You can see director Jon Watts and the filmmakers struggling to replicate the magic of their first film. But its charm came not from an overabundance of jokes, but from turning Spidey into a school hallway hero whose biggest challenge was girls. Jetting off to Venice, Prague and London and busting up landmarks brings it more in line with the rest of the overly dense Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The John Wick action series doesn’t get bogged down in such silly trivialities as character development, plot, dialogue, morals or any of the usual rubrics most films follow. Instead, these fun flicks are just loosely connected, extremely violent fight scenes starring Neo from “The Matrix.” And why the hell not?
Being obvious nostalgia bait for children of the ’90s, director Rob Letterman’s film has no right to be as good or well-crafted as it is. The plot takes major twists that come as legitimate surprises, and seeing those old cartoon characters plopped into our world rendered in CGI is enormously satisfying.
Would it have been tacky to visually play up the connection between Tolkien’s harrowing experiences on the WWI battlefield and his depiction of Mordor in the books? Perhaps. Beyond the briefest of allusions, Karukoski tastefully leaves that to the imagination. But this — like much of the film — is a tastefulness that induces sleepiness. Tolkien’s estate was not supportive of this film, understandably: The legendary author’s work is memorial enough.
At a certain point, the pattern of Knoop’s reticence, then acquiescence to Albert’s masquerade becomes slightly repetitive, but JT LeRoy still gives a compelling inside look at the head-scratching hoax that succeeded, in part, due to musty notions of what a hot shot writer ought to look like.
The movie is smartly paced, and Sprouse (“Riverdale”) and Richardson make for one of the more adorable pairs in recent films. You not only want what’s best for them, but believe it can actually happen.
If you’re looking for a poverty-porn fix, Donnybrook ought to hit the spot. If not, you’ll likely find this a pointless exercise in gratuitous violence that imagines itself deep because it’s got an opera-heavy score.
This “Poppins” sequel has an entirely new score, with exactly none of the cherished songs from the great Julie Andrews movie. Once you accept that, you can move on — and enjoy the countless other joys this follow-up has to offer. It will be a jolly-er holiday with Mary Poppins Returns.