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

spider-man-into-the-spider-verse-2018-movieDirector: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey

Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure

Runtime: 117 Minutes

Main Cast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Zoë Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine

Plot: Miles Morales becomes Spider-Man after Kingpin’s use of a dimension-crossing super-collider causes 5 universes to join. Miles now has to learn to use his powers whilst also working with the other Spider people to stop Kingpin and return everyone to their home universes.

My Thoughts: I’m literally the last person in the world to watch Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, I’m sure of it. Never have I ever kicked myself so hard for not making the trip to the cinema! Believe in the hype, this movie really is as amazing as everyone is saying it is. Apologies in advance because this review isn’t going to be coherent in the slightest.

Where do I even start? I love animated movies, especially those with something different in their style, and this movie has style in buckets. It looks so cool. Cooler than its looks? The soundtrack. Every single song is perfect. Never did I ever think I would want to watch an animated Spider-Man stuck to the ceiling, singing Sunflower by Post Malone but it was a brilliant moment!

The casting choices? Spot on! I thought Jake Johnson was an odd choice before I watched the movie, but no one else could voice a lazy Spider-Man like he did. Nicolas Cage is hilarious as Spider-Man Noir. Also, does Mahershala Ali have some kind of superpowers when it comes to picking movies? Dude knows how to pick a winner for sure!

spider-man-spider-verse-peter-parker-miles-morales

Honestly, this movie just has everything you could want and more. It’s so funny, it has references aplenty for the comic fans, it has surprises along the way, it’s emotional, it’s just…perfect.

Best Bit: I could pick at least 10 just off the top of my head but the moment I keep replaying in my head is when Peter B. Parker is telling Miles his plan to make and steal a new ‘goober’. “I select a bagel…”

Worst Bit: The credits. I never wanted the movie to be over. Seriously though I can’t find a fault. I thought maybe Peni Parker or Spider-Ham might be annoying but they weren’t!

Fun Trivia: This film was dedicated in memory of Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko, who died on July 6, 2018, while this film was finishing production. However, this was not the only dedication, as a month before the film was released, Stan Lee died on November 12, 2018. The film was dedicated to both of Spider-Man’s creators.

My Rating: A full 5 out of 5 bagels. This is the best Spider-Man movie out there. Don’t @ me.

spider-man-spider-verse-select-a-bagel

Green Book (2018)

green-book-2018-movie-review-poster

(Originally reviewed for The LAMB Devours the Oscars – original post here)

Director: Peter Farrelly

Genre: Biography, Drama, Comedy

Runtime: 130 Minutes

Main Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Maniscalco, Dimiter D. Marinov, Mike Hatton, Don Stark, Tom Virtue, Brian Stepanek

Plot: Inspired by a true friendship in 1962, Green Book tells the story of Tony Lip, a club bouncer who accepts a job driving pianist Don Shirley on a tour through the Deep South, in the days when African Americans were reliant on the Green Book in order to find accommodation where they were welcome.

My Thoughts: In my painfully long wait for Green Book to get it’s UK release, I read many a review. A lot gave praise to the movie – but not enough for its attention during this year’s award season. I almost felt like a hardened movie critic when I headed to the cinema last week but let me cut the chase – Green Book very quickly melted my cold heart.

It’s impossible to look past the racism shown, and as always with movies like this, it’s difficult and sickening to think that this is what life was actually like – or in fact still is in some places around the globe. Human beings can be just the worst sometimes. Cutting through the seriousness though is a beautiful story of an unlikely friendship. Tony is rough around the edges, he’s quick to anger, he isn’t well spoken and at highbrow events, he sticks out like a sore thumb. Don is the complete opposite in every single way, and yet as the two spend more time together their friendship feels so genuine.

I can understand the frustration around Green Book’s attention. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, the plot is predictable without any surprises. It relies on the performances of the two leads (why is Mahershala Ali up for Supporting Actor?!) to carry it, but they do a stunning job. If it wins the Oscar later this month, I wouldn’t be mad.

green-book-viggo-mortensen-mahershala-ali

Best Bit: I’ve seen it already at least 100 times in the trailer that my cinema has been flaunting in my face for at least 5 months, but the fried chicken scene never fails to make me laugh. What was even better was that it was a recurring gag in the movie – although I think I was the only one who laughed out loud when it was served at that fancy dinner in honour of Don Shirley.

Worst Bit: This is minor I know, but the only thing that niggled me was how quickly Tony went from throwing away glasses simply because a black man had drunk from them, to happily attending an interview to drive Don around for 8 weeks. It felt like either clunky writing or a chunk of the movie being edited out before the final release.

Fun Trivia: The pizza scene is drawn from real life: Nick Vallelonga said Tony Lip used to order a whole, unsliced pizza pie, fold it and eat it. Upon hearing the anecdote, Viggo Mortensen insisted they try to fit it into the movie. Peter Farrelly protested, saying there were enough funny eating scenes but agreed to try it. When the crew burst out laughing, he agreed to leave the scene in.
(Note to every movie director – you can NEVER have enough funny eating scenes)

My Rating: 4 and a half huge pizzas that Tony Lip folded in half and ate. What a man, ladies and gentlemen.

green-book-tony-lip-pizza

Oscars Special: Moonlight (2017), Loving (2017) & Hell or High Water (2016)

oscars-movie-reviews-moonlight-loving-hell-high-water

How are we all feeling today, after yesterday’s Oscar Nominations? I was lucky enough to have them fall into my lunch break at work, so I had my tablet set up in the kitchen with my headphones. Sadly I’m in the only movie nut in the office so I got a few odd looks as I made faces as the nominations were coming in. I’m gutted for Amy Adams, but I’m not on the war path like I was when The Lego Movie got snubbed. Still don’t like the sound of ‘Oscar Nominated Suicide Squad’ though.

Perhaps it was a mercy that Silence only picked up 1 nomination, because as much as I know I should see it, I just can’t bring myself to do it. Still, we’re living in a world where Passengers has more Oscar nominations than Silence. Just let that sink in for a while, and tell me this isn’t the beginning of another 2016.

harrison-ford-looking-worried

Anyway, now the lists are out I can put my regular watch list on hold and try as hard as I can to see as many of the movies as possible! Annoyingly, 7 out of the 9 Best Picture nominees are 2017 releases in the UK, so I’m going to be pushing my luck. I’ve only been able to see Loving and Moonlight thanks to advance screenings my local cinema put on. My point is, I’m not going to have time to write full reviews for them all, so this is the first of perhaps a few mini review posts to cover what I’ve seen.

There’s a theme within a theme here, as all 3 of these movies made me sad as hell afterwards! Thank goodness for La La Land which lifted my spirits. Let’s do this, shall we?

moonlight-movie-2017-oscars

Moonlight (2017)

I was apprehensive about watching Moonlight, I’ll admit. I watched the trailer and read a brief synopsis, but couldn’t see much of a plot. That’s not really what Moonlight is all about though, it’s a 3 part movie that tells the story of Chiron, AKA Little, AKA Black (played by Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes) and his struggle in life growing up with his troubled Mother in a crime riddled neighborhood in Miami. Chiron is a quiet, shy boy and doesn’t fit in at school, often being bullied for being a wimp.

Moonlight is the kind of movie that breaks your heart into a million pieces. I didn’t cry, but that’s because by the third segment I felt pretty numb. I don’t know how I expected it to end, because I don’t think I wanted it to. It’s a beautiful movie in every sense.

Moonlight has been nominated for 8 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), Best Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris), Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing & Best Original Score.

loving-ruth-negga-joel-edgerton

Loving (2017)

Despite it not being my usual kind of movie, I was looking forward to seeing Loving, mainly because I was completely unaware about the story of Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), an interracial couple who are arrested for their marriage in Virginia, and the legal battle that ensued. I guess the saying ignorance is bliss holds a lot of merit, because it took me so long to even wrap my head around the fact that interracial marriage was illegal.

The movie was just a little too slow for me to really get immersed, and I could never get used to seeing Nick Kroll in such a serious role as a lawyer, because I’m too used to picturing him as The Douche in Parks and Recreation!

Loving has been nominated for  1 Oscar: Best Leading Actress (Ruth Negga).

hell-or-high-water-ben-foster-chris-pine

Hell or High Water (2016)

It feels like I entered 2016 having never watched a Western, and ended it having watched more Westerns that Rom Coms (I watch a lot of Rom Coms) without even realising, or trying! Hell or High Water is the best of the bunch, though. Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) are brothers robbing banks across Texas to try and pay off the mortgage on their late Mother’s ranch. Rather than hit 1 bank for the entire sum, they rob multiple banks for smaller amounts so as not to be caught. However, Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) soon picks up the chase.

This is another fairly slow movie, but the tension gets ramped up as it goes along, ending in an adrenaline-fueled final act. I wasn’t even sure who I was rooting for in the end, but it was all quite emotional. I really wish Ben Foster was given more attention for his role, I thought he was fantastic.

Hell or High Water has been nominated for 4 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Jeff Bridges), Best Original Screenplay & Best Film Editing.