“My Name Is Miles Morales. I’m The One And Only Spider-Man. At Least That’s What I Thought…”
With the superhero genre reaching some sort of unprecedented cinematic peak in 2018 with the likes of Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War in particular reminding that even in a climate stuffed with familiar tales of heroism, there are still many tales left to be told, the last month of the year has reserved just a few more before returning once again with a new handful of highly anticipated releases come 2019. Produced by the successful American pairing of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the first of two big comic releases this month is of course, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, a barmy and maniacal addition into its’ respective genre which continues the recent success of the pair’s ventures into animation after the likes of the rather excellent The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie, with a movie which utilises the versatile figure of Marvel’s web-slinging cash cow for a dazzlingly designed superhero adventure which attempts to offer something slightly different to the same old comic-based routine many of us are well and truly used to. With a gorgeously orchestrated animated design and some snappy comedic dialogue, Into the Spider-Verse is an entertaining if slightly functional Marvel addition, offering some of the best visual splendour available this year but suffering ever so heavily from an overstretched running time which does unfortunately begin to test the patience as it ticks just under the two hour mark.
With an overly familiar Lord/Miller tongue-in-cheek sensibility running through the central core of the film, Into the Spider-Verse begins by poking fun at the varying cliches attached to the superhero genre, particularly in regards to the many origin-based stories and similar cinematic developments of Spider-Man himself since the turn of the twentieth century, and with a clear understanding that many in the audience will undoubtedly be comic obsessives themselves, the snappy dialogue and in-house running gags prove effective, even when the core storyline does strangely end up falling right into the familiar superhero plot devices the script finds joy in making fun out of. With the central appeal of the movie hanging on two key factors, the first of which being the jerky, stylised animation which more than ever before seems to be a direct three dimensional transition of the comics from paper to screen, and the second of course being the chance to see radically different versions of the Spider-Man character all appear together on-screen in order to combat the central threat of the larger than life, Wilson Fisk, the question remains whether such selling points actually benefit the movie as a whole or are simply nothing more than cinematic gimmicks. In the case of the animation, a high proportion of it is indeed spectacular to behold on the big screen, with sweeping, soaring wide screen views of an animated New York really quite breathtaking, but as the movie moves into its’ predictable climax, the overreliance on stuffy, messy and maniacal splashes of pixelated colour brings the film on par with Teen Titans! Go To The Movies in terms of the headache inducing pain your eyes endure before the credits ultimately roll, but with a stellar supporting voice cast including the likes of Hailee Steinfield, (True Grit) Nicholas Cage, (Mandy) and Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Into the Spider-Verse is an entertaining, if flawed, sugar rush of a movie with enough to like to counteract the migraine you may obtain after watching it.
Overall Score: 6/10
“We Lose! He Beat Us! The Game Is Over..!”
Beginning his big-screen career with a collection of Hollywood stars and a mildly comedic central gag to play with, debutante director, Jeff Tomsic, adapts Russell Adams’ 2013 article, “It Takes Planning, Caution To Avoid Being It”, an account of a true story published in The Wall Street Journal which focused on a group of life-long friends who spend one month each year playing the titular game of tag with overly dedicated and sophisticated measures in order to succeed. With a band of usual American comedy suspects including Ed Helms (Father Figures), Hannibal Buress (Blockers) and Jake Johnson (21 Jump Street), Tomsic’s movie follows the reunion of four particularly immature friends as they team up in order to finally “tag” Jeremy Renner’s (Captain America: Civil War) swaggering, soon-to-be married Jerry before his self proclaimed retirement at the end of their chosen month in which the game takes place. With a handful of child-like slapstick set pieces, seething bromantic chemistry and an overarching sensibility which relies on its’ audience to be as similarly immature as its’ leading characters, Tag is indeed a solid comedic winner, one which although suffers slightly from a violently overstretched central gag and a couple of strange narrative add-ons, works due to a likeable array of personalities and sharp, well-timed gags which managed to make even this hard chestnut giggle with childish amusement.
With an opening act which introduces the central relationship between Helms’ Hogan Malloy and Jon Hamm’s (Baby Driver) Bob Callahan, a successful businessman who hides his inner paranoia and low self-esteem behind sharp suits and formal haircuts, the movie’s first set piece in which Malloy takes a job as a janitor at Callahan’s place of work in order to tag him pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the movie, with the zippy one hundred minute runtime being crammed with slapstick inspired chase sequences which move from golf courses to wedding receptions as particular characters attempt to evade the embarrassment of being it. With Renner as the self-proclaimed master of the game whose transition from child to adult has remained free of ever being tagged, his planned wedding is the battleground for one last attempt, and whilst Renner is only used sparingly at times in favour of the core quartet of friends, his performance is joyously entertaining, with Renner clearly embracing the sheer nonsensical nature of the script which he is working with. With a concluding attempt to pull at the heartstrings, the movie does finish on surprisingly rank terms, particularly when the tone of the movie pretty much throughout is utter silliness, but within the rather middling genre of contemporary American comedies, Tag is trashy fun which passes the time rather neatly.
Overall Score: 6/10
“Welcome To A New World Of Gods And Monsters…”
Adding a new layer to the ongoing genre of Universal Horror, a cinematic legacy which began all the way back in the 1920’s. the newest blockbuster franchise comes in the form of the so-called “Dark Universe”, a directed step into another legion of remakes and re-imaginings which begins this week with The Mummy and is set to continue into the future with fresh interpretations of classic monster movies which are reported to include the likes of Van Helsing, Frankenstein’s Monster and of course, Dracula. Taking the time away from beating the heck out of people in Jack Reacher and flying super speedy jet planes in the upcoming Top Gun sequel, Tom Cruise leads the way as the flagship star of the franchise’s beginnings in the latest incarnation of The Mummy, a well-known and well-versed adventure tale, with arguably the most popular representation being the Stephen Sommers led take in 1999 which featured a clean shaven Brendan Fraser and a pre-Daniel Craig infused Rachel Weisz. With Alex Kurtzman on directorial duty, a filmmaker with a background in the likes of movies such as Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness and Mission: Impossible III, the latest incarnation of The Mummy is unfortunately a generic, overblown snooze-fest, ultimately resulting in a movie which begins the Dark Universe franchise in a rather mediocre manner to say the least.
With a narrative which is more than familiar in terms of the overall set-up of the titular bandaged antagonist, The Mummy suffers too from a wild scope in tonal bipolar, changing from B-Movie horror to cringe-inducing comedy in between an array of soulless set pieces which either consist of endless CGI hollowness or people wildly screaming whilst being shot at with both never actually managing to induce a sense of threat into the proceedings. At the heart of the action, the duo star power of both Tom Cruise and Russel Crowe never really have anything juicy to work with either, and although Crowe’s character reveal was quite charming in a in-joke, canon kind of way, Cruise’s overly cocky and quite annoying leading character is at its’ best a poor depiction of Brendan Fraser. Similarly, although Boutella has all the hallmarks of a beautifully seductive Egyptian princess, her campy leading villain is ultimately a dead rubber alongside a long list of supporting characters who are either there for cannon fodder or for cranking the creaky narrative into place. The Mummy isn’t exactly terrible, it just reeks of laziness, and for a movie which is meant to propel a new franchise into some sort of success, Kurtzman’s movie doesn’t do the job effectively enough to wonder where it ultimately goes next.
Overall Score: 5/10
Dan – In terms of childhood memories, particularly those of a cinematic pedigree, the Jurassic Park series was one that I never wholly took to and thus never really had a set place in my heart like other childhood films such as Back to the Future, Star Wars and even Lord of the Rings, a trilogy of movies that did, and still does, have a secure place in my love of cinema. Sure, I recall watching Jurassic Park and even remember watching Jurassic Park III in the cinema as a child, but the sheer wow factor of the “dinosaur dystopia” in which Spielberg and co. had created never really excited me in ways that other films did. I recently watched the trilogy once again after years of them being in the category of just “seen it”, in order to discover whether my childhood had in fact been a complete disgrace, yet my feelings still remain the same. From a a much more mature and critical standpoint also, it was clear to see that the first Jurassic Park was clearly the best out of the trilogy, with it to this day still having moments of pure excitement and tension, but it then all being spoilt by its’ predecessors The Lost World and Jurassic Park III which were, let’s just say, nowhere near as good. So now, 22 years after the original movie, we have Jurassic World starring Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy), Bryce Dallas Howard (Spider-Man 3), Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil) whilst being directed and partly written by Colin Trevorrow of Safety Not Guaranteed fame. Before entering my local multiplex, I was cautious of Jurassic World maybe carrying on the torch of another mediocre dinosaur film but as soon as the credits rolled it was clear to see this was definitely not the case. In fact, its’ almost as good as the original. Almost.
When scientists at the world famous Jurassic World theme park, located on the Isla Nublar, disobey rules clearly laid out in the first three Jurassic Park films such as DON’T MESS WITH DINO DNA, their new creation, the aptly named Indominus Rex, decides to go AWOL, leading to mass panic and mass murder on the island, forcing park manager Claire (Dallas Howard) and trainer Owen (Pratt) into finding a solution to prevent the death of not only themselves, but the 20,000 tourists stuck on the island with them. Seems like a pretty straightforward Jurassic Park style plot doesn’t it? And it most definitely is, but one of the things that I loved about Jurassic World was that it didn’t stop long enough for you to really care about the weakness of its’ plot with it constantly ramming up the dinosaur action up to eleven, leaving you continuously with a sense of breathlessness and feelings I probably should have felt when I watched the first film as a child. Not only does the tension hit home due to the surprising amount of bloodshed and death on-screen throughout, but also due to the expertly crafted dinosaurs that we are faced with. Each and every scene in which a dinosaur appeared was genuinely jaw-dropping and deserves a round of applause for the amount of precise detail that those tasked with the creation of such have adhered to. Top marks.
Of course, the film does have weaknesses, and weaknesses that have been current in the franchise from the start such as having quite a few incidental characters whom are used simply as cannon fodder for death-by-dinosaur on screen, and having an annoying tendency for making human beings seem actually quite stupid in the line of fire, but these weaknesses are glossed over by the sheer spectacle that is presented, with likable leading characters in the form of Pratt and Howard also doing well in solidifying Jurassic World as one of the forerunners in the 2015 blockbuster race. In a nutshell then? Miles better than the two previous Jurassic Park entries but maybe just below the original in terms of quality, Jurassic World is a bigger, bolder and cooler entry into an inevitably ever-growing canon of movies. Jurassic World, you have my endorsement.
Dan’s Score – 8/10
Josh – When I first watched the trailer for Jurassic world I was psyched. I had a lot of hopes for this film. Little did I know that what I was watching was the bloody highlights of the film! Which did partially spoil the film. Yes this is done so often nowadays and I will always rant about it.
Yes being a Jurassic park film you can immediately tell the plot of the film, dinosaurs get loose, people get eaten, as the cast try to escape the island. That’s just what the films are about fair enough it’s good, however when it gets to the point you can tell who is going to get eaten and by what it just loses all of the thrill and almost horror side which made the previous films all so enjoyable.
You would think after all the deaths and accidents from the previous films they would make more safety precautions to deal with the protection of guests. nearly all the way through the film I was face palming, if there was a desk I would be slamming my face into it I mean the stupidity of characters its like they don’t realise that the dinosaurs eat people! Yes I can see them lowering the intelligence of the human characters in an attempt to make the “indominus rex” and the Raptors seem smarter but not like this! Also they know clearly state that the “indominus rex” can see thermal heat yet they still try hiding 2 inches away from it *face palm*. Also, little side note, Bryce Dallas Howard’s character, Beth somehow manages to cross all terrain from muddy grasslands to concrete while running faster then a T-Rex in high heels now I don’t wear high heels (in public) but I’m quite sure this is actually impossible. There are a lot more weird plot holes but I weld be here all day to mention them all.
Honestly I feel the whole kids characters to be slow and pointless and an attempt to copy the kids from the first movie. Also the character development was relatively poor to non-existent I mean the Nick Robinsons charter Zach’s whole thing with him staring at all the girls at the park was ridiculously boring and brought no plot development and if anything made him seem creepy. And the whole their parents getting divorced was already used in Jurassic park 3. It all just seems recycled. I will give it props to relating to the first movie at some parts to the film with the kids finding the old Jurassic park banner and driving the old Jeeps.
Though I do agree with Dan in that the first was by far the best out of the previous trilogy, however I would disagree with him in that Jurassic world is on par with the first. If anything I would say that Jurassic world has made Jurassic park look even better and they should have created more suspense in being hunted or made it seem more like a thriller.
So far I have been biting chunks out of this film, but I did enjoy it aside from all the plot holes and annoying characters it was good to watch. As mentioned by Dan when the dinosaurs were on the screen it was amazing to watch. The detail and action scenes were superb and thrilling to watch with impressive use of the surrounds such as the use of the holograms in stalling the Raptor. The magnitude of the dinosaurs are impressive and that’s exactly what I came to see, so much so I would actually like to watch it in 3D.
Josh’s Score – 6/10
Pete – Josh and Dan both bring very valid points to the table. I myself sit on the fence. As I was raised on these movies, they have a special place in my heart. They are so fondly remembered that I can’t help but watch them whenever they’re on. So perhaps my view of the latest is one of a spoilt critic with an expectation of greatness. Jurassic World lacked. It lacked the tension and the heart pumping excitement that made the classics, classic but it had throwbacks to the past that gave the sense of nostalgia. Yet here I am, with my ass on a white picket fence.
It lacked the tension for many reasons. The build was not long enough and the pay-off was a generic, predictable mess and happened instantaneously. It feels that the movie is a children’s one with an attempt to keep their minds focused on one thing for more than a few seconds without them pulling out their Iphones and playing Candy Crush. The need for the instant gratification ruins exactly what Jurassic Park is known for. Sure, the originals were PG but at the time, they were legitimate, scary thrillers. Now we have a 12A which sparks no fear or excitement. In many years time, I will show my kid(s) all of these movies and I could almost guarantee that the 4th will fade into their memory without a second glance. The only scene to really make me recoil was the abuse the kid’s guide got from a multitude of dinosaurs which was actually over zealous. Although the CGI was on point I would enjoy seeing more practical effects throughout.
Josh rightly pointed out the issue with the plot holes and this is really significant. Things are happening everywhere, but we never really finish anything up. No one talks about the women murdered by the Mosasaurus or the fucking owner of the park! The group that try to weaponise the creatures are whisked in and the need to classify information from the owner just confuses the plot even more. By claiming they have to use other creatures DNA to breed the dinosaurs, why is it that the hybrid has Raptor DNA? and why do I need to know about the childrens parents getting a divorce, how does that change anything and why is this child so fucking annoying? Among a host of continuity errors, I find myself mad that this happens so much and it was let out of the gate. Its either that the cut way to much, or more likely, they never finished. With production being back and forth for years, many ideas have floated about and some genius had the idea to smash them all into one and hope it did something. The general production suffers, not only the visuals but also the script and the music. With a script written by a child and music probably crafted prior to the film, nothing fits. Its all disjointed and doesn’t flow or create something magical and special.
I may be attacking this like a rabid dog but the reality is, this is a movie that has been created for the commercial reasons. They may claim its for the fans with a short appearance of the T-Rex but rather than targeting the original audience, you bombard them with more product placement than the Super Bowl ad break and pander to the child market so you can squeeze more money from the merchandise. Its feels cheap. As if they no longer value the franchise and want to abuse it like its into some sick dino BDSM.
There were parts I’m okay with. It was a blast to the past. It was something that I was raised on and the it has Chris Pratt in it. The rest is just a bit meh. Its one of those films that don’t stick. It lost its edge and for the love of god, stop using child actors whose character and acting suck. I feel too generous awarding it a 7 so I feel that a 6 is far more appropriate. Bring on the Lego game!
Pete’s Score – 6/10
Overall – 6.66/10