been compared to the likes of The Empire Strikes Back, but not just because of quality. It is indeed a darker film, mainly due to its themes. It has some casual swearing for a PG movie, but nothing too drastic. If you kids saw the first one, they are fine here.

At two hours and sixteen minutes, the film’s length is indeed the only minor qualm, even if it barely drags at any moment, even the intentionally slower, tender moments. I for one could not think of what part to cut if I were editing this. 

Even at this length, I should note I did not get up once during the film to use the restroom.

And I consumed many liquids before and during the film.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
4 Stars Movies

The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)

This time of year, we normally get some original Netflix films that are not worth mentioning (such as the atrocity that is Thunder Force, a movie I detested so much I keep forgetting it is not called Thunder Rush). That irrelevant film took the superhero premise and made a family film that was not fun for anyone in the family. Thankfully, that film will be forgotten once families discover a film that was made for any member of the family: The Mitchells vs the Machines.

4 Stars Movies

Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)

For those who are suffering from film fatigue of the superhero genre, you can at least rest a little easy knowing that Spider-Man: Far from Home (the ending of Phase Three of the MCU) is the last we will see for at least a year. For those who are fans (such as yours truly), it is another (somewhat) solid entry into the MCU, and an even deeper dive into the world of Spider-Man.

Taking place just months after Avengers: Endgame (meaning if you have not seen it, stop reading now, because it is impossible to review this film without talking about the fall out of Endgame), Peter Parker (Tom Holland, proving again he is the best Spidey to date) returns to high school after the reverse of Thanos’s snap (called the “blip”) from five years ago. While Peter and many of his classmates did return, those that stayed still aged five years older. He still tries to be the “friendly neighborhood” webslinger, but is soon thrown into the position of having to fill the shoes of his late mentor (and father figure) Tony Stark/Iron Man. This is apparent as Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) attempts to call Parker, only to be ghosted (“You don’t ghost Nick Fury!”) It also does not help that his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) is starting a budding romance with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). In short, Peter is in desperate need of a vacation.

 He is on his way for a class trip to Venice, where he looks forward to hanging out with his buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon), and may even get to spend time with his crush M.J. (Zendaya), who has a bit of a slightly darker/awkward side than her past cinema portrayals. This of course is put on the side when big water and fire monsters (called Elementals) are terrorizing the locals, meaning Peter will have to join in with Fury, Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), and the one fighting the monsters from the start, Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), who becomes known as Mysterio.

All the actors are top notch. Gyllenhaal (who I still think is underrated as an actor) works off of the younger Holland, and there are times it is hard to tell who is the veteran thespian. As for Zendaya, I admit I was very worried when I heard she would take on the role of M.J. (though not entirely Mary Jane, she may as well be). The chemistry between her and Holland is so palpable that I admit to being totally wrong. While they are not teenagers in real life (both are in their early twenties), they look, sound, and act like actual teenagers that we don’t care.

As is always the case, the film has enough of those nicely seasoned comedic moments that will have you in smiles and giggles (such as the acronym for the gift that Stark has given Parker). It is also rather amusing to know that, at the start, Peter is somewhat almost oblivious to the fact that he can’t get out of helping Fury. It some ways in reminded me of Proverbs 16:9: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”

(Note: The following paragraph contains a spoiler for the film). [bg_collapse view=”button-blue” color=”#ebebeb” icon=”eye” expand_text=”Show Me the Spoiler” collapse_text=”Close the Spoiler” ] The movie also reminds us how we as humans can sometimes trust the wrong person. When we are vulnerable (especially if we have just lost someone close to us as Peter has lost Tony), we can look for nearly anyone who can fill that void, or for someone to share our burden with. While God would certainly be able to provide that person for us, Satan will do all he can to make us follow the wrong person, making our situation end in chaos. (End Spoiler)[/bg_collapse]

Parents, the film does have a little violence and some good amount of swearing (including one use of the middle finger), but nothing else to worry you. If your kids have seen any other MCU movie, they will be okay with this PG-13 rating.

While this is not the best of the Spider-Man films (2004’s Spider-Man 2 was always the best until 2018’s Into the Spider-Verse came along), it still does service for fans and non-fans alike. While watching it, the theater was sold out (unsurprising), meaning I had to sit in the front row (not to mention next to young teen girls, and if you are sitting next to teen girls when the movie has Tom Holland, you can be sure to hear their reactions). The special effects were so uncanny I actually was happy to sit as close as I did. The film will satisfy everyone’s inner spider- sense.

Or, to be more accurate, “Peter tingle”.


Rating: 4 out of 5.
5 Stars

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

If you were to show a graph of the quality of all the films about Marvel’s (arguably) most popular hero, there would be a lot of ups (Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming) and downs (Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man 2). Still, just when you thought Tom Holland’s Spider-Man (a wonderful portrayal) was the best film we would get, in comes swinging Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which is quite possibly the best Spidey to ever web up the big screen.

If you have seen the trailer, you know there is a good amount of Spiders in this web. The main one is Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a local teenager who goes to a private school he hates despite it being the wishes of his police chief dad (Brian Tyree Henry). The only person he does seem to have a positive rapport with is his Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali). It is with him that, one night he is (spoiler, well not really) bitten by a radioactive spider and senses his new powers.

The other versions of Spider-Man appear after a rip is caused in the quantum realm by Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber), better known as Kingpin. The main one is a much older Spider-Man (Jake Johnson), who has left his beloved MJ and is not in the best of shape. We also meet Spider Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), and Spider-Ham (John Mulaney). Trust me, you don’t want me to say any more about their characters. It is worth witnessing yourself.

Oh, how glad I am this movie was animated. Had the filmmakers tried to make this in the real world, it would not have succeeded. Animation is used to help explore more of the human imagination that live action cannot (I hope those at Disney who like remaking animated films into live action are reading this).

Yet the glorious animation still does not take away from the moving story. It has been some time since tears were in my eyes from both laughing out loud and at moments that truly got me a little choked up.

Parents, the movie can be a little dark, but it should be fine for kids elementary and up. No swearing (despite a few minor ones) or sexual content. Only the mildest of violence.

I close by saying that if there is a better ending post credit scene than the one here, I have not seen it. And I have seen all the movies in the MCU.

So yeah, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is amazing.


Rating: 5 out of 5.