Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Movie Review

‘Into The Spider-Verse’ is straight-up the best superhero movie I have seen in a long time; it’s a frantic, beautiful breath of fresh air.

The latest Marvel & Sony release is a fully animated affair that follows Miles Morales and his journey to become Spider-Man. However, it is immediately apparent that this is no ordinary origin story; this is by no means another movie you already feel you have seen time and time again.  This time, Spider-Man isn’t the only Spider-Person around to fight evil. 

Big baldy Kingpin sets off a large collider under the city, which messes with the fabric of the universe, bringing together a wild and varied bunch of Spideys together. When these iterations such as Spider-Gwen and Peni Parker interact on-screen, the writing really shines alongside the great voice acting from the likes of Hailee Steinfeld, Nicolas Cage and John Mulaney. Shameik Moore is great throughout as Miles, and a perfect pick.

I learnt that this movie came from the team behind The Lego Movie & Lego Batman after I had watched it, and it made complete sense, with the way everyone interacts and the self-referential humour really mirroring that of the blocky worlds, and that’s not a bad thing at all.  The screening I was in had the whole cinema laughing out loud at parts.

Seeing Miles gradually transform into a fully fledged Spider-Man, and his chemistry with the other spiders especially Gwen and Peter is a real joy and the movie does a brilliant job of getting you invested in the characters and making them believable in the space of one film, with every person in Peter’s family and inner circle seeming really fleshed out.

The animation in Spider-Verse is astounding, with every single scene being filled with detail and eye-popping colour, but at the same time it is never overwhelming, which is no mean feat considering the sheer amount of content crammed into locations like Miles’ bedroom and New York City. The visual style really makes it feel like you are watching a comic book come to life, with snappy, precise shots that all really flow into one another, but it never really feels like you are watching an animated movie due to the depth of world building that has been put into this project. There are more than one properly breath-taking shots here. 

This isn’t just the best animated movie of the year, it’s one of the best outright. Into the Spider-Verse is charming, visually stunning, genuinely funny and emotionally gripping is not something I would expect from a movie starring John Mulaney as ‘Spider-Ham’, but they really manage it, in a stunning way. 

99%

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The Grinch Movie Review

When I heard that Illumination, the company behind the Minions, were rebooting the Grinch I immediately rolled my eyes and thought ‘Here we go again.’ However, my eye roll was very premature. Because the new Grinch movie isn’t bad.

The voice cast were all great, with Pharrell as the narrator working really well, Kenan Thompson is perfect as the bubbly Bricklebaum and Benedict Cumberbatch puts in a bright, playful performance as the titular Grinch.  

Matching the aesthetics of the world of Dr.Seuss pretty well, the detail in the animation here is stunning at times, with grand winter scenes shining brightly, and it being especially impressive when you see all the details like the tiny bits of snow clinging to the Grinch’s fur. Max the dog is almost guaranteed to make you smile, and his personality really shines through with his amazing facial expressions.

This is a different way of telling the story of the Grinch, with a lot more backstory shown giving reason as to why he hates Christmas so much, and it is a lot more lighthearted and kid-friendly than other version, and those expecting another Jim Carey will be disappointed, but this is not entirely a bad thing as for the most part it is really enjoyable.

Perfect heartwarming family Christmas movie this year.

77%

The Good, The Bad & The Queen – Merrie Land review

It has been 11 years since the last album by The Good, The Bad & The Queen, and a lot has changed since then. Thankfully TGTB&TQ have not, and are as on the ball as they were back in 2007. 

Title track and opener ‘Merrie Land’ sets a haunting scene of a picturesque but broken Britain that is worth fighting for while at the same time asking if it’s worth the bother, with Albarn sounding already defeated.  ‘Gun To The Head’ is an album highlight for me, sounding like Parklife-era Blur mixed with Madness with its chanty chorus and oompa beat, but the melancholy undertone is still present despite the upbeat brass. 

‘The Last Man To Leave’ is one of the most inventive, intense and simply brilliant tracks on the album, and that Damon has ever done; Damon’s vocals sounding like a crazed preacher shouting about not wanting to leave and ‘liking the bed we’ve made to lie in’ while still carrying real, heartbreaking emotion.

The whole album plays out like a sad but hopeful love letter to the UK. The lyrics to ‘Nineteen Seventeen’ perhaps most directly hint at Brexit woes; ‘I see myself moving backwards in time today from a place we can’t remain … My heart is heavy because it looks just like my home.’ with other tracks referring to lines on maps and Windrush.

While this may seem a bit too in your face and preachy when written down, rest assured the whole project has that beautiful sad echo throughout it that only Damon at his best can bring, with his truly great songwriting helped come to life even further by the stellar line-up of Paul Simonon on Bass, Tony Allen on Drums and Simon Tong on guitar.

A few songs do sound very similar to each other and a bit one-note, with ‘The Great Fire’ being a bit of a low point for me, but these tracks are in the minority and the album still flows fairly well.

The themes in this album will hit home for those in the UK at the moment, but the messages of drifting apart and regret leave a lot to the imagination, and the meticulously crafted songs can be enjoyed by anyone. This is the perfect album for 2018.

98%

Slaughterhouse Rulez Movie Review

In Slaughterhouse Rulez, the private boarding school attended by ‘rough Yorkshire lad’ Donald Wallace, has been taken over by frackers, whose digging inadvertently cause a lot of trouble. The Headmaster, played by Michael Sheen leads a crew of military-esque prefects that will go to extreme lengths to follow his lead.

It’s a fun movie for the most part if not being really predictable and unoriginal in parts. When introducing the different houses within the school, they did the stereotypical Mean Girls esque pan around the room to show them all, but never reaching that level of humour.

There are a few great, funny scenes in the film, with the ensemble cast all working well together especially in the tenser moments with all of the kids putting in believable performances with Asa Butterfield being patricularly great alongside Pegg, Frost and Sheen all being on their usual great form. At some points the humour just doesn’t work and there are a few long stretches where the movie can’t decide what tone it wants to have and it just comes across a bit messy.

Slaughterhouse Rulez is enjoyable despite its flaws and still manages to be charming and funny in spots despite never quite living up to its cast.

Michael Sheen’s dog is good though.

65%

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Movie Review

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is Disney’s latest family movie for the Christmas season.

Mackenzie Foy stars as young Clara, who is given a mysterious egg as a posthumous Christmas present by her late mother. This egg has a keyhole, but no key – the movie centers around Clara’s quest to find it. Following her mother’s clues she ends up in a mystical world made up of the titular four realms, and meets a bizzare, diverse cast of characters.

The supporting cast are solid, with Helen Mirren as Mother Ginger and Jayden Fowora-Knight as Captain Hoffman having standout performances.

Visually stunning, The Nutcracker is really pretty with beautiful, well fleshed out scenes and top quality CGI throughout; with the animal characters (the mice are especially great) all looking amazing. The plot is nothing new or anything that will stick with you for too long once the movie has ended. Two of the realms are really quickly skipped over and are barely featured at all, which is a shame as the land of sweets looked amazing.

There is a big plot twist towards the end of the movie, which does allow it to pick up in actual suspense and drama.

Overall, The Nutcracker is a fun, beautifully produced family movie that is ideal to take the kids to over the Christmas break (it’s November now so I hope it’s still showing then) – but I’m not sure it’s one they’ll want to watch again and again.

72%

The Hate U Give – Movie Review

The Hate U Give is a very timely, important film from director George Tillman Jr. and the late Audrey Wells brought to life by a cast who all bring stellar performances.

Starr Carter, played by Amandla Stenberg, is a high-school student who becomes the only witness to the fatal shooting of her best friend Khalil by a white police officer.

The Hate U Give shows how Starr has to balance what are effectively two different lives. Her home and school are in completely different neighbourhoods, and she struggles to hide parts of her she only wants certain people to see.

This only gets more difficult once she has to go before a Grand Jury, in what is quickly becoming a very high profile, public case – with protests aiming for justice for Khalil pretty much surrounding her, both at home and school.

Amandla is consistently brilliant as Starr, emotional and powerful while not overstated or overacting the role. The whole cast are almost perfect in their roles. From Anthony Mackie as the imitable ‘King’ to Common as Uncle Carlos there are so many smaller stories woven throughout the movie, giving a real human depth to the setting, with each character being fully realised, and they are all portrayed with excellence.

If you can, go and see this.

94%

The Hate U Give is out now.

Track Review: Pozi – KCTMO

KCTMO is the debut single from new London band Pozi, written during the aftermath of the Grenfell tower fire.

The track itself is a brutally honest, open-hearted encounter of what it was like to be near Grenfell at the time, and the anger Vocalist & Drummer Toby Burroughs felt; with lyrics like ‘Deadly damages are due’ Pozi aren’t holding back. Good.

Sonically, the track comes in somewhere halfway between the Maccabees and The Streets. ‘KCTMO’ has an irresistible bassline and a pounding drumbeat that really grab your attention, and the haunting violin that creeps in throughout keeps you hooked.

Very promising stuff for a debut single.

83%

Pozi have 2 upcoming London shows:

31 Oct – London, The Curtain Hotel (PRAH Halloween Party)
27 Nov – London, Moth Club