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 joins CP24 anchor Nick Dixon to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the super-duper family of “Incredibles 2,” the Jon Hamm comedy “Tag” and the bleak-but-brilliant thriller “Beast.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the super-duper family of “Incredibles 2,” the Jon Hamm comedy “Tag” and the bleak thriller “Beast.”
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 return of the Parr family in “Incredibles 2,” the Jon Hamm comedy “Tag” and the bleak-but-brilliant thriller “Beast.”
It can be tough to stay in touch with friends after college. People scatter, get married, have kids, don’t answer the phone as much. In real life Joe Tombari and his pals figured out a unique way to stay connected, an elaborate game of tag that has kept them in touch—literally—for more than two decades. “The best thing about the game,” he told “The Guardian,” “is that it has kept us in touch over all these years—it forces us to meet and has formed a strong bond between us, almost like brothers.”
A new film starring Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Isla Fisher, Annabelle Wallis, Leslie Bibb, Ed Helms, Hannibal Buress, and Rashida Jones takes Tombari’s game to an extreme.
For one month of each of the last thirty years Hoagie (Helms), Jerry (Renner), Bob (Hamm), Chili (Johnson) and Kevin (Buress) go to war, playing a game of tag with no rules and no prisoners. The last ‘it” of the season lives in shame for the rest of the year.
The latest game overlaps with the wedding of alpha dog Jerry, the only undefeated player. “He’s the best who ever played,” says Hoagie, “and now he wants to retire and make us all look like fools.” The old friends rally to put an end to Jerry’s winning streak.
The movie takes the real life premise and pushes it to extremes. These competitive fools will stop at nothing—including physical harm—to win. It’s a funny idea that does deliver some laughs but ultimately becomes a one-joke premise tarted up with some mild action, a dollop of psychological warfare, some raunchy humour and even a simulated war crime played for yuks. The bromantic chemistry between the guys is good—and Buress with his non-sequitirs and deadpan delivery steals the show—but the film works best before it overindulges in elaborate set pieces. Hoagie disguised as a woman in an attempt to take Jerry by surprise is funny. Jerry’s booby-trapped forest, à la “Apocalypse Now,” pushes the story too far from the core—a friendly movie about male bonding—and into the realm of the ridiculous.
The movie finishes with clips of Tombari and his pals playing the real-life game and suggests that a documentary might have been just as entertaining as the narrative film.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show host Andrew Carter to talk about the fourteen-years-in-the-making sequel, “Incredibles 2,” the Jon Hamm comedy “Tag” and the bleak-but-brilliant thriller “Beast.”
CHIPs: It’s a remake, a comedy and an action film and yet it doesn’t quite measure up to any of those descriptors. It’s a remake in the sense that writer-director-star Dax Shepard has lifted the title, character names and general situation from the classic TV show but they are simply pegs to hang his crude jokes on.
The Circle: While it is a pleasure to see Bill Paxton in his last big screen performance, “The Circle” often feels like an Exposition-A-Thon, a message in search of a story.
The Fate of the Furious: Preposterous is not a word most filmmakers would like to have applied to their work but in the case of the “Fast and Furious” franchise I think it is what they are going for. Somewhere along the way the down-‘n’-dirty car chase flicks veered from sublimely silly to simply silly. “The Fate of the Furious” is fast, furious but it’s not much fun. It’s an unholy mash-up of James Bond and the Marvel Universe, a movie bogged down by outrageous stunts and too many characters. Someone really should tell Vin Diesel and Company that more is not always more.
Fifty Shades Darker: Depending on your point of view “Fifty Shades of Grey” either made you want to gag or want to wear a gag. It’s a softcore look at hardcore BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) that spanked the competition on its opening weekend in 2015. Question is, will audiences still care about Grey’s proclivities and Ana’s misgivings or is it time to use our collective safeword? “Fifty Shades Darker” is a cold shower of a movie. “It’s all wrong,” Ana says at one point. “All of this is wrong.” Truer words have never been spoken.
The Mountain Between Us: Mountain survival movies usually end up with someone eating someone else to stay alive. “The Mountain Between Us” features the usual mountain survival tropes—there’s a plane crash, a showdown with a cougar and broken bones—but luckily for fans of stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet cannibalism is not on the menu. Days pass and then weeks pass and soon they begin their trek to safety. “Where are we going?” she asks. “We’re alive,” he says. “That’s where were going.” There will be no spoilers here but I will say the crash and story of survival changes them in ways that couldn’t imagine… but ways the audience will see coming 100 miles away. It’s all a bit silly—three weeks in and unwashed they still are a fetching couple—but at least there’s no cannibalism and no, they don’t eat the dog.
The Mummy: As a horror film it’s a meh action film. As an action film it’s little more than a formulaic excuse to trot out some brand names in the kind of film Hollywood mistakenly thinks is a crowd pleaser.
The Shack: Bad things in life may be God’s will but I lay the blame for this bad movie directly on the shoulders of director Stuart Hazeldine who infuses this story with all the depth and insight of a “Davey and Goliath” cartoon.
The Snowman: We’ve seen this Nordic Noir before and better. Mix a curious lack of Oslo accents—the real mystery here is why these Norwegians speak as though they just graduated RADA—Val Kilmer in a Razzie worthy performance and you’re left with a movie that left me as cold as the snowman‘s grin.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: Movies like the high gloss crime thriller “La Femme Nikita,” the assassin mentor flick “Léon: The Professional” and outré sci fi opera “The Fifth Element” have come to define director Luc Besson’s outrageous style. Kinetic blasts of energy, his films are turbo charged fantasies that make eyeballs dance even if they don’t always engage the brain. His latest, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” not only has one of the longest titles of the year but is also one of the most over-the-top, retina-frying movies of the year. Your eyes will beg for mercy.
Wonder Wheel: At the beginning of the film Mickey (Justin Timberlake) warns us that what we are about to see will be filtered through his playwright’s point of view. Keeping that promise, writer, director Woody Allen uses every amount of artifice at his disposal—including cinematographer Vittorio Storaro’s admittedly sumptuous photography—to create a film that is not only unreal but also unpleasant. “Oh God,” Ginny (Kate Winslet) cries out at one point. “Spare me the bad drama.” Amen to that.
Song to Song: I think it’s time Terrence Malick and I called it quits. I used to look forward to his infrequent visits. Sure, sometimes he was a little obtuse and over stayed his welcome, but more often than not he was alluringly enigmatic. Then he started coming around more often and, well, maybe the old saying about familiarity breeding contempt is true. In “Song to Song” there’s a quick shot of a tattoo that sums up my feelings toward my relationship with Malick. Written in flowery script, the words “Empty Promises” fill the screen, reminding us of the promise of the director’s early work and amplifying the disappointment we feel today. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back, the Terrence Malick movie that put me off Terrence Malick movies. I’ll be nice though and say, it’s not him, it’s me.
EXTRA! EXTRRA! MOST COUNFOUNDING
mother!: Your interest in seeing “mother!,” the psychological thriller from “Black Swan” director Darren Aronofsky, may be judged on your keenness to watch American sweetheart Jenifer Lawrence flush a beating heart down a toilet. Aronofsky’s story of uninvited guests disrupting the serene lives of a poet and his wife refuses to cater to audience expectations. “mother!” is an uncomfortable watch, an off-kilter experience that revels in its own madness. As the weight of the weirdness and religious symbolism begins to feel crushing, you may wonder what the hell is going on. Are these people guilty of being the worst houseguests ever or is there something bigger, something biblical going on?
Aronofsky is generous with the biblical allusions—the house is a paradise, the stranger’s sons are clearly echoes of Cain and Abel, and there is a long sequence that can only be described as the Home-style Revelation—and builds toward a crescendo of wild action that has to be seen to be believed, but his characters are ciphers. Charismatic and appealing to a member, they feel like puppets in the director’s apocalyptic roadshow rather than characters we care about. Visually and thematically he doesn’t push button so much as he pokes the audience daring them to take the trip with him, it’s just too bad we didn’t have better company for the journey.
“mother!” is a deliberately opaque movie. Like looking into a self-reflective mirror you will take away whatever you put into it. The only thing sure about it is that it is most confounding studio movie of the year.