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“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is a Kaleidoscope of Comic Book Flair and Power

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If the abundance of Spider-Man reboots and sequels has seemed daunting over the past few years, this is the bold new take to shake the cage of the friendly neighborhood web-slinger. It’s a finely polished take on the superhero that makes the biggest attempt at replicating the comics, both visually and thematically. And while there’s no shortage of Marvel heroes or animated superhero satire at the cinema, this is by far the best film in both genres I’ve seen this year. And for a year that came with the inspiringly progressive Black Panther and the rule-breaking script of Avengers: Infinity War, that’s no small accomplishment.

I’ll get to the story in just a moment, and it is one worth talking about, but I’ve got to address the computer animation which is some of the most experimental I’ve seen in recent memory. Several bold choices were made to replicate the look of comic books, from the obvious of speech bubbles to the trickier use of color bleeding and pointillism in the backgrounds. I found the color bleeding as a slight replacement for the blurring an interesting choice; too little and you wouldn’t notice it or too much and it’d look like watching a 3D movie without the glasses. I noticed it and couldn’t stop marveling at how well it worked for this type of film that already blends so many different choices in style, from 2D animation techniques to great use of action lines and wild uses of color.

Miles Morales in Sony Pictures Animation’s SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE.

But the film has more to offer than just the most dazzling use of CGI. It’s a tale about identity and coming of age that carries a heavier impact than previous depictions of Spider-Man. There’s a new kid in New York City that has been bitten by a radioactive spider. Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is a high school kid who would rather work on his street art than tangle with the dangerous villain Kingpin (Liev Schreiber), driven to get back his wife and child by any means. Miles won’t have a choice, however, when Peter Parker (Chris Pine) meets his end and it’s up to Miles to save the world from complete destruction.

But he’s not alone. Thanks to a dimensional rift, characters from other dimensions with the Spider-Man origins come to his aid. One of them is the more familiar version of Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) but he’s much different the Spider-Man that Miles knows about. This Peter is twice the age, twice the gut, and twice as depressed from a series of bad choices he’s made in his life, the most blatant being his choice of sweatpants for his costume. The reluctant Parker decides to help Miles in the ways of the web-slinging in return for being sent home.

Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) and Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) in Sony Pictures Animation’s SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE.

And there are other Spider-people seeking the same goal. Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) came from a universe where the genders are swapped and she ended up with radioactive blood and a white costume. Spider-Noir (Nicolas Cage) comes from a classic detective universe that is so literally black and white that he’s colorblind in Miles’ world. Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) comes from an anime-inspired universe where the schoolgirl fights villains with her robot spider. And then there’s Spider-Ham (John Mulaney) from the cartoony world where the smell of pies make you float and mallets can fit in his pocket.

There’s plenty of fun to be had with that ensemble but the film thankfully never loses sight of the main appeal of Miles. He remains the strongest element of the story with his conflicting relationships to his tough-but-loving cop father (Brian Tyree Henry) and his gangster uncle (Mahershala Ali). When the drama gets tender, it’s warm and heartfelt. When tragedy strikes, it packs the most meaningful of punches without feeling like a tacked-on breather from the frenetic fun. I was surprised at how hard this movie hits, proving to distance itself from the softer blows of The LEGO Batman Movie and Teen Titans Go To The Movies. Where those films just want to poke fun, this movie does all that and still pulls out the big guns to be a “real” Spider-Man movie.

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

Spider-Verse is everything anyone could possibly want in a Spider-Man movie and maybe even a little more than that. It’s an everything-sundae of comic book action, fourth-wall humor, serious drama, and the most visually stunning a computer-animated can look without blending into the crowd. When a film can inspire individuality, break your heart, and still have room to make a knee-slapper gag about the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon, it becomes very clear this isn’t your average superhero picture. This is easily one of the best films of the year and, yes, I’m aware of the scoffing that comes from such a statement. And, yes, I’ll say it; I loved the film with a talking pig in a Spider-Man costume.

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Robert DeNiro de-agedHave you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. ????

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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