Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018) Review

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

Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman

Story by Phil Lord

Based on Miles Morales by Brian Michael Bendis & Sara Pichelli

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

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his reality and crosses paths with his counterparts from other dimensions to stop a threat to all reality.

My Opinion:

Wow. This film was pretty damn great. I’d seen so much hype for this online so didn’t know what to expect as movies rarely live up to their hype for me. Plus, I’m not a huge comic book/superhero movie fan other than thinking they’re enjoyable but forgettable fun. This movie lives up to the hype. I can only imagine how Spider-Man comic fans feel, though – they certainly seem to be in love with this. As someone who isn’t a fan, I’m happy to hear that since I think I kind of loved this film as well. And I certainly have a new favorite version of Spider-Man himself! Well, a few favorites…

I’m going to keep this super short as it’s Christmastime and I’m sick and I have a lot going on. I never like to say too much about these superhero films anyway as I have zero knowledge of the source material. All I know is that I’ve seen all the movie adaptations they’ve done for this character and I easily had the most fun with this version. I adored Miles Morales and thought his relationships with all the other characters in this (such as his father, his uncle & Gwen) were very strong. This movie had far more heart than other adaptations and I bought into these characters far more than in other versions. Plus, seeing different versions of Spider-Man from different dimensions was cool as shit.

The humor all worked perfectly, the New York setting was amazing and I loved that Miles is a graffiti artist and this is yet another movie that made me want to visit New York, the unique animation style was a real treat, the Stan Lee cameo made me want to cry but it was beautiful, and the scene after the credits is BRILLIANT! Loved it. I thoroughly enjoyed absolutely everything about this movie and, as I said, I’m not even a big superhero fan. I’d highly recommend this movie to anyone.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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Bumblebee (2018) Review

Bumblebee (2018)

Directed by Travis Knight

Based on Transformers by Hasbro

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
On the run in the year of 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this review short: Bumblebee was fun. It’s a lot better than those stupid Michael Bay Transformers movies but, hell, it wouldn’t take much to top those. It’s not up there with Steven Spielberg’s family films of the Eighties, though, which I’ve seen Bumblebee compared to. No way. It’s a fun family “popcorn” movie but I wasn’t exactly blown away. (Sorry)

First of all, I’ll say that I’m not a Transformers fan in the slightest so this review is from someone with almost no Transformers knowledge whatsoever. Second of all, I’ll say that I’m damn old so I loved that this is set in 1987. I’m a sucker for anything set in the Eighties since that’s when I grew up. Thirdly, I’m now going to moan about the ways in which they got the Eighties wrong (although the director is my age but I’m assuming he didn’t have full say on all the 80’s stuff that got crammed in).

I liked Hailee Steinfeld’s character in this and of course loved that the lead was a teenage girl (like me in the Eighties). So I could relate to her at times but she’s also a bit too much “ideal Eighties girl” with all her heavy metal t-shirts & dark eyeliner. I was a metalhead in the late 80s (as were most Midwestern teens) but I didn’t own one metal t-shirt. That’s not how girls tended to dress. And we didn’t wear eyeliner in that way. And… I’m sorry but there’s no way a girl wearing a Motörhead t-shirt back then would also be listening to The Smiths. Not as a teen, anyway. The Smiths were the whiny shit you got into once you went to college. (For the record, I do like both metal & The Smiths but as a teen you tended to stick to one genre so you wouldn’t be an outcast).

And don’t even get me started on Rick Fucking Astley!!! News flash for non-80s kids: We didn’t like Rick Astley. He wasn’t some big thing. I know no one who bought a Rick Astley album. AND NO ONE WEARING A MOTÖRHEAD T-SHIRT WOULD BE CAUGHT DEAD WITH A RICK ASTLEY CASSETTE!!! There. Music rant over. The music choices for this soundtrack were mostly too damn obvious but I was pleased to hear some songs (Hooray for Tears For Fears). Oh, one more rant: The Smiths are okay but I can only take so much of their music so can we stop having moody teens listening to them in movies? Has Hollywood not gotten the memo that Morrissey is a bit of a twat now anyway? You know whose music doesn’t get annoying?? The Cure. The Cure are far superior and not so cliché so, hey Hollywood, how about having your moody teens be fans of The Cure instead? From someone who lived through that decade, this is actually more realistic.

As for the other 80’s clichés in this film, I guess it’s not as bad as I was thinking as I was so distracted by the music thing. Hailee Steinfeld really didn’t look at all like an 80’s teen despite them giving her some silly bangs (a fringe to you UK readers). I suppose they didn’t want her to look ridiculous. But the “mean girl bitch” looked so Eighties it hurt. No one really looked like her back then, either – normal teens were somewhere between these two girls. Maybe I should talk about the actual movie??

Bumblebee is a good character. I totally want him as a friend but I think I just prefer robots to humans as I also want to hang out with WALL-E & R2-D2. So I really enjoyed this friendship and, yes, it’s a feelgood family movie. We need more of those! There’s also plenty of action, which should keep Transformers fans happy (I assume). There’s actually more action than I expected from the trailers, which made it look like simply a warm & fuzzy friendship movie. There’s a full-out war on their home planet or whatever, though. There’s also a cute almost-romance with a neighbor boy (who doesn’t at all look like he’s living in the 80s). Meh. I don’t know. I have a terrible cold at the moment! God I hate winter. This movie was fine. It’s a popcorn movie. I’d probably enjoy it more in the summertime… I’m just super grumpy at this time of year.

My Rating: 7/10

I’m going to finally review Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse later today, which is a contender for my favorite film of 2018 (even though I saw it in cold weather). I never expected that!

The Edge Of Seventeen (2016) Review

The Edge Of Seventeen (2016)

Directed by Kelly Fremon Craig

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Hayden Szeto, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.

My Opinion:

Yes! Another funny, well-written, smart “teen movie”. I reviewed The DUFF last week, which I really enjoyed despite my teen years being far far behind me, and commented that I hoped more teen movies would go in that direction as I do still enjoy a good one. Trust me – no matter how old you are you never forget high school. It’s a traumatic time! I think I’ll forever feel like it was only yesterday that I finally graduated & escaped that f*^king place.

So, yeah – I wasn’t exactly the Homecoming Queen and I could totally relate to Hailee Steinfeld’s self-loathing, angst-filled, neurotic nutjob in The Edge Of Seventeen. Hubby was like “I think she may be even more messed up than you!”. Hahaha! Nice. Funny. Seriously, though – I’d have been friends with this character as a teen. Okay, I lie – I WAS this character (but not as crazy – Holy shit, Steinfeld’s character is HIGH MAINTENANCE!).

For those who may get annoyed by phoney teen angst movies, don’t automatically avoid this one. This is teen angst done right. It has the right balance of humor & of more serious issues. Think a cross between The DUFF (pure comedy) and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (fantastic but a little too serious). The characters come across as genuine and I think it will speak to an audience of all ages from 15 or so & up. I do think certain teen films nowadays are written by people my age (like Perks), which is cool as it means people my age end up liking them but I’m not sure if they all work for actual modern teens. I think The Edge Of Seventeen avoids this problem. I can see a lot of friends my age liking this and, judging by the laughs & reactions of the much younger crowd in my cinema who made me feel very old, the younger generation seemed to be enjoying it a lot as well. I can find very little information on this film’s writer & director, Kelly Fremon Craig, but I’d hazard a guess that she’s written a bit of herself into these characters? I could be wrong but writing from experience often seems to make the most believable characters & she’s done an excellent job here. I’ll happily watch more of her work! Hopefully the positive buzz from this film is getting her noticed.

Just a quick FYI: the language & situations make this one not suitable for pre & early teens. It’s rated 15 in the UK and I think it’s rated R in the US?? Typical uptight America – R is too strict for this & means that 15 & 16 year-olds are missing out on a good movie. Maybe they should’ve added some guns & violence as opposed to swearing & sex talk, huh? Then it would be rated G in America! I’ve often thought the American rating system needs a rating in the middle, like a UK 15, which I think is the right sort of rating for this one. Sorry for the mini-rant… 😉 Back to the movie!

Besides Hailee Steinfeld’s darkly humorous unhappy teen, we have her parents and a very rocky relationship with her mother, her best friend who suddenly starts dating her attractive & popular brother who gets on her nerves, her crush, her teacher, and a boy who has a crush on her. They’re all great but the two stand-outs are Hayden Szeto as the adorably awkward boy with a crush on her and Woody Harrelson as the doesn’t-give-a-fuck teacher she confides in (probably due to seeing a bit of her own pessimistic attitude in him).

The chemistry between Steinfeld’s & Harrelson’s characters is great and I loved their complexity. There’s no sappy “teacher gives student meaningful life lesson” bullshit going on here. In fact, they speak quite horribly to each other & it’s hilarious. You can tell that, despite clearly thinking she’s a pain in the ass, Harrelson’s character also has a huge soft spot for this fucked-up kid. Both of these characters are two of the absolute best I’ve seen in a film this year and are why this shouldn’t be dismissed due to being a “teen movie”. Oh, and Hayden Szeto’s character with a crush on Steinfeld is probably the most likable character in a film this year. He’s hilariously, awkwardly adorable. Who is this guy?? He’s been in hardly anything! Put him in more movies! I’d have totally loved having a boy like him have a crush on me in high school. Damn you, Steinfeld – he’s a sweetheart. Date him! It’s like Molly Ringwald not wanting Jon Cryer in Pretty In Pink! Man, teenage girls are idiots sometimes. Anyway – Hayden Szeto, Woody Harrelson, and Hailee Steinfeld are all amazing in this but probably won’t get recognition due to the film being part of the teen genre.

Summary:

I’ve rambled on about this movie long enough. I’ve realized now that my saying this is something in between The DUFF & The Perks Of Being A Wallflower isn’t quite accurate. The Edge Of Seventeen is more like The Way Way Back with a girl instead of a boy as the central character & Harrelson filling the Sam Rockwell role in this one (their characters are quite different personality-wise but equally fantastic). I feel that teen movies get dismissed, especially if a girl is the central character, but this movie deserves recognition. If you liked The Way Way Back (I loved that one), you should like this one as well no matter what age or sex you are. Movies like these give me hope that maybe some modern teenagers will turn out alright after all & I appreciate filmmakers who credit them with some intelligence & don’t dumb their movies down for them. I still remember being a teen & I like to think I wasn’t a total idiot. And anyone who says they didn’t have a hard time in high school is a liar. Teen angst is real, people! I’m happy to say that The Edge Of Seventeen handles the angst in a realistic, humorous, and at times heartbreaking fashion.

My Rating: 8/10

You know I gotta end this with the brilliant Stevie Nicks song from my own teen years, which is not in this movie whatsoever. Wait – I wasn’t a teen yet when this was released… I just added several years onto my age there! Oops. Whatever. I love this song. 🙂

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) Review

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Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

Directed by Elizabeth Banks

Starring:
Anna Kendrick
Rebel Wilson
Brittany Snow
Hailee Steinfeld
Skylar Astin
Adam DeVine
Hana Mae Lee
Alexis Knapp
Ester Dean
Chrissie Fit
Anna Camp
John Michael Higgins
Elizabeth Banks

Running time: 115 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After a humiliating command performance at Lincoln Center, the Barden Bellas enter an international competition that no American group has ever won in order to regain their status and right to perform.

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My Opinion:

Movies like this aren’t really my type of thing, although I did think the first Pitch Perfect wasn’t too bad (review HERE – I gave it 7/10). I haven’t really liked many silly, cheesy comedies since the Eighties and find the ones aimed at teens/twentysomethings especially obnoxious these days. Plus I absolutely HATE things like Glee! I’m a big music fan & having to hear really good songs get mutilated & turned to shit always annoys me. Oh – they’ve done a song by A Tribe Called Quest in Pitch Perfect 2? Okay – I guess that makes Pitch Perfect really cool! (No, it doesn’t. I’m being a smart ass. Maybe not obvious in text). 😉

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I’m doing it again! I’m making it sound like I hated a movie when I didn’t! Pitch Perfect 2 is okay. If you liked the first one, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll like the second one. I mean, it’s the exact same film again (but with a weaker overall story). We have all the same characters again (with the addition of Hailee Steinfeld, who really added nothing to the movie & was only there to make sense of the final “twist” of sorts). Rebel Wilson is as Rebel Wilsony as always (she’s just as “love her or hate her” as Melissa McCarthy, although I’d have to say I maybe prefer her slightly to McCarthy but I sure as shit don’t love either of them). I was very happy that the crazy, quiet girl was in this again (Lilly) as she was my favorite thing from the first film. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get as many funny lines as in the first one and there’s no big “puke angel” moment (which I actually found hilarious although I did appreciate the lack of puke in Part 2).

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I think the most unfortunate thing about this film is that they seemed to not know what to do with Anna Kendrick’s character. She was by far the main star of the first movie so they tried to give her a “main character” storyline in this one but it felt really fake & forced. It just didn’t work – her character’s story (although cliché & predictable) was far more interesting in the first one. I found I “cared” about the characters much less in the sequel. These movies feel a lot like the 21 & 22 Jump Street movies to me. The first movie is the superior film with the much better story while the second one ramps up the humor and is actually more funny but is the weaker film as it just does the same thing again but not quite as well. I do like the Pitch Perfects a little more than the Jump Streets, though. It could be because I’m a girl who does still enjoy a girly popcorn movie when I’m in the right mood but I think, as the Pitch Perfects are more “female aimed”, they get a little less credit for being funny. Women can’t be funny, right?! Bullshit! Yes we can and things like Bridesmaids have proven that we can be just as disgustingly vulgar as men (although I’m not a fan of that film in the same way I’m not a fan of shit like The Hangover – I see the “girl” movie as being the superior one between those two, though). I did get a few chuckles out of both Pitch Perfects, which is rare for me. I especially like the un-PC jokes they’re able to get away with & loved the way Elizabeth Bank’s character laughed at the thought of Americans winning an international competition since everyone “hates us” (sorry – being an American living outside America I can confirm how true this is!).

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Speaking of Elizabeth Banks, I’m a fan of hers although I know she’d make some people’s Annoying Actresses lists. I’m not sure why some people don’t like her as I find her funny in her comedy roles but also think she does a decent job in other sorts of roles (she’s very good in the Hunger Games films). Anyway, I’m glad she’s had success directing this film & think she’s done a fine job here. The film does what it needs to do. It’s not exactly groundbreaking but it’ll certainly keep fans of the first film happy. Good job, Elizabeth Banks, and hooray for female directors!

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Summary:

Pitch Perfect 2 is really just Pitch Perfect 1 with less puking. What sequel tops the original, though? (Don’t answer that – I know some have). The story is weaker but the jokes are slightly more funny. If you loved the first one, you’ll love the second one but I think you’d have to watch the first one before seeing this to be able to buy into the characters as they’re far more developed in the first film. I wouldn’t say that you’d have to rush out to the cinema to see this but that’s probably just me as everyone clearly DID rush out to see this as it apparently beat the far superior Mad Max: Fury Road at the box office in America. Seriously?! This is why other countries hate us! Lol. Anyway, I did like this just fine although I’d have been just as happy watching it at home in my Snoopy pajamas. I know I sounded negative but I’m probably just trying to make excuses for my liking these movies okay as they’re not normally my type of thing. When did I become such a snob? They’re fun movies even if the cheesy singing does get in the way a bit.

My Rating: 6/10

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For all the young people who watch Pitch Perfect 2: