Spider-Man: No Way Home (dir. by Jon Watts)


This is basically where we are.

If you haven’t seen a film on the Thursday preview night, chances are every online publisher is going to share spoilers by Friday Evening. I get it. It’s the Nature of the Beast. It makes for news, and there are people out there who either don’t mind being spoiled or need to know what they’re seeing going into a film. It’s partially why sites like Movie Pooper, and Does The Dog Die are popular. I usually try not to say anything about a movie on Twitter because of this. Everyone deserves to feel that sense of awe and surprise when the lights come down in their cinema.

These are as spoiler free as I can make them. I may write something else to focus on my thoughts with spoilers down the road.

If you managed to stay off the Internet and avoid any spoilers to Spider-Man: No Way Home (outside of the trailers themselves), then you are in for some grand fun that is almost on the level of Avengers: Endgame. I’ve been to the theatres a few times during the pandemic. Perhaps because it was an After-Midnight showing, but the audience was fantastic. The film comes full circle, with an adventure that celebrates Spider-Man’s guest appearance in the MCU for Disney/Marvel, while still building on the character for Sony’s purposes in the future. As a Trilogy, Jon Watts and the team deserve a round of applause for sticking the landing so very well here. The third film in a series is never easy, and even Sam Raimi found that out with Spider-Man 3. By the time the movie was done, I was soaking up the applause like Colin Robinson in What We Do In the Shadows.

The film picks up right at the last end credit from Spider-Man: Far From Home with Quentin Beck’s Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) proclaiming to the world (through J. Jonah Jameson, played by J.K. Simmons as usual) that Spider-Man was in control of the Stark Drones and that he is really Peter Parker. Normally, my first thought here would be to own it – like Stark did. However, with murders tied in, it’s a bad rap for our webbed hero and anyone associated with him. Peter decides to make things right by visiting Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, Power of the Dog) to make everyone forget that Spider-Man is Peter Parker. This gets botched and pulls through some villains that our Peter (Tom Holland) isn’t quite ready for.

As you’ve seen in the posters and trailers, Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina, Spider-Man 2), and Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe, Spider-Man) along with a few others are pulled from their universe into Peter’s. When Peter discovers their fates in their own universes, he makes an attempt to save them, which puts him at odds with Doctor Strange. Can Peter find a way to change their futures, and clear his name in the process?

Of course, the gang’s all here. Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice, Marisa Tomei, and Jon Favreau are all on hand for this third one. Everyone has something to offer, with Zendaya, Batalon, and Tomei carrying the most weight. The only awkward character in the whole bunch is Favreau’s Happy Hogan, who is regulated into kind of a silly comic relief here. I don’t know. I just remember Happy being a bit more capable than they way they have him this time around.

From a writing standpoint, it’s somewhat innovative. If we didn’t already have the 2019’s Academy Award winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, I’d say No Way Home was walking into uncharted territory. The film makes up for this by allowing our Peter to choose differently, compared to what we historically know about Spider-Man and these villains. I honestly enjoyed that angle and thought it helped to drive home the whole “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility” motto that defines Spider-Man.

Musically, Michael Giacchino weaves his own form of magic here. Pulling themes both from Doctor Strange and what he’s done with the previous films, there are a number of great sequences. When all is said and done, the score for this film may very well rival Shirley Walker’s Batman: Mask of the Phantasm score for me.

At the time of this writing, it sounds like NYC is headed for another lockdown. I’m hoping that’s not the case. If this is the last movie I get to see in a theatre for a while, I’m thankful for it. Spider-Man: No Way Home completes a great handoff from Disney/Marvel to Sony. The character did what he needed for Disney/Marvel’s MCU, and Sony still holds the movie rights to the character for where they want to take him. I’m hopeful for Spider-Man’s cinematic future.

Our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man’s going to be okay.

Tom Holland is our Nathan Drake in the Uncharted Trailer!


I have really mixed feelings about the new Uncharted Movie, based on the trailer. I don’t doubt that it can be fun ride, but having finished all of the games save for the last one, I’m not completely sold on it. Still, Hollywood looks for longevity, and having a younger cast makes for more sequels. Tom Holland’s in a perfect place for this, as filing Nathan Drake’s shoes are no easy task. Mark Wahlberg isn’t the Sully I envisioned, but he should be good with the major action sequences.

Again, it’s just a trailer. The movie overall should make for a great popcorn film. I hope to cheer along.

Uncharted releases in theatres February 18, 2022.

Thinner (1996, directed by Tom Holland)


Billy Halleck (Robert John Burke, in a fat suit) is a morbidly obese attorney who might be destined to die of a heart attack but who definitely will not be serving jail time despite running over an old gypsy woman. After a corrupt judge and crooked cop, both of whom are friends of Billy’s, conspire to get Halleck acquitted, all three of them are cursed by the woman’s husband (Michael Constnatine). The judge turns into a lizard while the cop is covered in sores. Halleck, however, finally starts to lose weight! At first, he’s happy. He’s finally getting thin and all he had to do was run over an old woman! But then, he realizes that he’s never going to stop getting thinner and he’s going to just waste away.

Thinner is based on a novel by Richard Bachman, who was actually Stephen King. Like most of the Bachman books, Thinner is nastier than most of the King books. Billy is a terrible character and he deserves exactly what’s coming to him. The book is not usually listed as being one of King’s better efforts and the movie doesn’t get much love either. I’ve always liked Thinner, though. It’s like a really good episode of Tales From The Crypt, with Billy paying the price for his sins. Billy actually gets several chances to redeem himself but, because he’s such a terrible character, he keeps messing them up. Instead of begging for forgiveness, Billy hires a gangster (Joe Mantegna) to try to take out the gypsies. Even when the dead woman’s husband gives Billy a chance to escape his fate with some shred of dignity, Billy would rather go after his perceived enemies. Many bad things happen to Billy but he brings them all on himself. Even when it becomes obvious that he’s under a curse, he still thinks he can plea bargain his way out of it.  He’s a lawyer, through and through.

Thinner is frequently cartoonish and broad but that works for the story that it’s telling. Robert John Burke’s performance may not have many shadings to it but again, it’s right for the story that’s being told.  My favorite performance in the film was Joe Mantegna’s turn as the gangster and fans of Late Night Cinemax will feel a rush of nostalgia when Kari Wuhrer makes an appearance as the beautiful daughter of the woman that Billy ran over.  Thinner is a middle-tier King adaptation, neither as bad nor as good as some others. I dug it.

Here’s The Official Trailer For Spider-Man: No Way Home!


A few days ago, the trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home supposedly leaked online.  I say “supposedly” because I would honestly be shocked at the idea of anything in the world of entertainment happening without Disney somehow knowing about it beforehand.

Anyway, I held off on sharing the leaked trailer because I have integrity or something.  Or maybe I was just scared I would get sued or the site would be taken down.  I don’t know.  I held off for some reason.  But now that the trailer has been officially released …. well, here it is:

Apparently, Peter’s life has gotten difficult now that the world knows that he’s Spider-Man.  Since Tony Stark is dead and Robert Downey, Jr. would probably demand too much money to play Tony’s hitherto unknown twin brother, Peter decides to get a new bearded mentor but, in typical Peter fashion, he screws up Dr. Strange’s spell by talking too much and soon, universes are literally colliding.

If I sound like I’m being snarky, that’s just the way I always sound.  I love these movies in all of their occasionally silly glory and I’m really looking forward to Spider-Man: No Way Home.  I really enjoyed the previous two movies and this trailer is certainly more entertaining than the one that dropped for The Eternals.  I actually think that Tom Holland and Benedict Cumberbatch have the potential to be a pretty good team.  Plus, I know a lot of our readers are probably really excited about Alfred Molina showing up there at the end.  Will the other Spider-Men make an appearance?  We’ll find out soon.

The Washington D.C. Film Critics Honor Wonder Woman 1984!


 

Well, the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics did pick Wonder Woman 1984 as being the best 2020 cinematic depiction of life in Washington D.C.

However, Nomadland won best picture.  Chloe Zhao picked up best director.  Frances McDormand won best actress.  In fact, to be honest, it was pretty much the same films and people who have been winning the majority of the prizes since award season began.  That’s not a complaint, mind you.  It’s just that, when the same film keeps winning over and over again, it makes you appreciate things like Wonder Woman 1984 picking up an award for being the best cinematic depiction of life in Washington D.C.

Here are the winners from our nation’s capital:

Best Film
First Cow
Minari
Nomadland
One Night in Miami…
Promising Young Woman

Best Director
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Regina King – One Night in Miami…
Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed – Sound Of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Steven Yeun – Minari

Best Actress
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces Of A Woman
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Elisabeth Moss – The Invisible Man
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

Best Supporting Actor
Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial Of The Chicago 7
Daniel Kaluuya – Judas And The Black Messiah
Bill Murray – On The Rocks
Leslie Odom, Jr. – One Night in Miami…
Paul Raci – Sound Of Metal

Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Olivia Colman – The Father
Dominique Fishback – Judas And The Black Messiah
Amanda Seyfried – Mank
Yuh-Jung Youn – Minari

Best Acting Ensemble
Da 5 Bloods
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Minari
One Night in Miami…
The Trial Of The Chicago 7

Best Youth Performance
Millie Bobby Brown – Enola Holmes
Sidney Flanigan – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Alan Kim – Minari
Talia Ryder – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Helena Zengel – News Of The World

Best Voice Performance
Tina Fey – Soul
Jamie Foxx – Soul
Tom Holland – Onward
Honor Kneafsey – Wolfwalkers
Octavia Spencer – Onward

Best Original Screenplay
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Andy Siara – Palm Springs
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Darius Marder & Abraham Marder – Sound Of Metal
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial Of The Chicago 7

Best Adapted Screenplay
Jon Raymond & Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking Of Ending Things
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
Kemp Powers – One Night in Miami…

Best Animated Feature
The Croods: A New Age
Onward
Over the Moon
Soul
Wolfwalkers

Best Documentary
Boys State
Collective
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
Dick Johnson Is Dead
Time

Best International/Foreign Language Film
Another Round
Bacurau
La Llorona
Night of the Kings
The Mole Agent

Best Production Design
Emma.
Mank
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
News Of The World
Tenet

Best Cinematography
Newton Thomas Sigel – Da 5 Bloods
Erik Messerschmidt – Mank
Dariusz Wolski – News Of The World
Joshua James Richards – Nomadland
Hoyte van Hoytema – Tenet

Best Editing
Kirk Baxter – Mank
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
Mikkel E. G. Nielsen – Sound Of Metal
Jennifer Lame – Tenet
Alan Baumgarten – The Trial Of The Chicago 7

Best Original Score
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Mank
Emile Mosseri – Minari
James Newton Howard – News Of The World
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross & Jon Batiste – Soul
Ludwig Göransson – Tenet

The Joe Barber Award for Best Portrayal of Washington, DC
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
The Fight
Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President
John Lewis: Good Trouble
Wonder Woman 1984

Here Are The Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Nominations!


Yesterday, the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association announced their nominees for the best of the year.  After it was snubbed by both the Golden Globes and SAG, it’s nice to see at least one group acknowledging First Cow.  (Actually, a lot of groups have been acknowledging First Cow.  I just worry it’s the type of film that will player better with critics than with Oscar voters.  Which is a shame because it’s a great film!)

The winners will be announced on February 8th …. which is tomorrow!  Here are the nominees:

Best Film
First Cow
Minari
Nomadland
One Night in Miami…
Promising Young Woman

Best Director
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Regina King – One Night in Miami…
Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed – Sound Of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Steven Yeun – Minari

Best Actress
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces Of A Woman
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Elisabeth Moss – The Invisible Man
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

Best Supporting Actor
Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial Of The Chicago 7
Daniel Kaluuya – Judas And The Black Messiah
Bill Murray – On The Rocks
Leslie Odom, Jr. – One Night in Miami…
Paul Raci – Sound Of Metal

Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Olivia Colman – The Father
Dominique Fishback – Judas And The Black Messiah
Amanda Seyfried – Mank
Yuh-Jung Youn – Minari

Best Acting Ensemble
Da 5 Bloods
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Minari
One Night in Miami…
The Trial Of The Chicago 7

Best Youth Performance
Millie Bobby Brown – Enola Holmes
Sidney Flanigan – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Alan Kim – Minari
Talia Ryder – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Helena Zengel – News Of The World

Best Voice Performance
Tina Fey – Soul
Jamie Foxx – Soul
Tom Holland – Onward
Honor Kneafsey – Wolfwalkers
Octavia Spencer – Onward

Best Original Screenplay
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Andy Siara – Palm Springs
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Darius Marder & Abraham Marder – Sound Of Metal
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial Of The Chicago 7

Best Adapted Screenplay
Jon Raymond & Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking Of Ending Things
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
Kemp Powers – One Night in Miami…

Best Animated Feature
The Croods: A New Age
Onward
Over the Moon
Soul
Wolfwalkers

Best Documentary
Boys State
Collective
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
Dick Johnson Is Dead
Time

Best International/Foreign Language Film
Another Round
Bacurau
La Llorona
Night of the Kings
The Mole Agent

Best Production Design
Emma.
Mank
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
News Of The World
Tenet

Best Cinematography
Newton Thomas Sigel – Da 5 Bloods
Erik Messerschmidt – Mank
Dariusz Wolski – News Of The World
Joshua James Richards – Nomadland
Hoyte van Hoytema – Tenet

Best Editing
Kirk Baxter – Mank
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
Mikkel E. G. Nielsen – Sound Of Metal
Jennifer Lame – Tenet
Alan Baumgarten – The Trial Of The Chicago 7

Best Original Score
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Mank
Emile Mosseri – Minari
James Newton Howard – News Of The World
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross & Jon Batiste – Soul
Ludwig Göransson – Tenet

The Joe Barber Award for Best Portrayal of Washington, DC
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
The Fight
Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President
John Lewis: Good Trouble
Wonder Woman 1984

The Films of 2020: Dolittle (dir by Stephen Gaghan)


Dolittle tells the story of Dr. Dolittle (Robert Downey, Jr.), the eccentric doctor who can talk to the animals and who hasn’t had much use for humans ever since the tragic death of his wife, Lily (Kasia Smutniak).  Dolittle would be happy to just spend his entire life locked away in his estate, talking to Poly the Parrot (voice of Emma Thompson) and Chee-Chee the Gorilla (voice of Rami Malek) and all of the other animals but Dolitle has to eventually leave his home because otherwise, there wouldn’t be a movie.

When Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley) is mysteriously taken ill, only Dolittle can save her.  Dolittle quickly realizes that the Queen has been poisoned and that the only cure for the poison is to be found on a tree that’s located on an island that no one has ever seen before.  Soon, Dolittle and the animals are sailing in search of the island.  Accompanying them is Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett), a sensitive teen who hates to hunt and who hopes to become Dolittle’s apprentice.  Pursuing Dolittle is the evil Dr. Blair Mudfly (Michael Sheen), who went to college with Dolittle and who is in cahoots with the conspirators who are trying to do away with Queen Victoria.

Got all of that?  I hope so because we haven’t even gotten to the dragon with a set of bagpipes crammed up her ass.  Yes, you read that correctly.

Last year, Dolittle was one of the few major studio productions to actually get a wide release before COVID-19 closed down all the theaters.  It was released in January, which is traditionally the time when studios release the films that they hope everyone will have forgotten about by the time April rolls around.  January is traditionally the month when studios release the films that they know aren’t any good.  And, indeed, the reviews of Dolittle were overwhelmingly negative.  Not only did the critics hate Dolittle but audiences were also rather unenthusiastic and the film bombed at the box office.  Indeed, under normal circumstances, the reaction to Dolittle and its subsequent box office failure would be considered one of the year’s biggest disasters.  However, 2020 was a year of disasters.  Compared to everything else that ended up happening over the past 12 months, Dolittle’s lukewarm reception seems almost quaint now.

Earlier today, I finally watched Dolittle on HBOMax.  I was expecting the film to be terrible but it’s actually not quite as bad as I had been led to believe.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  Dolittle has a ton of problems.  The tone is all over the place as the film tries to mix cartoonish humor with thrilling adventure in a style that owes more to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise than it does to Dr. Dolittle.  Despite a few self-consciously manic moments, Robert Downey, Jr. seems remarkably bored in the lead role.  Many of the jokes fall flat and the awkward attempts to shoehorn the usual message of “be true to yourself” into the film just felt awkward.  That said, the CGI animals were cute enough to hold my interest and that’s really the most important thing when it comes to a film like Dolittle.  Cute animals — even computer generated ones — help to make up for a lot of flaws.

Dolittle’s final scene hints at a sequel or even a franchise.  Considering the reaction to the first film, I doubt we’ll get a second.  I do think Dr. Dolittle could make for an enjoyable PIXAR film but it might be time to give the live action adaptations a rest.

4 Shots From 4 Films: The Craft, From Dusk Till Dawn, Scream, Thinner


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1996 Horror Films

The Craft (1996, dir by Andrew Fleming)

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996, dir by Robert Rodriguez)

Scream (1996, dir by Wes Craven)

Thinner (1996, dir by Tom Holland)

4 Shots From 4 Films: Child’s Play, Faceless, The Lair of the White Worm, Night of the Demons


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1988 Horror Films

Child’s Play (1988, dir by Tom Holland)

Faceless (1988, dir by Jess Franco)

The Lair Of The White Worm (1988, dir by Ken Russell)

Night of the Demons (1988, dir by Kevin Tenney)

Spider-Man Meets Mysterio In The New Spider-Man: Far From Home Trailer


The new trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home opens with a warning from Tom Holland.  Do not watch this trailer if you have not seen Avengers: Endgame and you want to avoid spoilers.  It should also go without saying that, if you are avoiding Endgame spoilers, do not read any further on this post.

Spoilers below:

Judging from the trailer, Spider-Man: Far From Home finds Peter Parker mourning the loss of his mentor, Tony Stark.  Looking to get away from the pressures of crime fighting and saving the world and also wanting to pursue his crush on Zendaya’s MJ, Peter joins his classmates on a trip to Europe.  Were all of Peter’s classmates from Spider-Man: Homecoming wiped out by the Snap?  According to Avengers: Endgame, bringing everyone back did not change anything that happened over the previous five years.  Peter got lucky that MJ apparently wasn’t around to graduate high school and move away while he was non-existent.

Peter may want to escape from it all but Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury has other ideas.  Judging from the trailer, it appears that Peter has replaced Tony with three new mentors, Nick Fury, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau, making the transition over from the Iron Man films), and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio.  Of course, anyone who is familiar with Mysterio’s history knows that Peter should be careful about trusting him.

The trailer also introduces the concept of the Multiverse.  With all the questions that Endgame raised about time travel and alternate realities, the Multiverse is surely going to be an important factor moving forward.  For instance, it may explain how there’s both a Loki TV show and a Black Widow movie in production when both of those characters were apparently very dead at the end of Avengers: Endgame.

Spider-Man: Far From Home opens on July 2nd.