Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) – Movie Review

into the spiderverse

The worlds of superhero movies and superhero comics are not as similar as they seem on the surface. Currently, film studios are all about the “extended universe”, seeing how many different titles and characters they can shove into one franchise (Avengers, X-Men, Justice League), making for an easy way to squeeze a few extra bucks out of their lesser known properties. Comics have this as well, of course. However, they also have something modern movies haven’t really tapped into yet: story one-offs, a chance for a storyteller to create a unique tale and not be constrained by the implications on or from the larger universe. Spider-Verse gets to do just that, while playfully taking on the fun (if convoluted) absurdity of extended superhero universes. Listen, I hear you. “How could we possibly need another Spider-Man movie?” Spider-Verse understands that question and has a take on it. Yes, Peter Parker is here. In fact, there are two Peter Parkers. There’s also a Spider-Woman, a Noir Spider-Man, an anime Spider-Girl/Robot, and a Spider-Pig. At the center though is Miles Morales, an Afro-Hispanic Brooklyn teen who must help these other Spider-People get back to their own planes of existence. He fights with his cop dad, he adores his shady uncle, hates being simply the smartest kid in the room, and just wants to do something that matters. Being Spider-Man wasn’t his idea, but hey, when a radioactive spider gives you powers, what choice do you have? Look, I don’t have any sort of hot take on this movie. It looks great, the humor pops with surprises, the voice casting is beyond perfect. It’s simply a stylishly exciting and refreshingly unique take on the superhero genre, and sometimes that’s more than enough.

 

4 out of 5 stars

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22 Jump Street (2014) – Movie Review

22 jump street

If there’s one criticism I have about 22 Jump Street, it’s that the movie feels too similar to 21 Jump Street. But is that really a complaint? With 22 Jump Street, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The LEGO Movie) have created a massively entertaining ride, with more antics from the characters we love, and better performances all around.

This time around, they’re going to college. Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it before. As Ice Cube says at the end of the first film, in which the two went undercover at a high school, the tables have been turned and they’re going to college now. Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) must once again go undercover at MC State to bust another drug operation, this time called WHYPHY (work hard? yes. play hard? yes.)

What worked with 21 Jump Street works again in 22 Jump Street. The excellent characters of Schmidt and Jenko are once again paired to make a hilarious and charismatic duo. Their personalities clash once more, but in a different way than the first film, and they get into even more crazy shenanigans than before. This includes having a shootout in the university library and busting a Spring Break beach party. 22 Jump Street always keeps you on edge, wondering what will happen next. While the plot is pretty standard and similar to the first film, you’ll want to stick around because you love these characters so much. New characters such as Zook (Wyatt Russell) and Mercedes (Jillian Bell) feel right at home within the crazy cast. Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) is also in rare form, delivering some of the film’s best moments.

This is a testament to Hill and Tatum, who put so much work into creating these characters. Jenko settles into the football team, and makes friends at a fraternity, while Schmidt performs slam poetry and does many walks of shame. Hill and Tatum are in top form. Their chemistry is better than ever, making 22 Jump Street a hilarious buddy comedy. Try not to laugh when Schmidt does slam poetry to impress a girl, I dare you.

What makes 22 Jump Street feel special is its self-referential attitude and countless meta jokes. Police chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) essentially explains why this movie was made within the first 10 minutes, saying “no one cared about the Jump Street reboot, but you guys got lucky.” It’s a funny way to be self-deprecating and hilarious at the same time. It plays to the audience’s intelligence, rather than making them feel stupid. Other references are more subtle, like when Schmidt keeps asking about the film’s budget. It all plays into a very interesting and unique humor style. While there are plenty of raunchy jokes (right in the crack), the film’s best come from its self-referencing.

So, now for the all-important question: is 22 Jump Street better than the original? With its meta jokes and its excellent characterization, 22 Jump Street is a rousing success, and matches the original in sheer humor. But the plot feels too similar to the original. While this may be a fault in the film’s format, a few more twists would have been appreciated. Still, 22 Jump Street is a hilarious ride, one definitely worth taking.

 

7 out of 10 stars

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