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Tag Archive: Jake Johnson


With winter settling in and another cold snap crossing the U.S. and the film’s nomination for a Best Animated Film Academy Award, audiences are continuing to discover Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in theaters (reviewed earlier here at borg).  Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse–The Official Movie Special is a new hardcover book going behind the scenes of the movie, and it has a different twist.  The book interviews all three of the film’s directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, who provide different perspectives on working with Phil Lord on the script, and share insight into the pre-production, voice actor recording, and visual effects.

Senior animation supervisor Josh Beveridge recounts the steps of the animation process used for the film, including inkline methodology to make the film look like a comic book, using a large team of animators.  Several pages are devoted to each of Miles Morales and his family, Peter B. Parker, Spider-Man Noir, Gwen Stacy, Peter Porker, and Peni Parker and SP//dr–how each was designed, how each was presented to distinguish their different comic book origins using variations in light, color, and dimension, and how each voice actor approached the performance.  The villains get coverage, too, including the Prowler, Kingpin, Tombstone, and a new Green Goblin and Doc Ock.

The best look at stills from the film released so far can be found in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse–The Official Movie Special.  It also nicely references all the writers and artists that created the various Spider-Verse characters used in the film.  It features concept art and production art from production designer Justin K. Thompson, art director Dean Gordon, and creators Jesús Alonzo Iglesias, Seonna Hong, Patrick O’Keefe, Shiyoon Kim, Yashar Kassai, Naveen Selvanathan, Paul Lasaine, and Craig Kellman.  Voice actors Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, and Hailee Steinfeld also provide contributions.

Take a look inside at a few pages from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse–The Official Movie Special:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The Christmas movie releases began big this weekend with the first out of the gate: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, an animated superhero movie in a year that has seen the animated Incredibles 2 and live action versions of Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and The Wasp, Deadpool 2, and Venom.  Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse holds its own against them all.  A rich story and layered characters in an easy to digest, familiar, multi-verse story make this rise above other recent animated superhero shows.  In-world references to comic books–sporting the main characters on the covers, multi-view panel sequences, and even first-person narrative captions appear pulled from the pages of any real-world Spider-Man book.

The cast list has been publicized for months, and as the trailers promised, the voice actors take the film from good to great.  Familiar–maybe over-used–Spidey villain Kingpin, played by Liev Schreiber, is trying to take control of all the multi-verses with a new weapon that initially pulls in Spider-heroes from five other universes.  Shameik Moore plays star Miles Morales, a new Spider-Man trying to find his way at the beginning stage of his journey in his universe along with Chris Pine (Star Trek, Jack Ryan, Wonder Woman) as your more familiar neighborhood Spider-Man.  After an explosion Miles catches up with another Spider-Man, Peter B. Parker, a view of Parker in another dimension 20 years older, played perfectly (and hilariously) by Jake Johnson (Jurassic World, The Mummy, New Girl).  They are soon joined by cool and confident Spider-Woman aka Gwen “Spider-Gwen” Stacy, voiced by Hailee Steinfeld (BumbleBee, True Grit, Ender’s Game).  Early scenes present lots of great action, including a memorable scene where Miles drags Peter to safety aboard a speeding commuter train, but this story is more about sentiment and humor.  And it gets better.

Three other Spider-heroes arrive.  Rounding out the cast previewed in the trailers is Spider-Man Noir, allowing the great Nicolas Cage another superhero role after his performance as Big Daddy in Kick-Ass (after almost starring in a Tim Burton Superman movie years ago).  A lifelong comic book connoisseur, Cage was born to portray superheroes, and here his Spider-Man is pure perfection.  The oldest of spin-off Spideys emerges with the entrance of Peter Porker aka Spider-Ham (John Mulany), first seen in print back in 1983.  And a newer webslinger, the anime heroine Peni Parker from Earth-14512 (Kimiko Glenn), complete with her high-tech “SP//dr Suit,” gets her own great scenes.  The film features plenty of surprise characters, too.

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Along with a special sneak peek that can be found in theaters at the end of the credits for Marvel’s Venom, a new trailer for the animated Miles Morales Spidey pic Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse has landed this week, revealing some of the key characters fans of the modern comics stories have been waiting for.  It has Shameik Moore as Miles, BumbleBee’s Hailee Steinfeld as Spider-Gwen, Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir, New Girl’s Jake Johnson as Peter Parker, Lily Tomlin as Aunt May, and Liev Schreiber as The Kingpin.  And a few other cool surprises.

DC Entertainment’s latest effort, Aquaman, got its own extended trailer this weekend, too, showing more of the story arc with Jason Momoa‘s Arthur Curry and Amber Heard‘s Mera.   The CGI sharks are the highlight of this trailer, plus Yahya Abdul-Mateen II‘s Black Manta in action, and the first look at Aquaman in a new costume that more closely matches his classic look.

On the small screen Marvel’s Daredevil is back with its third season this month.  Charlie Cox is back as Matt Murdock, with Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, Elden Henson as Foggy, and Vincent D’Onofrio returns as the season’s key villain Wilson Fisk.

And in case you missed it, the new Hellboy movie has a new official poster, featuring Stranger Things’ David Harbour in the updated prosthetics.  And a new wide-angle poster released at New York Comic Con shows a first look at co-stars Milla Jovovich, Daniel Dae Kim, Sasha Lane, and Ian McShane.

Here are the trailers:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you try to get a modern generation of moviegoers to explore the entertainment of the past, you may learn quickly it often just doesn’t work out.  One of the entertainment realms of the past that successfully spanned multiple generations is the Universal Studios monster film series.  The “Universal Monsters” began in the 1920s and stretched into the 1950s, beginning with The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera and continuing on into the “modern” technology of 3D in 1954 with The Creature from the Black Lagoon (reviewed here previously at borg.com).  Kids who grew up in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s continued to watch and re-watch the film series years later.  As the horror genre is concerned, it doesn’t get more “classic” than the Universal Monsters.  Now that we’ve entered the month of Halloween, it’s time to start binge-watching the best of the horror genre, and for audiences of all ages the Universal Monsters is a good place to start.  But for the younger crowd not willing to go for the classics, especially black and white classics, you may want to give the new Universal Studios reboot a try–the new “Dark Universe.”  The introductory chapter to the Dark Universe, this summer’s The Mummy starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella, is now streaming on multiple platforms and available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD

The Mummy won’t be for everyone.  Purists loyal to the classic films are the first group that may not go for it–it doesn’t adhere very much by way look or feel to Boris Karloff’s 1932 original version, although the core concept is similar: resurrecting an ancient Egyptian royal entombed without being mummified, followed by a pursuit to resurrect The Entombed’s lover after The Entombed is brought back to life by an archaeologist.  The other group that may pass on the new film are fans of Universal’s more recent decade-long film series that originally starred Brandon Fraser and Rachel Weisz (and later Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), which spanned seven films in all and an animated television series between 1999 and 2008.  Ultimately the best audience for this year’s version of The Mummy will be audiences looking for a new film to rent or stream during this holiday season with a horror flavor.  The Mummy isn’t a romp like the recent film series or memorable like the original, but it is light as horror goes, full of action and plenty of monsters (actually zombies) without much actual gore, and overall it’s a fun way to step into the Halloween zone for general audiences.  And who doesn’t like a zombie movie?

The Mummy stars Tom Cruise as adventurer/soldier Nick Morton (along the lines of Matt Damon in The Great Wall) who, along with another soldier played by Jake Johnson (New Girl), tries to find buried treasure after Nick romances and steals a treasure map from an archaeologist named Dr. Jennifer Halsey, played by Annabelle Wallis (X-Men: First Class, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword).  Not among Cruise’s top films (see last week’s review here of American Made for that) fans of Cruise movies will still find this in the realm of his Mission: Impossible roles.  The mummy of the title is a woman in this incarnation of the horror tale, Princess Ahmanet, played by Sofia Boutella, in a performance that becomes the best aspect of the film.  As with her several recent performances (Atomic Blonde, Star Trek Beyond, Kingsman: The Secret Service), it’s always exciting to see Boutella immerse herself into a role.  The actress who gained early fame as a dancer in Madonna and Michael Jackson music videos seems to easily take on the physical coordination required for this first monster of the Dark Universe.  One of Ahmanet’s powers is raising the dead into zombie defenders, and in several key action sequences the film becomes a full-scale zombie horror flick.  The zombie factor, plus big-budget production value and stars Cruise and Boutella may be enough to satisfy a broader audience’s desire for something new this Halloween.

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We’re at the beginning of something potentially exciting for moviegoers.  The release of the new Universal Pictures movie The Mummy is just the beginning.  Instead of rebooting or adding another sequel to the trilogy of movies from the most recent Universal series titled The Mummy beginning back in 1999, Universal is taking the lead of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and creating a new franchise of interconnected movies.  Beginning this year with The Mummy co-starring Star Trek Beyond’s Sofia Boutella, Tom Cruise, and Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll, the classic “Universal Monsters” will be resurrected (literally and figuratively), including Frankenstein’s monster, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, and Bride of Frankenstein.  Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll represents the first step in that crossover networking of characters across movies that Marvel does so well.

Cruise and Crowe are bringing the star power to ignite this franchise, with Boutella, the latest and greatest kickass action heroine actress, playing a role that evokes for us the power and energy of the DC Comics character Enchantress (who appeared as the villain in last year’s Suicide Squad).   In the latest trailer for the film, released this week, Cruise is clearly in his signature Mission Impossible mode, and the entire trailer has a Raiders of the Lost Ark vibe.  The movie has received buzz for Cruise continuing to rack up performances doing his own stunts, this time in an actual Zero G environment for the airplane attack scenes.

Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, known for rebooting and remaking anything and everything they can get theirs hands on, are part of the team putting this new universe together.  Kurtzman will direct The Mummy.  Speaking of the Marvel universe, the music for the film will be created by Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: The Dark World, and Iron Man 3 composer Brian Tyler, also known for music in several franchises including The Expendables, Now You See Me, Fast and the Furious, and Final Destination series, plus Rambo, Sleepy Hollow, Aliens v. Predator, and Star Trek Enterprise. 

Check out the new trailer for The Mummy:

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mummy-boutella

The release of Universal Pictures new movie The Mummy is already off to a bumpy start, with its release date already bumped a few times.  Instead of a reboot or sequel to the trilogy of movies from the most recent Universal series titled The Mummy beginning in 1999, Universal is branching out to have a go at something like Marvel Comics and DC Comics franchises of sprawling films.  The classic “Universal Monsters” will be resurrected (literally and figuratively), including Frankenstein’s monster, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, and Bride of Frankenstein.  The go-to producer team for every genre remake these days–Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, is being tapped to put this new universe together.  Kurtzman will direct The Mummy.

Tom Cruise headlines the new film in his next Mission Impossible-style action role, along with Russell Crowe, whose role sounds even more interesting.  He will play Dr. Jekyll.  Star Trek Beyond star Sofia Boutella is the mummy of the title.  The movie co-stars Annabelle Wallis (X-Men: First Class), Jake Johnson (New Girl, Jurassic World), and Courtney B. Vance (The Hunt for Red October, Terminator Genisys).

the-mummy-reboot-poster

Sean Daniel, who produced the most recent Mummy trilogy, is also a producer on the reboot movie.

Check out the above poster released this week, and this first teaser for The Mummy:

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Sphere car

Review by C.J. Bunce

In simplest terms, Jurassic World is simple entertainment on a big scale–a feast for the eyes.  But for all its incredible special effects and fantastic futuristic technology, Jurassic World proves the maxim George Lucas laid out in reference to the success behind the original Star Wars–“Special effects are a tool, a means of telling a story… A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.”  And that sums up Jurassic World, as a film and a 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, and digital release–the umpmillionth variation on the Frankenstein how-not-to-build-a-monster story, and the latest twist on Michael Crichton’s original look at a theme park gone bad in his movie Westworld.

Touted in its marketing as the #1 movie of the year, and proven out at the box office, in many way Jurassic World is a remake and certainly an homage to the original Jurassic Park.  More than twenty years after the devastation caused in Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully realized, fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by Richard Attenborough’s John Hammond.  You’ll experience deja vu several times as these new characters, and one from the original, fail to learn the lessons of history.  Didn’t the production team watch The Lost World (Jurassic Park II) and Jurassic Park III?  The new theme park is built over the old park where so much went wrong and so many died, including leaving the original park all derelict and intact as it was in the last scene of the original movie, including leaving old Jurassic Park jeeps around for a modern, distracted teenager to magically restore to driving condition in a single scene.  Dinosaur battle shots mirror those from the original, including the finale, although despite new technology the dinosaurs don’t seem as “real” here.  Jurassic World seems to repeatedly search for a scene to match that “objects in mirror are closer than they appear” scene in the original.  Michael Giacchino’s score misses the wonder and excitement of John Williams’s original themes.  Although the effort is there, no single scene in Jurassic World captures the startling jumps and wows of Jurassic Park.

JW blu-ray 3d

With four script/story writers for Jurassic World, it’s obvious why the story failed to deliver.  Although we note above that George Lucas knows storytelling, he is also now famous for the stilted dialogue of his Star Wars prequels.  The story team in Jurassic World offers up similarly strange words from the mouths of its actors–things no one would possibly say.  And we can’t believe these dinosaur monsters are scary when the cast bounces back from each near-death experience so quickly.  Even the worst of the characters, the youngest boy (who is a walking disaster) seems barely affected by the death going on around him for half the film.

The real conflicts within the script can be found in the strange parallels and inconsistencies.  For one, director Colin Trevorrow has been quoted as saying his inspiration for the film was an image of a little girl texting in front of a T-Rex behind her.  The corporate bad guy theme that underlies the plot is that no one cares about dinosaurs anymore, they are old news, and audiences needs something bigger and better.  You can just see Trevorrow and executive producer Steven Spielberg laughing all the way to the bank over the irony here.  The message, as delivered in the climax, is “bigger isn’t always better” and that often the original, the classic, offers up the best experience.  Yet Jurassic World hammers into us the over-sized fantasies of Godzilla and King Kong instead of the science-fictional world that made a success of Jurassic Park.

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