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

Director: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Cast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Kimiko Glenn, John Mulaney, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber

Screenplay: Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman

117 mins. Rated PG for frenetic sequences of animated action violence, thematic elements, and mild language.

IMDb Top 250: #26 (as of 1/13/2019)

 

I was pretty certain that the Sony Animation Spider-Man movie would disappear into obscurity. Sony, as a company, has been throwing everything at the Spider-Man IP and hoping something would stick. After making a deal to get Spider-Man into the MCU, they proceeded to make a Venom movie not featuring Spider-Man, talks of a Kraven the Hunter film and a Silver and Black film, and then there’s Into the Spider-Verse. None of these properties excited me on the outset, but I was at the very least quite thankful to see Miles Morales finally get the big screen treatment.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore, Dope, The Pretenders) is a teen struggling with his identity. He attends a boarding school that he doesn’t feel at home in. He looks up to Spider-Man but his father, Jefferson Davis (Brian Tyree Henry, Hotel Artemis, TV’s Atlanta) sees the masked crusader as a menace. All Miles wants is to have purpose, and when he is bitten by a radioactive spider and develops powers similar to Spider-Man’s, he finds that this may be his chance. Matters are complicated, though, when he runs into Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson, Tag, TV’s New Girl), a Spider-Man not from his universe. That’s not all. Spider-People from all different universes are converging on Miles’s world, and they must work together to fix the problem and get them all home while they still can.

Into the Spider-Verse is an assault on the senses, and I mean that in the best possible way. My eyes actually needed to adjust to the intense color display and terrific voicework displayed in the film. This film actually forced a new animation amalgam to be attempted in order to give it that “jumps off the comic book page” look that makes the film so damn pretty. The process involved rendering the 3D images and then working over them with 2D drawing to give it a comic book panel look. It’s gorgeous and altogether the most impressive feat of the film.

Beyond all that, Into the Spider-Verse has such an impressive and relatable story. Miles is a kid who doesn’t fit in. He even becomes Spider-Man but he doesn’t believe that he is worthy of the mantle. Peter B. Parker is a man who has lost the woman he loves because he was incapable of being the man he needs to be. Even Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, TV’s Ray Donovan), the Kingpin, has an understandable motive for his menacing plot. During all this, I didn’t feel the stakes of the film very much, and that’s a fault, but it was so fun to watch that it didn’t bother me like it should’ve.

Into the Spider-Verse subverts expectations so well. There are genuinely surprising moments, twists, and turns in the film, something not easy to do with a character/franchise that is seven films over the past twenty years. The Stan Lee cameo in the film just has so much more packed within it, especially given our tremendous loss this past year. The film even sends up the post-credits scene with theirs, and I won’t spoil it, but it’s my favorite moment in the film.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a strange movie, and it’s also totally brilliant. It exists perfectly on its own, even though some would argue that it is a sequel to the Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man films (and I agree). It’s to Spider-Man what Cabin in the Woods is to horror films, in that it validates everything without being beholden to any of it. But beyond all that, it’s an amazing story of finding oneself among the craziness of life. It’s a special damn movie. Go see it.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

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Director: George Miller

Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton

Screenplay: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nico Lathouris

120 mins. Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images.

iMDB Top 250: #68 (as of 7/10/2015)

 

How often does a film get a good sequel 36 years after its initial release? Not often. That’s the answer, and it was my worry when I heard that Mad Max would be continuing the franchise with a fourth installment, Mad Max: Fury Road featuring a new Max in Tom Hardy (Inception, Child 44). In this new chapter, Max Rockatansky is captured and used as a blood bag by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, Moby Dick, Sleeping Beauty) and his War Boys. When the War Boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult, Warm Bodies, X-Men: Days of Future Past) takes Max along on his hunt for Joe’s missing wives, stolen from him by his Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron, Prometheus, Dark Places), Max gets caught in a war on Fury Road and his alliances to only himself must be put into question.

APPROVED BY - SJE(Tom Hardy)

Director George Miller (Happy Feet, Babe: Pig in the City) proves that age is only a number as he controls the most high-octane action spectacle that I can recall in recent memory. His unique blend of story with nonstop action gives audiences a personal tale of freedom, redemption, and the ability to survive in a world without laws.

Tom Hardy is a great new Max. He doesn’t need to speak often to convey the complex emotions and depression that Max struggles from after the loss of his wife and child. His leadership struggle with new ally Furiosa, played excellently by Theron. Just like the previous films, this film isn’t entirely about Max. It’s a Furiosa movie all the way. Many have complained that the focus should be on Max, but what they should realize is that this series is rarely ever focused on Max. Each adventure is usually told as a legend from another’s perspective and in Fury Road, that perspective is Furiosa’s.

Hugh Keays-Byrne and Joe’s brides, including Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (Transformers: Dark of the Moon) and Zoe Kravitz (Divergent, Dope), all do great work as well, with a standout crazy performance from Nicholas Hoult as Nux.

The usage of 80% practical effects over computer-generated images helps create an astoundingly realistic yet overwhelmingly fantastical view of the apocalyptic landscape. The screenplay, a combination of sequences storyboarded and story written to format it, works so well. And then there is Miller’s reliance on trying new things, like hiring wife Margaret Sixel to edit the film. Sixel has no experience editing, but he entrusted her to use her novice skills to create something new and interesting, coupled beautifully with the furious score from Junkie XL.

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Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the best times you will have at the theater this summer and contains some of the best action sequences ever put to the screen. Miller’s creative decision to devise something new rather than fall back on remakes and rehashes helps to bring in fans of the original while attracting new attention from non-fans.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of George Miller’s Mad Max, click here.

 

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