Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

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A new Spider-Man has arrived, and has brought more than enough thrills along…

If you were to show a graph of the quality of all the films about Marvel’s (arguably) most popular hero, there would be a lot of ups (Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming) and downs (Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man 2). Still, just when you thought Tom Holland’s Spider-Man (a wonderful portrayal) was the best film we would get, in comes swinging Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which is quite possibly the best Spidey to ever web up the big screen.

If you have seen the trailer, you know there is a good amount of Spiders in this web. The main one is Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a local teenager who goes to a private school he hates despite it being the wishes of his police chief dad (Brian Tyree Henry). The only person he does seem to have a positive rapport with is his Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali). It is with him that, one night he is (spoiler, well not really) bitten by a radioactive spider and senses his new powers.

The other versions of Spider-Man appear after a rip is caused in the quantum realm by Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber), better known as Kingpin. The main one is a much older Spider-Man (Jake Johnson), who has left his beloved MJ and is not in the best of shape. We also meet Spider Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), and Spider-Ham (John Mulaney). Trust me, you don’t want me to say any more about their characters. It is worth witnessing yourself.

Oh, how glad I am this movie was animated. Had the filmmakers tried to make this in the real world, it would not have succeeded. Animation is used to help explore more of the human imagination that live action cannot (I hope those at Disney who like remaking animated films into live action are reading this).

Yet the glorious animation still does not take away from the moving story. It has been some time since tears were in my eyes from both laughing out loud and at moments that truly got me a little choked up.

Parents, the movie can be a little dark, but it should be fine for kids elementary and up. No swearing (despite a few minor ones) or sexual content. Only the mildest of violence.

I close by saying that if there is a better ending post credit scene than the one here, I have not seen it. And I have seen all the movies in the MCU.

So yeah, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is amazing.

Overall: Five Stars *****

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

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Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is venting, to say the least…

A year or so ago, I remember reading that Academy Award Nominee Hailee Steinfeld (from the remake of True Grit) was not going to focus much on acting anymore and more on singing. While I have not heard any of her songs, I would hate to see her leave acting, because once you witness her in The Edge of Seventeen, you know you are watching a sure professional at the top of her game.

Steinfeld plays Nadine, a High School Junior who has very little in life that makes her happy. She feels overshadowed by her older brother Darian (Blake Jenner), and does not get too well along with her single mom Mona (Kyra Sedgwick). Her one ray of hope is her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). They are peas in a pod, the type of friends who will hold back the other’s hair while they are throwing up in the toilet. This all changes when Krista hooks up with Darian.

The movie’s first time director, Kelly Fremon Craig, also wrote the screenplay. It is full of dialogue with wit and charm we all love to take out of a coming of age movie, including Nadine and her new friend Erwin (Hayden Szeto). Still, the best scenes are when Nadine has her conversations with her history teacher, Mr. Bruner (a sensational Woody Harrelson). Not many teachers will respond to a student’s over the top decision to commit suicide by reciting his own suicide note. Harrelson and Steinfeld are magical.

Parents, the movie is Rated R for good reason, but it does not mean High Schoolers should not see it (that is, the mature ones). There is a lot of swearing and sexual dialogue (mainly when Nadine is talking about her crush Nick, played by Alexander Calvert). There is also a scene in a car that does go on for a bit, but nothing is shown. Basically, I would say Juniors and up are fine.

The movie did take some turns I did not entirely appreciate (it reminded me a little of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a movie I was not a fan of). Still, in the coming of age movie genre, The Edge of Seventeen does place a staple along others. The late John Hughes would tip his hat to this film.

Overall: Four Stars ****