Comic book superhero movies: sick of them yet?
A lot of people are. Sure, there are those superhero movies that not everyone realized were based on comics (Barb Wire, Tank Girl, The Crow, Judge Dredd, Hellboy, 300, Mystery Men, etc.) but for all intents and purposes, it's the recent flood of Marvel and DC comic-based superhero movies that has filmgoers rolling their eyes—there's been more than 60 of those made since the year 2000.
And six of them were Spider-Man films, but don't let that discourage you from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, an animated breath of fresh air that's opening this week at the Whistler Village 8. Spider-Verse is one of the most entertaining superhero flicks ever and makes a strong argument that Marvel and DC should give up on their live action, uber-expensive shitstorms of CGI and spectacle and return to the purest form of translating comic panels to the screen: animation.
Into the Spider-Verse focuses on Miles Morales, a black/Latino teen Marvel introduced in the comics a few years ago as an alternate Spider-Man in an alternate universe. Miles starts along the traditional Spider-Man origin story except, thanks to hulking crime boss Kingpin unleashing some comic-book-y technology for ill purposes, Miles' universe begins mashing into the regular Spider-Man universe.
He meets an adult Peter Parker/Spider-Man and begins to learn the ropes. But Kingpin's machine created a rift/portal into a shit-ton of other universes, and each has its own version of Spider-Man. So there's a Spider-Man that is a Japanese girl, a Noir Spider-Man (voiced by Nic Cage!), a Gwen Stacy Spider-Man (she was Peter Parker's first girlfriend) and even Spider-Ham (a Pig Spider-Man from an old parody comic called What The?!). Spider-Ham rules because while a radioactive spider created all the other renditions, he is actually a spider that was bitten by a radioactive pig!
The result is a fresh superhero movie, beautifully animated with poppy colours, perfect character design and motion, and real comic book graphic elements like on-screen thought bubbles and visualized "thwip, twip" sound effects of Spidey's web-shooters.
It's swift, snappy, and nonstop fun. And it actually feels like a comic book come to life. Director Bob Persichetti (best known for The Little Prince) shares directorial duties with Into the Spider-Verse screenwriters Phil Lord (The Lego Movie) and Rodney Rothman (the upcoming 23 Jump Street). Together they've crafted the most exciting superhero movie since The Dark Knight. Don't sleep on the Spider-Verse.
On the opposite end of the cinematic spectrum, Clint Eastwood has a new flick out. The Mule also opens this week at the Village 8. Hats off to Clint for still cranking out films at age 88. He also stars in this one, which seems to be about a back-to-the-wall senior citizen caught up in a drug-smuggling scheme who has to re-evaluate what's important in life, just as his life careens out of control.
There were no pre-screeners for this one, but Eastwood has long proven that even at his crappiest, he can still weave a story and The Mule sees him reteam with writer Nick Schenk (Gran Torino) alongside a stacked cast that includes Laurence Fishburne, Bradley Cooper, Michael Pena and his own daughter Alison Eastwood (who slayed in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil).
In the future, this is the kind of film that will go straight to streaming/on demand while the superhero/spectacle dominate what movie theatres can stay open, but for now, it looks like a tense drama-thriller option for anyone who wants to avoid superheroes and holiday fare.
Speaking of, Universal Pictures is getting into the spirit of the season (money! remakes!) and launching a new The Grinch re-telling. With Despicable Me-style animation, an updated "urban" soundtrack, new tech and (?) a yak, this Grinch flick looks like a watered-down version of the diabolic fiend we all know and love.
Because our collective skin is so thin these days that we can't even handle the OG Grinch? (Incidentally, doesn't it seem like way more people are worried about the song "Baby It's Cold Outside" than actual people who are cold outside? It's a good time of year to donate food/clothing to your local food bank/community services...just sayin'.)
And that's it. Next week, another sequel (Mary Poppins Returns) and more superheroes (Aquaman), go Hollywood go!