Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Lois Lee to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-ness of “Mary Poppins Returns,” the Transformers prequel “Bumblebee,” the underwater adventures of “Aquaman” and Natalie Portman as a pop star in “Vox Lux.”
The “Transformers” franchise revs up the engine for the sixth time in eleven years with a movie that feels fresh out of the body shop. Pimping the Ride this time out is director Travis Knight, founder of LAIKA studios and director of the wonderful animated fantasy “Kubo and the Two Strings.” Knight puts his own stamp on it, doing away with most of former franchise mastermind Michael Bay’s bombast in favour of a more humanistic approach.
That’s right, “Bumblebee” is a special effects driven story starring a talking robot car that emphasizes the story’s less mechanical aspects.
The action begins with a battle on Cybertron between the Autobots—the rebellious bots—and the evil Decepticons. To save themselves the Autobots, including scout B-127 (Dylan O’Brien), make a run for it, scattering across the galaxy. “We will fight on,” declares Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen), “but we must find safety first.”
B-127 lands on earth, only to be found by a Decepticon operative who disables his vocal processors and damages his memory chip. Beat-up and alone, the robot car hides in open sight at a junkyard as a yellow 1967 Volkswagen Beetle. He’s destined for the car crusher until teenager Charlie Watson (Steinfeld) rescues him from rusting away in her uncle’s junkyard, nicknames him Bumblebee and applies some tender loving care to his dented metal and dusty interior. Charlie and her late father were car nuts who spent their time together refurbishing an old Camaro. Since his sudden death she has worn the sadness of her father’s passing like a shroud.
When she switches on the car for the first time she inadvertently sends a signal to the Decepticons setting into motion an invasion of earth. Enter the military who initially co-operate with the Decepticons, hoping to garner some space age technology tips from the alien beings. “He’s a machine,” snarls Agent Burns (John Cena). “He’s more human than you’ll ever be,” replies Charlie.
I wouldn’t call “Bumblebee” restrained by any stretch but it feels positively Bergmen-esque compared to Michael Bay’s five loud ‘n proud instalments. Bay’s “Transformers” left viewers with scorched eyes and ringing ears. “Bumblebee” does have giant action scenes but it doesn’t forget to spend time with Charlie and her family, mom (Pamela Adlon), bratty brother Otis (Jason Drucker), stepfather Roy (Lenny Jacobson) and neighbour Memo (Jorge Lendborg Jr.). The main relationship, however, is between Charlie and a big chunk of metal.
That relationship is the film’s beating heart. “Bumblebee” is not just a tale of good vs. evil; it’s a story of how friendship can mend a broken heart. Set in 1987, this is a throwback to 80s movies like “ET” that paired kids with fantastical creatures with heart warming results. Knight pulls it off, creating a believable relationship between the two. Bumblebee’s eyes—or at least in the blue bulbs that substitute for his eyes—radiate wonder and tenderness. That’s quite a trick to pull off in an action movie.
“Bumblebee” is a welcome change of pace for the “Transformers” series. Knight brings tenderness, humour—“They literally call themselves Decepticons,” says Agent Burns. “How is that NOT a red flag?”—and action that owes more to the style of the 80s era “Transformers” cartoons and Amblin films than Bay’s bombast.
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the historical betrayals of “Mary Queen of Scots,” the cortex boiling animation of “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” and the drug addiction drama of “Ben is Back.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the wild and webby “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse,” the political drama of “Mary Queen of Scots” and the Julia Roberts’s drug drama “Ben is Back.”
Can’t get enough Spider-Man? Check out “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse,” a mega-origin story that features not one, not two but at least seven iterations of the web slinging superhero.
Before a radioactive spider bit Miles Morales (voice of Shameik Moore) he was a half-Puerto Rican and half-African-American, Brooklyn born student with loving parents. Post bite, his world goes topsy-turvy. Unable to control his brand-new powers—he sticks to everyone and everything like glue—he needs help. Enter the real Spider-Man (Jake Johnson) who asks the younger Spider-Man to combat crime lord Kingpin (Liev Schreiber).
The evil genius doesn’t have superpowers but he does have a machine called a Collider with the power to tear the world apart. “It’s a hell of a freakin’ light show,” Kingpin cackles. “You’ll love this.” When Kingpin hits the Collider’s on switch the various portals between Spider-Verse open, sweeping alternate Spider-People including Peter B. Parker (Johnson again), a “junky, old, broke-down hobo Spider Man,” Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), an anthropomorphic animal parody of Spider-Man, Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), a Japanese-American middle school student, adopted by Aunt May and Uncle Ben and Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), a hard-bitten Raymond Chandler-esque type, into Miles’s world. The inter-dimensional Peter B. becomes a mentor of sorts to Miles—“Disinfect the mask,” he advises. “Use talcum powder. You don’t want chaffing.”—teaching his the tricks of the superhero trade. “You’re like the Spider-Man I don’t want to be,” Miles says to the frayed around the edges Peter. “I don’t think you have a choice kiddo,” Peter B. replies.
Before shutting off the Supercollider and saving the world Miles must sends the other Spider-types back to their realms or they will disintegrate.
“Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” is a cortex-boiling hit of boffo superhero theatrics. Visually it’s a pop art explosion, paying tribute, in its more restrained moments, to the work of original Spider-Man artist Steve Ditko. In the climatic multiverse showdown, however, it’s as if M.C. Escher and Roy Lichtenstein did acid and conceived a psychedelic freak-out that mixes and matches op art, anime and everything in between. It doesn’t look like any other superhero film you’ve ever seen. It’s wild and woolly, a pastiche of styles formed into one seamless whole.
It’s fresh and funny, and yes, there is a Stan Lee cameo, but despite the eye-catching animation and the flippant time of the script, there is substance; the film has a point. “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” is a coming-of-age story for Miles who must tap into his inner strength to succeed. Uncle Ben’s quote, “With great power comes great responsibility,” comes up in the film’s multiple origin stories but is amended to reflect that great power also comes with an awareness of self. “Anyone can wear the mask,” Miles says. “If you didn’t know that before I hope you know it now.” It’s a message about finding the greatness within whether you can shoot webs from your wrists or not. In a tweet the day Stan Lee died Seth Rogen wrote, “Thank you Stan Lee for making people who feel different realize they are special.” Lee didn’t write “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” but his powerful, personal message of self worth is alive and well here.
Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” the coming-of-age story “Edge of Seventeen” and Miles Teller as real life boxer Vinny Paz in “Bleed for This.”
Richard sits in with Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” the coming-of-age story “Edge of Seventeen,” Miles Teller as real life boxer Vinny Paz in “Bleed for This” and “Nocturnal Animals” with Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal.
“The Edge of Seventeen” is a contemporary coming of age story that feels like a throw back to the John Hughes films of the 1980s. Think “Sixteen Candles” and “Pretty in Pink” with an updated soundtrack and you get the idea.
Hailee Steinfeld is Nadine, a dramatic seventeen-year-old who thinks the world is divided into two camps, those who are winners and exude confidence in those who want to blow those people up. Her handsome brother Darian (Blake Jenner) falls into the former camp, she into the latter. Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), Nadine’s oldest (and only) friend is her emotional support and sounding board until one drunken night when something unspeakable happens—Krista and Darian hook up. The relationship drives a wedge between the two BFFs—“ You can’t have both. Its me or him. Pick,” Nadine demands.—and Nadine finds herself on the outside at school and at home. With more time on her hands the teenager finds new ways to vex her self-absorbed mother (Kyra Sedgwick), pine over her Facebook crush (Alexander Calvert) and bond with her sardonic teacher (Woody Harrelson). In the background, trying to be seen and heard, is Erwin (Hayden Szeto), an awkward and sweet classmate with eyes for Nadine.
The story sounds like something we’ve seen before but Steinfeld’s performance makes it seem fresh and new. In Nadine we have a composite of what it is to be a teenager, all the confusion, the fun, the rage, the melancholy, everything. It’s tremendous work that grounds the movie and gives equal weight to the comedy and the drama of her teenage life. The look on her face as the realization sinks in that her former best has left her behind for a boy and a game of Beer Pong is almost Shakespearean in its portrayal of teen angst.
Surrounding Steinfeld are Harrelson whose laid-back performance is a delicate mix of sarcasm and compassion, Szeto, who oozes awkward charm and Sedgwick who brings new meaning to the word frazzled. Strong work from all, but all orbit in Steinfeld’s universe.
Thanks to a great central performance “The Edge of Seventeen” is funny, heartbreaking and melancholic, sometimes all at once.