Weekend film reviews: ‘Spider-Verse,’ ‘Past Lives,’ ‘The Boogeyman’

Written by Amy Ta and Danielle Chiriguayo, produced by Sarah Sweeney

In “Across the Spider-Verse,” Miles Morales is thrown into a multiverse where he meets a team of Spider-people. He is forced to decide what it means to be a hero. Credit: YouTube.

KCRW gets reviews from Witney Seibold, contributor to SlashFilm and co-host of the podcast “Critically Acclaimed,” and Katie Walsh, film reviewer for the Tribune News Service, the Los Angeles Times, and The Wrap.

“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”

Your neighborhood-friendly Spider-Man, Miles Morales, is thrown into a multiverse where he meets a team of Spider-people. He is forced to decide what it means to be a hero.

Walsh: “This is a two-hour and 20-minute movie. And it feels like a blur of color and light. I couldn't believe that it was over as quickly as it was. It just goes by in such a flash. It's an incredibly immersive, visual experience. I do recommend sitting very close to the screen, although I'm sure it's amazing if you sit farther back too. I was just very close, and I felt like I fell into this pool of incredible artwork and character. I felt like there was sort of references to abstract expressionism and dance and all of these different art forms that we've seen over the years, but you still are able to hold on to these characters.” 

Seibold: “There's a villain in it that looks like he came out of a Leonardo DaVinci sketchbook. … There's a spider punk character played by Daniel Kaluuya. And he constantly looks like he's ripped off of a punk rock flier. He’s rumbled and strange-looking. It does become a little bit much after a while. Visually, it's wonderful. But in terms of story and twists, it begins to pile on after a while. The movie is over two hours in length, which is unusual for an animated feature. This is actually only one-half of a two-part mega sequel. So it's difficult for me to criticize it properly because I feel like it's not finished.

“Past Lives”

Two childhood friends from South Korea reconnect as adults in New York decades later. It’s writer and director Celine Song’s feature debut. 

Walsh: “I love this film because of the way that Celine Song treats time. And the story is about time. It's about flashes of memory and 12 years and 24 years, but then also two minutes. And she's very patient in the way that she treats some of these moments. She will show two characters waiting for a car for two minutes. And there's so much tension and all of these things that are left unsaid between these characters. But we are willing to sit there in this moment as the clock is ticking. I think that it really ties into the theme of all of these lifetimes and all of these moments of fate that bring people together, and the kind of randomness or fatedness of the world.” 

More: KCRW’s conversation with “Past Lives” director Celine Song

“The Boogeyman”

This horror-thriller is about a high school student who struggles with her mother’s death. A supernatural entity later ends up at her home. It stars Sophie Thatcher of “Yellowjackets” fame. 

Seibold: “It doesn't do anything new. …  It is based on a story that was written in the 70s. Maybe that's why it has a bit of an old-fashioned quality to it. But more than anything, it just does a really predictable story relatively well.”

“Shooting Stars”

This is about Lebron James and his superstar high school basketball team. It’s based on a book of the same name by James and Buzz Bissinger, and stars Caleb McLaughlin from “Stranger Things.”

Walsh: “There was a documentary in 2008 called ‘More Than a Game,’ which is about this same story. A very well-received documentary. So they have basically made this documentary, but they're also adapting the book into this high school sports, very generic, the-team-wins-the-game story. I don't think this movie needed to be made at all, and it is not very good.”

Seibold: “Watching an actual basketball game is more dramatic than this movie. I'm not really sure what the arc or the story, or the thrust, or even the point was. It seems that LeBron James was once a teenager, and he played a lot of basketball when he was a teenager, and he had a good time with his friends. And that's the whole point of the movie.”