If only American animation took this path rather than the now rudimentary studio work that continues to coast on Toy Story’s creative spark… what a world of animation this would be.

Across the Spider-Verse is truly astonishing to watch, a technical achievement that’s as infinitely dazzling as it is seemingly impossible. The mixture of styles, the way they envelop a scene’s emotion, and even define a character’s world or personality is breathtaking. That so few films take such risks, to truly elevate the art in an era of unlimited technological possibilities, keeps the medium from reaching its pinnacle. Then again, maybe Across the Spider-Verse is that visual pinnacle.

Across the Spider-Verse digs in, churning emotional depth and maturity

Critical comparisons to Empire Strikes Back seem fair – Across the Spider-Verse succeeds on that level for its dazzling beauty and (mostly) for its narrative form. Admittedly a lot to take in, the second act’s finale begins spilling over into tiresome exposition about multiverses, screenwriting’s now repetitious way to skirt around potential inconsistencies and plot holes. Not here, to be fair – Spider-Verse’s purpose from the first film was to introduce this idea, play with it, and create chaos. Still, it’s becoming a common trope and seems more indebted to fan service than storytelling, and that’s the plot-slowing bit in Across the Spider-Verse.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) remains the centerpiece no matter how many worlds or universes factor into this sequel. While initially dealing in generic (and for Spider-Man, typical) teen angst, Across the Spider-Verse digs in, churning emotional depth and maturity scene-to-scene in an ever elevating way. Stakes grow the deeper this story goes, leading to an impossible choice for Morales, plus a learned truth that’s devastating – Empire Strikes Back tier, furthering the comparison’s justification.

There’s no closure at the end, just fan-satisfying hype for the eventual sequel. At 140-minutes, finishing on a marketing hook feels cheap, the pay-off more expectation rather than satisfaction. The build-up deserved more. Even still, getting there is joyous, even amid the convoluted science. When not involved in screen-tearing, intentionally glitching, multi-style action, Across the Spider-Verse knows how to keep the imagery compelling through dialog. It’s always purposeful, with sometimes just a suggestion of backgrounds or just swatches of color. That’s captivating, and uses the animation medium for more than trying to insinuate a reality.


Astonishing in its vibrancy and color, Across the Spider-Verse is, forgive the unintended pun, a marvel to look at. Saturation veers toward mega-saturation, the vividness and intensity worth putting on even in the background to lighten a room, treating a TV like a moving photo frame. It’s well past typical limitations, and Spider-Verse isn’t restrained by any reality. Backgrounds change from nothing but color swatches to scenery, and regardless, the aesthetic is food for the eyes.

Likewise, the addition of Dolby Vision brings a brilliance to the imagery. Across the Spider-Verse keeps glowing. Anything that might need light gets it, usually at its fullest to enhance the boldness of this comic art. Not a frame passes that doesn’t take advantage of this tech, whether that’s the undeniably pure black levels or the contrast.

It’s often easy to blandly praise CG work on UHD or Blu-ray. Across the Spider-Verse is on another tier by itself though, helped by the aesthetic style, of course, but also how well it’s utilized. Clarity looks endless, perfect, and unobstructed. There are no barriers to the perfection. Every simulated line, dot, paint splash, and texture utilizes 4K to its absolute peak.


Boomy, intense, and properly loud (not only for the sake of raw volume), Dolby Atmos pairs faultlessly to the rapid-fire imagery. Sounds bounce effortlessly between channels, and with all of the web-slinging/flying, heights generously factor in. Precision and directionality hit absolute reference grade. There’s no end to the accuracy.

Music thumps in the low-end, balanced to the rest of the action, which erupts with every explosion or heavy punch/kick/strike. A building collapse not long past the hour mark hits with room shaking density. Depth and power, like the video, represent the format’s greatest potential.


On the Blu-ray, Sony includes a number of general featurettes, some on the designs, comics, cast, and music. It’s all typical. Deleted scenes and easter eggs then join a commentary track with co-directors Justin K. Thompson, Joaquim Dos Santos, and Kemp Powers. That commentary is on the UHD, unlike the other bonuses.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


An absolute artistic achievement, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a truly epic sequel, only bogged down by exposition.

User Review
2.67 (3 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 55 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

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