Tag Archives: Shameik Moore

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

What’s better than Spider-Man? TWO Spider-Mans (or is it Spider-Men?)!  Either way, take that thinking to its conclusion, like Lego Movie co-writer Phil Lord did, and you end up with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, a cinematic universe to end all cinematic universes.

MV5BMjA0MTgwNTM5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTgyODI4NjM_._V1_SX1777_CR0_0_1777_744_AL_.0Spider-Man (Jake Johnson) has hit a bit of a rough patch in middle age, as has teenager Miles Morales, who just got bitten by a radioactive spider and is going through some changes as a result on top of struggling with fitting in a his new school. Right after being bitten by that pesky spider, Miles stumbles into a science lab where another Spider-Man (Chris Pine) is trying to stop the Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) from opening a dimensional portal.  During the battle, Kingpin kills that Spidey but not before the first Spider-Man, the middle-aged one, is sucked through the portal that the Kingpin’s machine created.

Confused? You should be, but the most amazing thing about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is that this jumble of Spider-Mans (Men?) makes perfect sense on-screen. And that’s a compliment in two ways. First, because there is so much happening in this movie that it has no right to make sense, and second, because there are a whole lot of other amazing things about this movie.

Spider-Verse’s animation, particularly the art style, is stunning. A number of other superhero films have taken inspiration from the comics, whether in using captions,  multiple panels, or bright colours.  Spider-Verse takes that to a whole other glorious level, owning its comic book roots and jumping off the screen even in classic 2D.

Spider-Verse is also remarkably accessible. This is not a solo superhero film with only two or three familiar  characters to track. Spider-Verse is chock full of obscure one-offs, alternate takes that faded away, including an entire “Ultimate” comic book line that was canned by Marvel in 2015 due to lack of interest. All of that can sit comfortably in the background but no prior knowledge of anything is necessary, even of Spider-Man, to understand and enjoy this film.

 

 

 

Dope

You might not know Shameik Moore yet, but you will.

He’s not the only reason why I was grabbed by this movie: the script is smart, the soundtrack is awesomesauce, and the angle is fresh. dopeBut Moore, unknown to me, turns in an A+ performance while writer-director Rick Famuyiwa is making choices I’m quickly becoming addicted to.

The story: Malcolm is a good student in a bad school, a good kid in a bad neighbourhood. He dreams of Harvard and 90s hip hop but on his way to his admissions interview he winds up with a bookbag full of dope. He’s got two friends, Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and Jib (Tony Revolori – the little bellhop from The Grand Budapest Hotel), and though this charming trio is made up of teacher’s pets and band geeks, they resolve to navigate the dark web and treat their reluctant drug dealing like a 21st century enterprise.

This movie is tonally inconsistent, but it’s not because the film doesn’t know what it is, it’s because it aims to be a bit of everything, and I kind of liked that about it.  Famuyiwa means to challenge our dopebandnotion of what a drug dealer looks like – or what a Harvard applicant looks like, for that matter, but even the film itself defies expectations. It manages to seamlessly integrate these 90s throwbacks into a world where these kids have never bought nor owned a CD. They idolize rap but they play in a punk band. Welcome to 2015. Pharrell Williams and Sean (Diddy) Combs are listed as producers, so you know that shit is solid.

The cast is exceptionally good, and you need them to be to make this story work. Comedy-drama-crime: the film covers a lot of ground, but at its heart it’s an identity crisis, an acknowledgement of our many selves. Famuyiwa is not a newbie but this is his first film where I feel like I actually know him. You can’t infuse a script with this many pop culture references and not reveal yourself. Famuyiwa, I think I’m on to you.