action, adventure, animation, comic book, movie, movie review, sci-fi

September 8th, 2019 Movie – Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

spider-man spiderverse

My apologies for the lack of a post last week. I was at Dragoncon over the holiday weekend and while I normally try to have a review pre-written so I can post it, I did not manage to get it done in time this year. Anyways, in the spirit of Dragoncon, I decided to review the award winning movie featuring everyone’s favorite web-swinging, quip slinging superhero, Spider-Man. Now I am pretty sure that just about everyone knows who Peter Parker is, but not that many people outside of those that regularly read comic books knows about Miles Morales. I will admit, I did not know who he was at first, as I had stopped being a regular comic reader for several years, but several of my friends are still regular readers and have frequently commented on how much the enjoy reading his stories. So when I heard that there was going to be a new Spider-Man movie that featured Miles, well I was intrigued enough to go give it a shot. So let’s see how good of a Spider-Man Miles Morales is in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.

The plot: Teenager Miles Morales has managed to get into an upper class boarding school and though his parents are proud of him, Miles would rather go back to his old school and tries to find ways to get kicked out. After dealing with the stress of his classes, Miles sneaks out and goes to see his uncle Aaron, who takes Miles to an abandoned subway station so Miles can paint his latest design on the wall. As Miles is finishing up and taking a picture of his graffiti, a strange spider bites him on the hand. The next day, Miles runs into a new girl (Gwen Stacy) at his school that he likes but as he they both nervously talk to each other, Miles hand accidentally becomes stuck to her hair. After he is cut free, Miles runs from a security officer and finds himself sticking to he outside of the building when he accidentally falls out the window. Miles manages to make it back to his room, but not before being noticed by Gwen, and as he tires to figure out what is happening to him, a Spider-Man comic falls onto his face and he sees the same thing happening in the comic to Peter Parker that has been happening to him. Miles heads back to the abandoned subway station, trying and failing to call his uncle as he does, and when he gets there, he finds the spider and notices something strange happening to it’s body. Suddenly, Miles gets a strange feeling (Spider-sense) and quickly ducks as some debris comes flying towards him and he sees Spider-Man fighting with the Green Goblin. As Spider-Man and Goblin continue their fight, Miles tries to get away and finds himself inside a massive super collider. Spider-Man rescues Miles when he falls and when both their Spider-senses react to their proximity to each other, Spider-Man realizes that Miles is like him and offers to help him deal with what he is going through once he destroys the collider. As Spider-Man tries to shut down the collider with a USB drive, he is attacked by both the Goblin and the Prowler. While Spider-Man is distracted, Kingpin shows up in the collider’s control booth and activates it, but while it is active, Goblin forces Spider-Man into the beam, causing an explosion. Miles heads to the wounded Spider-Man, who gives Miles the USB drive and tells him that the collider could destroy the city if it is activated again. After telling Miles to hide his face so nobody knows he is, he tells Miles to run, just as the Kingpin approaches him. Spider-Man tells Kingpin he knows what he is trying to do with the collider and it won’t work, and an enraged Kingpin kills him, then sends Prowler to kill Miles when he sees that Miles has seen them. Miles manages to get away and heads back to his home, but when the news breaks about Spider-Man’s death and who he was, Miles sneaks back out to find the whole city has stopped at the news of Spider-Man’s death. Buying a Spider-Man costume and attending the memorial service, where Mary Jane Parker speaks about her husband, Miles decides to try and practice with his powers but ends up damaging the USB drive. Going to Peter Parker’s grave, Miles is surprised by a stranger and displays a new ability, which shocks the man unconscious. As the man falls, he reflexively sends out a web strand that strikes Miles and Miles discovers that the man is another version of Peter Parker from a different dimension. This version, Peter B. Parker, is older than the Spider-Man from Miles city and as the police show up, Miles manages to get away with Peter. Miles takes the unconscious Peter to his uncle’s place and when Peter regains consciousness, Miles talks to him, learning that he is from another dimension. Peter gets away from Miles and starts to leave when his body starts “glitching” and Peter says his body is reacting to being in the wrong dimension. Miles tells Peter about the collider and Peter wants to use it to go home but when he learns the USB is broken, he says he has to go to Alchemax to steal the data again and reluctantly agrees to train Miles in the process. Miles and Peter head to Alchemax and Peter heads inside, telling Miles to stay back and keep watch but when Kingpin shows up, Miles heads inside to warn Peter. They manage to locate the head scientist’s lab, where Miles displays another new ability to turn invisible, but as Miles works on downloading the collider’s schematics, Peter learns that the head scientist is a female Doctor Octopus. Doc Ock says that she knows Peter is from another dimension and that if he stays in this dimension too long, his body will disintegrate, and that she wants to watch it happen. Peter manages to get away and he and Miles grab the computer hard drive and attempt to escape but when Doc Ock chases after them, they are saved by Spider-Woman, who is revealed to be Gwen Stacy. Like Peter, Gwen is from another dimension, where she was bitten by the spider and Peter Parker died, only when the explosion occurred she was blown into last week, and she was drawn to the boarding school because of Miles. The three head to Aunt May’s house, where after she greets them, she takes them to Spider-Man’s secret lair, where three other dimensional Spider-People (Spider-Man Noir, Peni Parker and her Spider robot, and Spider-Ham) have also shown up. The Spider-People know that they have to use the collider to get home but one of them must stay behind to shut the collider down. Miles says that he should be the one to shut it down, as they would all die if they stay, but when they test Miles abilities, the other Spider-People feel that Miles lacks the necessary training. A dejected Miles leaves the lair and heads to his uncle’s place, where he writes a note for Aaron only to discover that his uncle is actually the Prowler. Miles leaves his uncles place, but the Prowler sees him and gives chase, allowing Miles to lead him back to the others. At Aunt May’s house, Peni finishes making a new USB drive when Miles shows up, followed by Prowler, Doc Ock, Tombstone, and Scorpion. As the Spider-Gang begin fighting the villains, Miles tries to leave with the USB drive only to be captured by Prowler. Kingpin orders Prowler to kill Miles but when Miles reveals his identity, Aaron can’t kill his nephew so the Kingpin shoots him. Miles takes his wounded uncle away from there, but Aaron apologizes for letting Miles down before he dies, and Miles father Jefferson, a police officer, sees Miles mourning over Aaron’s body and believes Spider-Man killed his brother. Miles heads back to his room at the boarding school, where the other Spiders meet up with him and try to console him. Gwen and the others say goodbye as Peter explains to Miles that he is staying behind, telling Miles that he isn’t ready to help them so he won’t be going with them. Peter then webs up Miles and leaves and as Miles gets free, Jefferson shows up at the dorm. Thinking Miles doesn’t want to talk to him, Jefferson speaks to him through the door to tell him about Aaron’s death as well as how he feels about Miles. Taking his dad’s words to heart, Miles is able to master his powers and heads back to Aunt May’s house, to find her expecting him and giving him a new costume and web shooters tailored for him. Miles heads out to regroup with the others, who have reached Fisk Towers only to find Kingpin is holding a celebration for Spider-Man and they are able to sneak inside and head to the collider. They reach the collider just as Kingpin’s men activate it, with the city beginning to suffer the effects of multiple dimensions merging together. Peter goes to put the “goober” into the override but Doc Ock and the others are there waiting for them. Miles shows up to help and they manage to defeat Kingpin’s goons, but Peni loses the Spider robot in the process. Miles takes control of the collider and begins sending everyone back to their own dimensions and when Kingpin shows up, Peter goes to help Miles defeat him but Miles forces Peter to go back home. Miles and Kingpin face off, with Kingpin getting the upper hand and nearly killing Miles. Jefferson shows up and, seeing the fight, realizes that Spider-Man is actually a hero and begins cheering him on, encouraging Miles to get up. Miles uses his venom shock on Kingpin and then throws him into the deactivation button, shutting down the collider and saving the city. As Jefferson begins arresting the Kingpin’s goons, Miles calls him and they talk briefly before Miles, as Spider-Man, shows up in front of him and briefly speaks with Jefferson before pointing out the Kingpin suspended from a web above him. As Miles adjusts to his new life as the city’s new Spider-Man, Peni is shown to be building a new robot, Spider-Man Noir solves a Rubik’s Cube, Spider-Ham is shown eating a hot dog, while Peter heads to Mary Jane’s house to try and fix their relationship. Gwen is shown looking at a picture she took of her and Miles together and later, is shown calling out through a portal to Miles. In a post credit scene, Miguel O’Hara, Spider-Man 2099, is informed about what happened and makes his own dimensional jump, landing in 1967 New York, where he gets in an argument with that era’s Spider-Man over which one of them pointed at the other one first.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse was a massive hit with the critics, currently holding a certified fresh rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse matches bold storytelling with striking animation for a purely enjoyable adventure with heart, humor, and plenty of superhero action.” Stan Lee had recorded a cameo for this movie, making it his final voice-acting role before his death, with producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller wanting Lee to have a bigger moment compared to previous Marvel films because he was “so integral to the spirit of this movie,” and considered his role “extra meaningful” following his death. The movie was a box office hit, earning $375.5 million off of a $90 million budget, and won the Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, and the Critics’ Choice Awards.

I’m not going to lie. This might be one of the best Spider-Man movies to come out on the big screen. The voice acting was fantastic, with Shameik Moore doing a great job as Miles. Jake Johnson (Peter B. Parker), Hailee Steinfeld (Gwen), Mahershala Ali (Aaron), and Brian Tyree Henry (Jefferson) were also equally good, while Lily Tomlin (Aunt May), John Mulaney (Spider-Ham), and Nicolas Cage (Spider-Man Noir) were just plain funny and entertaining. The story was a little darker than I expected for a movie geared towards kids, but still very well written. It was a good way to showcase the pressures that a teenager would face when given super powers and having a desire to use them for good, as well as giving him a support group of people who had been through the exact same thing that he was currently going through. I loved some of the nods and Easter eggs referencing Marvel that were scattered throughout the movie, with my 2 favorites being: 1) The name B Bendis listed in Miles phones, which is a reference to Brian Michael Bendis (who co-created the character of Miles Morales), and 2) The post credit scene where Spider-Man 2099 shows up and confronts a past Spider-Man (with Stan Lee voicing J. Jonah Jameson in that scene). The animation was fantastic in this movie, and I loved how they would slightly alter it regarding Peni, Noir, and Spider-Ham (making Peni look more anime style, Spider-Man Noir being in black and white, while Spider-Ham was made overly cartoony). The soundtrack to the movie fit in well with the scenes taking place and helped emphasize the moods of the scenes, ranging from a normal feel to more dramatic throughout the movie. All told, this is a great movie that deserved the praise it got and is well worth watching when you get the chance (it’s currently on Netflix so do yourself a favor and watch it now.)

Rating: 5 out of 5

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action, adventure, comic book, movie, movie review, sci-fi

June 10th, 2018 Movie – X-Men Origins: Wolverine

xmen origins wolverine

After X-Men: The Last Stand left theaters, Fox decided to make some spin-offs of the series by exploring the back stories of two characters; Wolverine and Magneto. When I first heard about this, I thought that this was a great idea, as both characters have a lot of interesting histories that can make for some pretty good movies. With Wolverine being the first movie, I was curious how they were going to handle it as he has had several origin stories all ret-conned into one giant mess of a life story. So when it hit theaters, I happened to be on reduced hours at work, which made for the perfect opportunity to catch an early showing one day. So let’s see how Fox did with today’s movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

The plot: In the Canadian Northwest Territories in 1845, young James Howlett is lying sick in his bed, with Victor Creed, the son of the Howlett’s groundskeeper Thomas Logan, keeping him company. As his father John Howlett comes in to check on him, they hear a commotion coming from downstairs as Thomas enters the house and starts yelling out for John’s wife Elizabeth. John heads down to confront him, followed by Victor, and as James listens to the escalating argument, he suddenly hears a shot and his mother crying out. James rushes out of his room and discovers his father dying from a gun shot wound and as Thomas tries to explain things to James, he suddenly begins growing bone claws from the back of his hands. Enraged at his father’s death, James rushes forward and impales Thomas with his claws but Thomas explains that he, not John, was James’ father before he dies from his wounds. As Elizabeth stares in horror at her son, James runs out of the house, followed by Victor, who explains that they are brothers and they have to stick together and protect each other, then start running as they see a posse out looking for them. Victor and James, head south to the United States, where they end up fighting in the major wars of the country, from the Civil War, to World War I and World War II. During the Vietnam War, Victor ends up killing a superior officer when he tries to stop Victor from raping a woman and as James goes to defend Victor from some of the other soldiers, they both end up being charged with his murder and ordered to be executed by firing squad but due to their healing factors, they both survive and are then placed in a cell. Inside their cell, they are approached by Major William Stryker, who offers them a place on his team, which is filled with other mutants like themselves, and they both agree. After joining Team X for a couple of years James, now going by Logan, and Victor go on a mission with Stryker and their teammates Agent Zero, Fred Dukes, Wade Wilson, John Wraith, and Chris Bradley to Lagos, Nigeria. When they get there, they attack a crime lord in his complex, and Stryker asks him where he obtained a strange meteorite. The crime lord tells them and they head to a remote village, where Stryker has Wade ask the tribal leader about the meteorite. When the leader says it is sacred to their village, Stryker has Victor kill the man and Logan attempts to stop Zero and Victor from killing more people. Victor asks Logan what he is doing but Logan says he didn’t sign up for this and walks away from the group, with Victor yelling at him to come back. 6 years later, Victor pays a visit to Bradley, who is working at a Carnival in Ohio, and when Bradley says he thought it would be Wade that would come see him, Victor tells him that Wade is gone, then proceeds to kill him. Meanwhile, Logan is working as a lumberjack up in the Canadian Rockies and is in a relationship with a woman named Kayla Silverfox. As Logan is at work one day, he receives a visit from Stryker and Zero, who inform him of Bradley and Wade’s death. When Logan asks if anyone else is dead, Stryker says Victor is safe as far as he knows and he asks Logan to help find whoever is killing their old team but Logan refuses and drives off. Logan picks up Silverfox from her school and tells her about Styrker approaching him but he tells her that he refused to have anything to do with him. The next day, Silverfox is on her way to work when she encounters Victor, who scratches up her car as he approaches her. Meanwhile, Logan finds a dead wolverine at his work site and when he notices the scratches on a nearby tree, he realizes that Victor is there. He races off to find Silverfox, eventually finding her car, but is too late as she is already dead. Logan tracks Victor down to a nearby bar and the two begin fighting but Victor easily beats Logan, crushing him underneath some logs before throwing him into a truck and snapping the claws on his left hand, causing Logan to pass out. When Logan comes too, he finds Stryker waiting for him at the hospital and he argues with him about not telling him that Victor was the killer. Stryker says that after Logan left, Victor started getting too out of control and when Stryker sidelined him, he went rogue. Stryker tells Logan that he can give him the tools necessary to kill Victor, but says that it will cause him unbearable pain, but Logan agrees to do it so long as he is able to get his revenge. Stryker takes Logan to a secret base at Alkali Lake and asks Logan if he remembers the African mission. When Logan acknowledges him, Stryker tells him he found the meteorite, which he was able to use to create a metal compound called adamantium that is virtually indestructable, and he plans on infusing Logan’s skeleton with it. Stryker goes to hand Logan his dog tags back but Logan says he wants new ones with his name listed as Wolverine, after a story that Silverfox told him the night before she died. Stryker has the bonding process started and when it is finished, Logan’s vital signs are flatlined and everyone believes he died when his heart suddenly starts back up. As Logan’s vital signs stabalize, Stryker and everyone cheer their success and Zero asks if Stryker wants Logan taken to The Island but Stryker says no, as they have his DNA they can use for the bonding process and he orders Logan’s memory to be erased. Logan hears the conversation and he breaks out of the tank, then escapes the facility and Stryker orders Zero to hunt him down. Logan ends up at the farm of an elderly couple, Travis and Heather Hudson, and they take him in for the night, giving him some of their son’s old clothes to wear. The next morning, Logan is talking with Travis and Heather in the barn when Zero kills them from his sniper’s position on a far off hill. He then orders a helicopter to destroy the barn in the hopes that it will kill Logan but he rides out on Travis’ motorcycle before it explodes. Zero has the helicopter pick him up and they pursue Logan, joined by two Humvees, but Logan uses his new adamantium claws to destroy the vehicles and crash the helicopter. Stryker tries contacting Zero, who is injured but still alive, but Logan gets on the radio and tells Stryker that he is coming after him when he finishes with Victor, then heads off, using his claws to create a spark and set the fuel on fire to blow up the helicopter and kill Zero. Back at the base, Stryker is given a pistol with adamantium bullets, saying it is the only thing that can stop Logan now. He is then told that the mutant he was looking for has been found and he sends Victor out to get him. Logan heads to Las Vegas, where Wraith is living and running a boxing gym and when he talks about where Stryker might be, Wraith says that Fred might no but warns Logan not to comment about his weight. When Logan sees Fred, he is shocked at his size and attempts to ask him where Victor is but Fred, mistakenly thinking Logan called him “Blob” knocks him out of the ring. Wraith tells Logan to try sparring with Fred to let him work out his anger and get him to talking and Logan does so for a while but gets tired and uses his reinforced skeleton to knock Fred out. When Fred comes too, Logan threatens him with his claws and Fred tells him that Victor and Stryker were working together, hunting and capturing mutants as Stryker was trying to find a way to combine their powers. Logan realizes he was set up to undergo the bonding and asks Fred where the Island is and Fred says he doesn’t know but a prisoner named Remy LeBeau (Gambit) had escaped from there and he would know where it is. Logan heads to New Orleans, accompanied by Wraith, and they find Gambit playing poker at a club. As Logan goes to talk to him, Wraith heads to the back to cover the exit and sees Victor in the alley. When Wraith confronts him, Victor comments about killing Fred and Wraith starts fighting Victor but Victor knows Wraith’s patterns and moves his hand right where he is going to teleport, grabbing a hold of Wraith’s spine and severing it. Meanwhile, Logan asks Gambit about the Island but this causes Gambit to use his powers to attack him, knocking him through the wall of the club. Logan lands in the alley, where he sees Victor standing over Wraith’s body, and as Gambit follows him outside, Logan quickly knocks him down, then faces off against Victor. The two start fighting but this time, Logan gets the upper hand and is prepared to kill him when Gambit breaks them up, allowing Victor to escape. Gambit starts fighting with Logan but Logan beats him and tells him he is going to take him to the Island so that he can kill Victor, Stryker, and everyone else in the place. At the Island, Stryker looks at the frozen body of his son as General Munson examines Stryker’s pet project, Deadpool. Munson says that he is shutting Stryker down, as his issues with his own son have made him to close to this, so Stryker kills him. Gambit flies Logan to The Island, which happens to be Three Mile Island, as Stryker uses the nuclear reactors as cover to keep people from poking around. Logan makes his way into the facility and confronts Stryker, who is finishing his operation on Deadpool, but is shocked to find Silverfox there. Stryker explains that Silverfox was keeping tabs on Logan for him, as he was holding her sister captive on the Island. Logan feels like he was betrayed by Silverfox and just walks out of there and afterwards, Silverfox begs Stryker to release her sister but he says he can’t do that yet, as they still need to examine her mutation. Victor shows up, upset that Stryker allowed Logan to leave and demands he give him the adamantium but Stryker tells him that he wouldn’t survive the process. Silverfox tells Victor that Stryker is just using them but Victor, upset at what is going on, grabs her by the throat and prepares to kill her. Logan hears her screams and runs back into the lab and begins fighting Victor, beating him again but Silverfox stops him from killing him, then asks for his help in freeing her sister. As Logan and Silverfox make their way to the prison area, Stryker tells his assistant to activate Weapon XI. After freeing the captive mutants, Logan and Silverfox start to lead them outside only to encounter Deadpool, who has adamantium blades extend from his hands to counter Logan’s claws. Logan tells Silverfox to get the kids out of there, then confronts Deadpool, whom he recognizes as Wade but with his mouth sewn shut. As the two begin fighting, Silverfox tries to lead the kids out of there but they come under fire from Stryker’s guards. Silverfox’s sister, Emma is able to shield them with her power and Scott Summers uses his powers to take out the guards. Silverfox tells Emma to lead the kids out of there but says she has to stay behind and as Emma reluctantly leaves her, Silverfox is shown to have been hit by one of the bullets. Meanwhile, Logan and Deadpool’s fight has made it’s way to the top of a reactor tower and just as Deadpool is about to kill him, Victor shows up and saves Logan. The two brothers work together and finally manage to kill Deadpool, with Wolverine slicing off his head, and afterwards, Logan tells Victor it doesn’t change anything between them and Victor heads off. Gambit shows back up, rescuing Logan from some of the falling debris from the reactor tower and they start to leave when Logan hears Silverfox and tells Gambit to go help the kids get off the island. As Logan reaches Silverfox and picks her up, Stryker begins shooting Logan with the adamantium bullets, with the last two hitting him in the head. Before he can reload the gun to finish him off, Silverfox grabs his ankle and uses her powers to force Stryker to start walking until his feet bleed. As the kids make their way out of the lab, Scott begins hearing a voice in his head telling him where to go and they emerge from the lab to find Professor Xavier, who had been guiding Scott telepathically, to him. Xavier tells them that they are safe and offers to take them to his school and they board his plane and leave, just as Gambit arrives and watches them go. Logan recovers from being shot just as Gambit returns but he has no memory of who he is or what he was doing there. Gambit convinces Logan that he is a friend and says they have to leave but as they do, Logan sees Silverfox’s body and stops to stare at her, then tells Gambit to leave as he will find his own way and the two men separate as the authorities start to arrive. On a road in the middle of nowhere, Stryker is continuing to walk as Silverfox told him when he is stopped by some military police, who tell him he is wanted for questioning over Munson’s death. At the rubble of the reactor tower, Deadpool’s blades are shown to be retracting back into his hands as they reach for his head, just as his eyes open and he whispers “Shhhh” to the audience.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine met with negative reviews from the critics, holding a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though Hugh Jackman gives his all, he can’t help X-Men Origins: Wolverine overcome a cliche-ridden script and familiar narrative.” Hugh Jackman recommended Liev Schreiber to play the role of Sabertooth, citing his having the necessary competitive streak for the role. During filming, that competitive nature came to play as the two would dare each other to perform more and more of their own stunts. Despite the negative reviews, the movie was a box office success, earning $373.1 million off of a $150 million budget and would lead to two more Wolverine spin-off movies; The Wolverine and Logan, while the plans for a Magneto origins movie would be cancelled and worked into the prequel movie X-Men: First Class.

While not as disappointing as The Last Stand, this was still a bit of a disappointment. The acting was ok, with Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber doing good jobs as Wolverine and Sabertooth respectively. Ryan Reynolds was absolutely the best choice for Wade Wilson (I will get into the “Deadpool” travesty in a sec) and I thought that Will I. Am was good as Wraith but I was honestly a little “meh” towards everyone else. The story was pretty interesting, showing a few elements from the “Origins” mini-series while mainly focusing on Wolverines time in Team X, the black ops team he was in as part of the Weapon X program. trying to explain the memory loss in the process. The special effects were pretty good and did add some flash to the movie but there was some time where they felt unnecessary, especially during some of the fight scenes. Of course, the thing that pissed every fan of the X-Men universe off is what happened with Wade Wilson at the end of the movie. As much as everyone loved it when Reynolds showed up as Wade Wilson, when Wilson’s character reappeared as Deadpool, with a hodgepodge of mutant abilities, built in adamantium swords, and his mouth sewn shut, unhappy was a very mild way of putting their reaction. Everyone I knew was cursing and lambasting the producers and directors for practically ruining one of the best characters to come out in recent years. Thank god it got fixed later on when they essentially decided to just completely do away with everything from this movie in context with the rest of the X-Men universe. It has some fun moments to it but this was a bit of a let down of a movie.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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