An endlessly creative multiversal experience as delivered by the Daniels of Swiss Army Man fame and a bunch of actors, led by legend Michelle Yeoh, going all in on everything they’re given. The continuous supply of glorious and philosophical all-caps WEIRD is evenly matched with the heart of the story, ultimately combining to address the melancholia and entropy of our current universe and beyond.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Ke Huy Quan is back with a beautiful and layered performance, y’all! The Quannassance is now!”
There’s a bit of welcome schlocky Hammer Horror in this new entry into the Spider-Man adjacent genetic anti-hero Sony Playstation Universe (SAGASPU), but not nearly enough. It’s all so suitably hammy and self-serious, but more blood, more horror, and choosing Buffy the Vampire Slayer style prosthetics over CGI would have really sold it. Still, if you dig the weird, messy vibes of Venom and like Matt Smith stealing the spotlight from people, you will find something to enjoy.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “I still stand by my Venom 2 review where I said there is plenty of room for these janky 90s/early 00s style comic book movies amidst the cinematic universes, destined to be played on FX until the end of time. For the bored children. For the drunk bar patrons. For the tired vacationers. For the people, damn it.”
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy successfully brought comic book pages, in all their glorious tone, goofy dialogue, and mustache twirling villains, to the screen. From beginning to end, none of these movies feel like they’re in service to anything other than telling an entertaining, comic book spider-story. Not a wider universe, not box office receipts, and not a need to retain rights or something. These are the clearest, untarnished, wide-eyed Spider-Man movies that I think we’re ever going to see.
Even Spider-Man 3, which I saw in 2007, in a sketchy boardwalk movie theater in Wildwood, New Jersey during a senior year band trip in high school, accurately captures the ways in which comics can falter when they become bloated. Still, a strong humanity shines through these movies even in their corniest and worst moments (I will defend emo Peter on my death bed). Raimi, Maguire, Dunst, Franco (yikes), and the top tier talent jumping in as villains, never let that humanity collapse under the weight of the effects and superheroics. Obviously the prime example of this is Spider-Man 2 and its handling of Dr. Octopus, but at every level of these movies the intention seems to be story and humanity. Some of the effects, dialogue, and MJ’s chronic status as the captured damsel haven’t aged well, but for early 2000s movies I think they acquit themselves pretty nicely.
Also, the subjectivity and insurmountable power of nostalgia is always at play when talking about these flicks. So, they’re just so dang wistful for that reason.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “I am jealous of future college students majoring in Classic Meme Studies because they will be assigned to watch this trilogy for homework, parse out the memes, and listen to Nickelback’s “Hero” for 30% of their grade.”