Tag Archives: Phil Lord

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Box Office Prediction

An iconic superhero swings into theaters in yet another iteration next Friday when SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse debuts. This time around, the friendly neighborhood character is animated in a world where multiple individuals can don the spandex. Phil Lord (part of the team behind The Lego Movie) shares writing credit along with co-director Peter Ramsey. Shameik Moore and Jake Johnson both provide voice work for Spidey. Other actors behind the mic include Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Liev Schreiber, Brian Tyree Henry, and Lily Tomlin.

Sony Pictures certainly has reviews on their side as this stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics even claim it’s the overall best of the series (this is now the seventh stand-alone entry focused on the Marvel web slinger). It appears destined for an Oscar nod in Best Animated Feature.

I believe the raves and familiarity with its title character should propel this to pleasing returns. With projections in the $30-$40 million range, I’m estimating SpiderVerse will premiere on the high-end of that spectrum and likely top it.

SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse opening weekend prediction: $48.4 million

For my The Mule prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/05/the-mule-box-office-prediction/

For my Mortal Engines prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/06/mortal-engines-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Over the past 16 years, we’ve witnessed numerous iterations of the famed web slinging superhero Spider-Man. From Tobey Maguire to Andrew Garfield to Tom Holland and two franchise reboots, the character has been omnipresent in our multiplexes. So the idea of an animated version might have seemed like overkill when Sony announced SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse, which creates a world in which multiple people can be the iconic character.

Critical reaction out today suggests otherwise. SpiderVerse stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with over 30 reviews in. Some write-ups claim it’s the best Spidey feature since 2004’s SpiderMan 2. Select others claim it’s the best of the whole bunch (this will be seventh stand-alone entry).

Will Oscar notice? It seems highly likely. That would mean a nod in Best Animated Feature. It marks a fourth near “sure thing “ in that race, including current box office champ Ralph Breaks the Internet and Isle of Dogs. The raves bestowed upon this suggests it could even stand a better chance at winning than those pictures. Yet it could be a tall order to overcome the Pixar juggernaut involving other superheroes – Incredibles 2.

Bottom line: SpiderVerse is into the Animated Feature mix in a major way. It’s out stateside on December 14. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Solo: A Star Wars Story Movie Review

I have an ambivalent feeling about this. And there I am with Solo: A Star Wars Story, which is competently directed and acted, has the impressive battle scenes you expect in this franchise, and manages to be underwhelming at the same time. It is the first occurrence of Disney’s resurgence of the forty-year plus series seeming inconsequential, a feeling that didn’t permeate Rogue One (2016’s first stand-alone entry in the galaxy far far away).

Here is a franchise, more than any other, that elicits strong emotions from its legions of fans both positively and negatively. After all, the original episodes IV-VI trilogy has inspired generations of filmmakers and other blockbusters. Episode I-III sparked a backlash where its multitude of detractors still foam at the mouth speaking of it. Even last year’s The Last Jedi had vigorous supporters and naysayers extolling its virtues or pitfalls.

Solo shouldn’t be picked part in that manner. Oh, it probably will. Yet my reaction is it doesn’t really deserve that much scrutiny. This is basically a breezy heist flick transplanted into a familiar cinematic universe. The backlash of casting a younger actor to fill the shoes of a role Harrison Ford made iconic? It’s not a disaster by any means, but Alden Ehrenreich isn’t memorable either. No surprise but when you hear the words Han Solo after viewing this, you’ll think of the older one with fondness.

The picture shows us a youthful Han wishing to become a pilot and willing to team up with unsavory characters to do so. He has an insubordinate streak that naturally rejects the evil ways of the Empire, but he hardly considers himself a hero. We know better. The love of his current life is Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), who he’s separated from and makes a vow to rescue from Imperial servitude from villainous Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). Han needs a ship to make that happen and that costs money. His mission leads him to partner with thief Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his crew. Oh and there’s a notable Wookie involved and a swagger filled Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). And that ship he finds… like you don’t know…

Han’s journeys take him to multiple galaxies with a second half that feels like one continuous action sequence. There are, of course, nods to the franchise lore. Solo, though, feels the most removed from everything we’ve seen before. If it often has the vibe of a cash grab to fill time between traditional episodes, that’s because it kind of is. Ron Howard took over the behind the camera duties after the well-publicized removal of Christopher Miller and Phil Lord months into production. I didn’t have a strange sense of competing visions while viewing it. If anything, Howard certainly seems like the filmmaker here with its workmanlike sensibilities and lack of genuine style.

The cast is filled with familiar faces putting in serviceable performances. Glover gets a couple of moments to shine, but my favorite supporting work came from the more unfamiliar Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the voice of sassy droid L3. Bettany is a decent villain in a series with previous monumental ones. As mentioned, the conventions of the heist genre are all present with double crosses aplenty.

The Star Wars series is one in which the fans rarely forget a detail. Solo: A Star Wars Story is ultimately rather forgettable. Sure it’s an easy watch, but focusing deeply on it seems like giving it too much credit.

**1/2 (out of four)

Solo: A Star Wars Story Box Office Prediction

The second stand-alone feature set in a galaxy far, far away – Solo: A Star Wars Story roars into multiplexes this Memorial Day Weekend. Alden Ehrenreich takes over the role of a young Han Solo in the part made iconic by Harrison Ford. Costars include Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover as Lando, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany, and, of course, Chewbacca. Ron Howard serves behind the camera in a move that garnered much press attention when he took over from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. They exited the project after creative differences with Disney after months on the job.

Reviews out today are mostly positive with 73% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. That said, that’s the lowest meter of the four entries since the vaunted franchise came back in 2015. Our first spin-off, 2016’s Rogue One, debuted with $155 million one year after the record-breaking grosses of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. These offshoots are not expected to reach the heights of the traditional “episodes”. Solo does certainly have the added bonus of returning a beloved character, even with the natural speculation and some cynicism about another actor playing him.

One thing seems fairly certain: Solo should have no trouble breaking the current Memorial Day record held by 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End which made $139.8 million for its start. Given the extra day of grosses, Han and Chewie could exceed that by over $10 million.

Solo: A Star Wars Story opening weekend prediction: $151.3 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

The LEGO Movie Review

The central theme of The LEGO Movie is ultimately about allowing one’s creative impulses to be set free and not conforming to the set ways of the world. That statement could apply to the directors and writers of this picture, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. A movie based on the timeless LEGO toys might have made its studio a lot of money regardless of its quality. Yet Lord and Miller allow their creativity to run wild and what results is a highly entertaining experience that no doubt will serve as the building block (so to speak) of a new franchise.

We begin in the community of Bricksburg, where regular old construction worker Emmet (Chris Pratt) is perfectly happy with the micro-managed society that’s run with an iron fist (or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene fist, to be technically accurate) by President Business (Will Ferrell). The truth is that the dastardly President has plans to end the LEGO Universe and that Emmet may or may not be The Special or Master Builder (think Chosen One) who must save the world. Emmet’s journey partners him with Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), a hipster who would be the traditional love interest if she weren’t dating Batman… yes, Batman (voiced marvelously by Will Arnett). There’s also a wise old wizard who is naturally voiced by Morgan Freeman and a humorous “good cop/bad cop” character figure voiced by Liam Neeson. The team of resistors to President Business’s schemes journey through visually splendid other worlds such as The Old West and Middle Zealand and even come across friends from a galaxy far far away. This is in addition to a little help from the 2002 NBA All Stars, which includes Shaquille O’Neal.

In case you’re already picking it up, The LEGO Movie is jam packed with pop culture references. There’s a lot here to keep adults smiling as much as the kids. Miller and Lord also get in their digs at corporate culture – many are quite clever, some are a bit well-worn. The voice over work is filled with smart choices and Chris Pratt now has two 2014 film heroes that youngsters will idolize.

There’s a “twist” later in the proceedings that truly did surprise me and it creates a level of emotion that I didn’t expect. It isn’t quite Pixar when it reaches its heart tugging heights (think another animated franchise about toys or Up), but it works very well. Emmet’s main problem for awhile is not believing he has the capability to be exceptional in a world that prides itself in conformity. President Business and others don’t want to allow for the innovations of others. The LEGO Movie shows its audience how important it is to strive to be unique and also be part of a team and that’s a good message for all of us. And kudos to Warner Bros. for allowing its filmmakers the chance to take what could have been an assembly line cash cow and make it something… well, pretty special.

***1/2 (out of four)