Tag Archives: Jake Johnson

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin

Spider-Man Into the Spider- Verse

Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey
Writers: Phil Lord (screenplay by), Rodney Rothman (screenplay by)
Stars: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Zoë Kravitz, Lily Tomlin, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine, Kathryn Hahn

Where do I begin reviewing this Marvel (pardon the pun) without sounding like a total sycophant. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse not only took me by surprise but knocked me for six with its stylishly stunning animation, taking a combination of 2-D and 3-D effects to create a modern masterpiece. Am I coming on too strong? Well I don’t care. Using the largest collection of animators for a Sony Pictures Animation project (somewhere in the region of 180 individuals) The technical aspects of this film is half of what makes this film a ten on ten (I don’t normally rate films in this fashion) and the other half being a combination of great characters and a strong storyline. A combination of various “Spider” superheroes an hour in really surprised me and knocked me off my stride for a few moments before appreciating how the filmmakers managed to create these different styles but somehow make them fit into this film. Sounds crazy right?

Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his reality and meets his counterparts from other dimensions to stop a threat to all reality. I have known about Morales for a number of years now and when it was announced that the character was finally appearing in a cinematic release, it was music to my ears. My brother Kevan introduced me to this character a while ago and it intrigued me on how the character would be accepted and received by the Spider-Man traditionalists. Fear not.

Spider-Man Noir, Peni Parker and Spider-Ham with all of their different perspectives shouldn’t work on paper but thank the maker for Spider-Ham. The MCU for many years now has mastered the right of humour in the darkest of places to perfection. Well here Spider-Ham is to an extent the “Comic Relief” in this film. That’s not to say the character is two dimensional, he has done heart warming scenes also. Peni Parker is a welcome addition that I liked. The Anime style gives the character a real bubbly feel and is the mirror opposite of Spider-Man Noir. The character wouldn’t be out of place in Watchmen. In fact, Noir reminded me of the incarnation of DC’s Batman character in Gotham By Gaslight and was clearly a hero from yesteryear.

Peter Parker on the other hand surprised me. It’s crazy saying this due to the film being an animation but the character doesn’t waste any screen time. Parker is flawed in many ways mentally and physically (check the gut on him) he still has those loveable characteristics that make you route for him and this film reminds you of this.

The cast is amazing. Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Zoë Kravitz, Lily Tomlin, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine, and Kathryn Hahn all play their part. At no point do you pinpoint the voices to the ensemble of talent. Their audio participation just threads through the fabric with ease.

Overall Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse is a new take on a classic character. The introduction to Miles Morales will surely have been a tie dipping exercise for the studio testing the water with their fan base. They need not to have worried as Miles is a great interpretation of a character we all ready know but want to know more about this kid and how he will deal with “with great power, comes great responsibility” I really hope they go one further with a live action film in the next few years. Technically a masterpiece and a storyline on par with the visuals means I can’t recommend this enough. A must see!

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Win It All (2017) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin

WIN IT ALL.png

Director: Joe Swanberg
Writers: Jake Johnson,  Joe Swanberg
Stars: Jake Johnson,  Rony Shemon,  Morgan Ng, Joe Lo Truglio

Jake Johnson is Eddie Garrett who agrees to look after a bag for an acquaintance who is heading to prison. The deal being if Eddie can look after the bag for the six month duration he will earn himself a $10,000 payout.

When he discovers there is cash in the bag, he’s unable to resist the temptation and winds up deeply in debt, due to a gambling problem. Unfortunately for Eddie, when the acquaintances prison release is shortened, Eddie suddenly has a small amount of time to win all the money back.

“Win It All” is a movie with a simple premise. Writers Jake Johnson and Joe Swanberg take this simple story and keep the audience guessing on where Eddie will end up. Will he manage to win it all back? will he work it of? or will he fake his own death and cut his losses? That’s the basis of the story, but there is also the small matter of Eddie’s life style choices.

We are first introduced to Eddie entering a gamblers den at night and can only assume his night wasn’t successful. He mooches of his local shopkeeper for a coffee and a cookie promising to pay him it all back (I assumed he does this to the shop owner quite a bit) and arrives back home in the early hours of the morning to be met by the acquaintance with his proposition. Eddie comes across a loser and a selfish one at that. His brother Ron (Joe Lo Truglio) is forever offering him a job in the family landscaping business in which Eddie doesn’t want it or be any part of it.

When he finally runs up a $20,000 debt he begins to realise that he neeeds to knuckle down and work off the debt with an arrangement with Ron that if he manages to keep his head down for six months and work his socks off, Ron will help him pay off his debt. Just when Eddie is seeing the errors of his old ways and actually looks like getting his life back on track he receives a phone call from his acquaintance informing Eddie he is being released early and this sends Eddie into a panic resulting in gambling again running up a further $30,000 odd on top of his current financial plight.

“Win It All” for me is a delightful movie that has a lot of twist and turns, highs and lows that the simple story premise is compensated with a quality script and brilliant writing by Johnson and Swanberg.

Jake Johnson manages to make the character charming and sometimes lovable although you know he is a bum who promises to change his life for the better on a daily basis but in reality is weak with a gambling addiction. The character Eddie to be fair realises this thanks to his group therapist (Keegan-Michael Key) who manages to get Eddie to accept his irresponsibility and bad decision making is down to him and him alone.

Joe Lo Truglio plays the steadier brother who is a family man proud of the business their father left them to inherit. Lo Truglio is great as the supporting actor in “Win it All” and his character Ron contrasts everything that Eddie is not. Lo Truglio’s performance is great and his comedic timing and delivery helps lighten the seriousness of the situation and storyline.

With Swanberg also directing, the collaboration between him and Johnson appears to work. You can sense they set out to accomplish making the film they wanted. It doesn’t have the switching back in forth timeline of a Tarantino flick or the interconnecting scenes of movies like Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Crash leading up to a climatic connecting finale. It’s straight forward, simple and most of all, beautifully written. A must see.