Critics Consensus

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Is Certified Fresh

Plus, Mortal Engines is clunky, The Mule is minor Eastwood, Deadpool doesn't work quite as well without the naughty bits, and If Beale Street Could Talk is Certified Fresh.

by | December 13, 2018 | Comments

This weekend at the movies, we’ve got a superb hero (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, featuring the voices of Shameik Moore and Jake Johnson), a steampunk future (Mortal Engines, starring Hera Hilmar and Hugo Weaving), a curmudgeonly cocaine courier (The Mule, starring Clint Eastwood and Laurence Fishburne), and a fundraiser to fudge cancer (Once Upon a Deadpool, starring Ryan Reynolds and Fred Savage). What are the critics saying?

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) 97%

The world has seen a few different iterations of Peter Parker since 2002’s Spider-Man, including a franchise reboot in 2012 and Tom Holland’s introduction as an MCU character in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. But we’ve never seen any version of Miles Morales on the big screen, and that all changes with Sony’s animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Shameik Moore provides the voice of Miles, a regular teen living in an alternate universe Brooklyn who is, yes, bitten by a radioactive spider and develops powers initially out of his control. Thanks to the shenanigans of local mobster Kingpin, however, Miles comes into contact with spider-people — including a middle-aged Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) — from parallel universes who team up with him to save the day. Critics say Into the Spider-Verse benefits from a fresh, well-told story and an impressive voice cast that includes Bryan Tyree Henry, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Nicolas Cage, Lily Tomlin, and a few surprise guests. It’s not only a feast for the eyes, but a fun, kinetic, heartfelt, and highly engaging treat for the whole family.

Mortal Engines (2018) 26%

Back in 2009, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson began developing a film based on a dystopian steampunk novel written by British author Philip Reeve, but there was little to report on it for several years. Then in 2016, frequent collaborator Christian Rivers was announced as the film’s director, and he hoped to utilize new technology and the skills he learned working with Jackson and special effects house WETA to bring the book to life. The result is this week’s Mortal Engines, which takes place in a post-apocalyptic Europe and centers on a young woman who spearheads a rebellion against the tyrannical leader of the mobile, predatory city of London. Critics say it’s a whole lot to absorb in one sitting, and it’s exacerbated by a convoluted plot that largely drains the story of its momentum. As expected, the visuals are consistently impressive, but even with seasoned pros like Hugo Weaving and Stephen Lang in key roles, this is one overstuffed fantasy audiences may find a little suffocating.

The Mule (2018) 67%

Clint Eastwood hasn’t starred in a film since 2012’s Trouble with the Curve, and he hasn’t directed himself in a film since 2008’s Gran Torino, which makes this week’s The Mule a rare beast. And like five of the seven films Eastwood has helmed since Gran Torino, The Mule is based on a true story, specifically about a struggling horticulturalist who unwittingly — at first, anyway — becomes a cocaine courier for a Mexican drug cartel. The job comes easy to the unassuming, inconspicuous 90-year-old, until the DEA come sniffing around and he’s forced to make some tough decisions. Critics say The Mule is, at times, surprisingly poignant and charming despite its subject matter, and Eastwood certainly feels at home in the role, but it also lacks a certain dramatic heft, and it can’t help feeling a bit inconsequential compared to his full body of work.

Once Upon a Deadpool (2018) 53%

Deadpool 2 hit theaters earlier this year in May, opening to an impressive $301 million in global box office earnings and confirming the success of the first film wasn’t a fluke. Naturally, the next logical step would be to recut the same film for a tamer PG-13 rating, shoot some framing scenes with Fred Savage, and re-release it as a holiday film, right? No? Well, if any character can pull it off, it’s Deadpool, and if you’re wondering why you should consider seeing it, Ryan Reynolds has provided a reason: $1 of every Once Upon a Deadpool ticket sold will be donated to the (temporarily renamed) nonprofit foundation Fudge Cancer. So if you were hesitant to take your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews, godchildren, or anyone else under age to Deadpool 2, there’s now a slightly family-friendlier version you can watch together and help fudge cancer in the process.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • The Second Time Around (2018) , about a woman who finds a connection with a man in her senior home, is at 86%.
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (2019)Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel about a young Harlem woman whose relationship with her fiancé is tested when he is arrested for a crime he did not commit, is Certified Fresh at 93%.
  • Capernaum (Capharnaüm) (2018) , a Lebanese drama about a boy living on the streets who sues his negligent parents, is at 76%.
  • The Quake (Skjelvet) (2018) , a Norwegian disaster film about a major earthquake that rips through Oslo, is at 71%.
  • Maine (2018) , about a married woman on a solo hike of the Appalachian Trail who bonds with another hiker she meets, is at 67%.
  • The House That Jack Built (2018) , starring Matt Dillon in Lars von Trier’s dark profile of a serial killer reflecting on his murders, is at 61%.
  • Bird Box (2018) , starring Sandra Bullock in Susanne Bier’s thriller about a woman trying to survive a mysterious affliction that has decimated the world’s population, is at 61%.

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