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Fun animated film not only spotlights new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, who took over from Peter Parker in the comics in 2011, but it’s alternate universe plot cleverly gives us five other versions of the classic character, too.

The story finds the villainous Kingpin (voiced by Liev Schreiber) building a particle accelerator with Dr. Olivia Octavius, a female Doctor Octopus (Kathryn Hahn), to go to a parallel universe to retrieve his dead wife and son…deaths he blames Spider-Man for. This not only brings a radioactive spider into this universe to bite Brooklyn teen Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), but Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld), an older Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) with her robot “SP//dr” and Spider-Man Noir (a perfectly cast Nicholas Cage), who only appears in black and white. The newly empowered Miles must now, somehow, learn to be a hero, stop the Kingpin before he destroys NYC and return the five spider-variations to their appropriate dimensions.

The plot synopsis above sounds complicated, but flows very easily thanks to a clever script by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman. The film is also very well directed by the trio of Rothman, Peter Ramsey and Bob Persichetti, who bring an energetic and colorful style to the proceedings. They capture the old fashioned heroics, but with a very contemporary and eye-catching visual presentation. It uses both traditional and innovative animation, mixing styles and techniques while providing an involving story. With Marvel now making Spider-Man movies with Tom Holland as Parker, it would be interesting to see a Sony led series with Miles as Spidey, animated or not. There is also a nice mix of music to go along with the almost non-stop action and the film doesn’t forget to slow down, here and there, to gives us some emotional resonance between characters. The stuff be tween Miles and his dad (Brian Tyree Henry) really works and we can see how Miles gets his sense of right and wrong from his policeman father. It gives the film a nice emotional core, which adds weight to the drama and action. With six films…and a seventh on the way…and two roles in other movies, that’s eight appearances of the Spider-Man character in the new millennium alone. Spider-Verse finds a way to make the character fresh, again…and that’s quite an accomplishment.

The vocal cast are all superb with Moore doing a wonderful job as Miles and Jake Johnson ditto as the older, grumpier Peter Parker. Hailee Steinfeld again proves a star in the making as the spunky Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman, while Cage is perfectly fitting here as the gloomy Spider-Man Noir, a cross between Philip Marlowe and Spidey. We also get an array of Spider-Man villains along with Kingpin and Doc Ock, such as Green Goblin (Jorma Taccone), Tombstone ( Marvin Jones III), The Scorpion (Joaquín Cosio) and The Prowler (a surprise reveal). An eclectic, but very solid voice cast. Interesting how they made such a large cast of characters work when the big budget live-action films just seemed bloated and overcrowded.

Overall, this flick was a lot of fun and didn’t skimp on substance and emotional depth for it’s story. That story flows very well, thanks to skilled direction and a sharp script and the mix of animation styles is exceptionally well done. A solid effort all around that’s a real treat for Spider-Man fans and better than some of the recent live-action flicks. Watch till the end of the credits for a hilarious extra scene.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) webs.





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valley girl



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Valley Girl is basically an 80s Romeo and Juliet about sweet valley girl Julie (Deborah Foreman), who meets Hollywood punk rocker Randy (Nicholas Cage) and falls in love. Depite being from two different worlds, the two are inseparable, until Julie’s friends (including Pee Wee’s Big Adventure’s E.G. Daily) start to show their disapproval of Randy and her ex-boyfriend (Forbidden World’s Michael Bowen) makes moves to try to get her back. Will the love between these two last, or will they be separated forever by the agendas of those around them?

Flick is a quirky, fun romantic comedy/drama directed by Martha Coolidge (Real Genius) from a script by actor/writer Wayne Crawford (Barracuda) and Andrew Lane. It’s become a bit of a cult classic and with it being just so 80s, with a great soundtrack of 80s music, one can see why. It’s filled with nostalgic charm and that only adds to the entertainment the film delivers. As a movie itself, it’s not a masterpiece. Coolidge’s style is a bit stiff and the script is not the strongest, but all things considered, it’s still an offbeat and amusing star-crossed romance and a charming and colorful little movie all the same. The characters are not as stereotypical as you might think, even if Cage’s punk is far more Hollywood’s idea of one than an actual representation. There is some depth to Foreman’s Julie and Cage’s rebellious Randy that makes them a bit more realistic and oddly more engaging than the type of teens that normally inhabit this kind of high school romance, especially an 80s one.

As for our leads…This was Cage’s second flick after playing a minor character in Fast Times At Ridgemont High (which would make a nice double feature with this) and you can see the same kind of offbeat performance that he is now famous for. He is not as over-the-top as he has been seen playing and that touch of restraint makes his Randy a likable yet odd sort that does contrast perfectly Foreman’s Julie. Foreman is certainly sweet and charming and far less of a Vally Girl than her friends who later try to end her relationship with Randy. She’s smart, pretty and portrays well a teen who is both fascinated and confused by her current beau being far different than she’s used to dating. Opposites attract and here it is well portrayed by our actors.

Overall, this is not a great flick in the basic sense, but is still very charming and fun. The added nostalgia of all the hair, fashions and music elevate it very high on the nostalgia scale, especially if you were a teen in those days. The cast are all endearing and charming and help give this little film a bit of an offbeat edge, thus making it less stereotypical than it could have been. A cult classic and deservedly so.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 pink pumps, for sure!

valley girl rating






Track Listing from the Soundtrack CD

1. “A Million Miles Away” – The Plimsouls

2. “Johnny, Are You Queer?” – Josie Cotton

3. “Eyes Of A Stranger” – Payolas

4. “Angst In My Pants” – Sparks

5. “Who Can It Be Now?” – Men At Work

6.”Everywhere At Once” – The Plimsouls

7.” I La La La Love You” – Pat Travers’ Black Pearl

8. “He Could Be The One” – Josie Cotton

9. “Love My Way” – Psychedelic Furs

10. “Jukebox (Don’t Put Another Dime)” – The Flirts

11. “The Fanatic” – Felony

12. “She Talks In Stereo” – Gary Myrick & The Figures

13. “Oldest Story In The World” – The Plimsouls

14. “School Is In” – Josie Cotton

15. “I Melt With You” – Modern English