In the 21st century cinematic universe, the famed web slinger has been reinvented on a number of occasions – from Tobey Maguire to Andrew Garfield to Tom Holland. Spider–Man: IntotheSpider–Verse is the first one that feels truly inventive. Anyone thinking this animated experience would be a sub par spin-off or money grab will find themselves sorely mistaken. This iteration of the iconic hero has a lot of heart, plenty of action, and a warped sense of humor that elicits genuine laughs. Directors Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman (who co-wrote the screenplay along with Phil Lord) have drawn up what is probably the most satisfying Spidey pic on its own terms.
The picture posits the theory that our title character does his Spidey thing in multiple dimensions and in different forms than just Peter Parker. These characters are familiar to fans of the Marvel Comics and even includes Spider-Ham, representing the hero in pig form. He’s here and he’s fabulous. Our primary Spidey here is Miles (voiced by Shameik Moore), a Brooklyn teen with a police officer father and a potentially shady uncle that he admires. Miles attends a prep school and feels lost in his adolescence just like Peter Parker did. He’s a fan of Spider-Man, who is currently fighting Big Apple crime in the manner we’re accustomed to. That’s until bad guy Kingpin (Liev Schrieber) knocks him off, but not before Miles get a radioactive bite that gives him the well-known powers.
What follows is a visually splendid adventure where it’s clear that the makers really adore the character. At the same time, they take him in unforeseen directions that perhaps only the animated format could allow. Miles’s Spidey teams with an aging and out of shape Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) from a different “verse”, along with Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld) and the aforementioned Ham version. There’s others, but part of the fun is watching them appear without me spoiling it.
Plenty of superhero movies take themselves quite seriously and many have succeeded with that tone. GuardiansoftheGalaxy and Deadpool introduced a different dynamic that is evident here. Yet Spider–Verse is not derivative. It manages to take one of the most repeated story arcs in the genre and cleverly turn it on its head. I enjoyed it immensely. The possibilities are many for this particular universe to continue and I’m up for it.
J.K. Rowling’s world of wizardry is back in theaters next weekend with the release of FantasticBeasts: TheCrimesofGrindelwald. It’s the second in a series of five planned features as it looks to conjure up huge box office dollars like predecessor FantasticBeastsandWheretoFindThem did.
Early reviews are out and the reaction is mixed at 56% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. Not even the most acclaimed HarryPotter pics were ever considered awards contenders for major categories. However, down the line technical races are another story.
Two years ago, the first Beasts managed two Oscar nominations: Production Design and Costume Design. It won the latter. There’s no reason to think it couldn’t be a factor in both of those categories again. That said, voters could feel they’ve already honored the franchise with part 1. Visual Effects and Makeup and Hairstyling are in the realm of possibility, if unlikely.
Bottom line: the costumes especially could garner attention, but don’t expect Grindelwald to exceed (and maybe not match) the first movie.
The wizarding world of J.K. Rowling is back next weekend when Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald debuts. This is the follow-up to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which precedes the events of the massive Harry Potter franchise. David Yates (who made the last four Potter flicks and the first Beasts) is back directing. Returning cast members include Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, and Johnny Depp, whose role as the villainous title character will expand from his cameo in the predecessor. Jude Law joins the party as a younger Dumbledore.
There is no doubt that Grindelwald will easily top the charts upon its release, just as all Rowling universe titles have. The real question is how it opens in comparison to 2016’s effort, which premiered on the same November weekend. I believe there’s some solid historical data to consider.
In 2001, the first Potter film (The Sorcerer’s Stone) made $90 million out of the gate. One year later, follow-up Chamber of Secrets made just a tad less at $88 million. This seems like a likely scenario with Grindewald.
The first Beasts took in $74.4 million for its start two years ago and I’ll put the sequel right under that for a low 70s beginning.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opening weekend prediction: $70.1 million
Labor Day weekend brings the sci-fi pic Kin, which hopes to bring in a family and teen audience that have had plenty to see this summer. It’s not based on a YA novel, but it could pass as such an adaptation. That may not be great news as the genre seems to be dwindling.
Jonathan and Josh Baker direct with a cast including Jack Reynor, Myles Truitt, Zoe Kravitz, Carrie Coon, Dennis Quaid, and James Franco as a crime lord (the guy is certainly eclectic).
The Lionsgate release seems to be flying well under the radar and the Labor Day release date doesn’t inspire much confidence in its prospects. This is typically a slow time of year on the box office calendar and I’m getting a bit of a DarkestMinds vibe here.
That means I foresee a holiday debut in the mid single digits.
Kin opening weekend prediction: $3.9 million (Friday to Monday estimate)
Scarlett Johansson gets out of action mode and into comedy mode next weekend when Rough Nights lands in theaters. The R rated flick finds the starlet involved in a bachelorette party gone wrong. Costars include Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Zoe Kravitz, Ilana Glazer, Demi Moore, and Ty Burrell.
Originally titled Rock That Body, the pic will attempt to bring a sizable female audience that made Bad Moms one of the surprise hits of last summer. There is competition in the form of the third weekend of Wonder Woman, which is likely to be banking in the low 30s for that frame.
Johansson could use some good box office fortune after the flop that was this spring’s Ghost in the Shell. Some estimates have Rough Night making around $25 million (higher than the $23 million achieved by Bad Moms out of the gate). I believe the level of competition and lack of buzz will result in a mid teens debut.
Rough Night opening weekend prediction: $15.1 million
Shailene Woodley and company are back next weekend in The Divergent Series: Allegiant, the third entry in the YA adaptations from author Veronica Roth. The dystopian sci fi pic arrives in the same March slot as its predecessors, 2014’s Divergent and last year’s Insurgent. Director Robert Schwentke is back behind the camera and costars include Theo James, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Naomi Watts, Jeff Daniels, Octavia Spencer, and Zoe Kravitz.
Second installment Insurgent saw a slight dip from the first entry. While Divergent debuted to $54 million and eventually grossed $150M domestic, Insurgent opened at $52 million with an overall $130M tally. Reviews for Allegiant haven’t been kind… it sits at 0% currently on Rotten Tomaotes and I look for its returns to continue diminishing. Even the third and fourth Hunger Games pics saw dips from the first two and this should follow suit.
I’ll say this first Allegiant (the second part arrives in March 2017) will be the first of the series to fall below the $50M mark out of the gate with low to mid 40s being more probable.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant opening weekend prediction: $43.7 million
For my Miracles from Heaven prediction, click here:
Oh, what a lovely story it is with Mad Max: Fury Road. Some three decades after George Miller made the third in his Mad Max trilogy, he’s returned to helm this new entry. Obviously, the visual capabilities possible nowadays have advanced exponentially and yet Miller eschews the CGI we’ve grown so accustomed to whenever possible. We also have a new Max in the form of Tom Hardy, who in every way equals the strong and mostly silent charisma that OG Max Mel Gibson brought. And we have action heroine Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who might be the most badass female character in this particular type of genre since Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley.
It is not necessary to know Miller’s original pics to follow Fury Road. Max’s family history from the 1979 original is brought forth, but not explored in any meaningful way. Having said that – if you haven’t seen them, you really should. Instead we have a new story with Max as a captured man in a post apocalyptic world. He’s being held by the evil Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) as a blood donor for an injured War Boy named Nux (Nicholas Hoult). Our main villain controls his land’s water supply and lords over a group of beautiful and captive women that he impregnates to keep his blood line flowing. Hell breaks loose when Furiosa, one of his top errand girls, veers off course on a mission to pick up oil. She takes Joe’s girls with him and Max soon ends up in her presence along with Nux as a near two hour chase ensues.
Along this chase, we learn some fascinating details of Furiosa’s background in particular as this vast and desolate world soon reveals more about itself. And yet the chase rarely stops. Fury Road is an astonishing example of how cinematography, editing, sound, music stunt work, and visual effects can come together. Frankly, it makes most action pictures look small. We have grown highly accustomed to an amazing shot and visual here and there in our Fast and Furious and Mission: Impossible pics and efforts from your Bays and Emmerichs. This is something entirely different and for a fourth feature in a franchise, something that feels completely fresh. For a film not particularly concerned with it, the plot is totally interesting yet Miller and his cowriters know not to spend too much valuable time on backstory.
George Miller and his wizard team hit the gas peddle and fly here. It’s over the top non-stop excitement that is a constant eyeball feast. Fury Road was stuck in what those in Hollywood call “development hell” for thirty years. Who knew it would emerge from that designation as this? An action flick that is truly gorgeously made with characters that we genuinely care about as they hurl furiously down their road back to redemption.