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What If? Episodes 1-3 Review



After the earth-shattering conclusion of Avengers: Endgame in 2019 followed by a whole year of nothing in 2020, Marvel Studios have made their triumphant return in 2021. WandaVision proved they could take on a sitcom, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier saw Marvel tackle race issues, Loki opened up so many doors and timelines for the MCU to head down going forward and Black Widow saw the OG Avenger finally receive her own film. But what seems like their most ambitious leap yet is about to launch on Disney+. ‘What If…?’ is the studio’s very first foray into animation.

The series explores alternate timelines in the MCU, begging fans to ponder the question what if? What if things had happened slightly differently? For instance, the very first episode asks, what if it was Peggy Carter not Steve Rogers that took the super soldier serum? Each episode in the series runs for about half an hour and asks a different question leading to alternate scenarios in the MCU.

The show sees the return of many fans’ favourite characters with lots of the original cast members returning to voice their superhero counterparts. Among the top billed cast returning are Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Hemsworth, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston as well as the final performance of Chadwick Boseman who will voice T’Challa in four episodes. But beyond the big names the show also sees the return of many of the smaller characters that fans never thought they’d see again. Clark Gregg returns as Agent Phil Coulson, Toby Jones is back as Dr Zola and Seth Green even reappears as classic Marvel character Howard the Duck.

The show is pulled together by The Watcher, voiced by Jeffrey Wright who narrates the series and guides us through the countless possibilities across the multiverse like Rod Sterling leading us through The Twilight Zone. What If proves that Marvel are willing to have a complete change of pace. The show is nothing ground-breaking and from the first three episodes it doesn’t appear to have much connection to the wider MCU but it’s a break from explosive big budget live-action films and TV shows with incredibly high production values.

Each episode offers up some familiarity, not just with the characters but with some of the situations too, however it injects these familiar circumstances with the unexpected. Each episode is filled with action, emotion, comedy and so much more in a way that matches the films, but the animation makes it feel incredibly unique. Although the first episode which sees Agent Carter injected with the super soldier serum and becoming Captain Carter instead of Steve Rogers as Captain America does feel a bit too derivative and too similar to Captain America: The First Avenger. There are lots of call backs that MCU superfans will recognise and enjoy with many shots being recreated only this time they’re animated, and it is nice to hear characters that we never thought we’d see or hear again like Stanley Tucci’s Dr Erskine.

Of the first three episodes, number one is the weakest. It’s a strong episode but two and three have a lot more to play with and make use of the altered scenarios much more. Episode two sees the return of a big bad we never expected to see again so soon and the third includes an insight into what fans know as ‘Fury’s Big Week’ when Nick Fury was assembling the Avengers- only not everything goes to plan this time around.

What If flips the MCU on its head and has countless possibilities for the future. A second series with nine more animated adventures is already in production. Writer A.C. Bradley has an enormous wealth of material to choose from with any moment since 2008’s Iron Man being fair game.

There’s enough familiarity in the characters, the actors voicing them and some of the situations to make it retain the MCU feel we all love but there’s also enough small changes to characters to make the show really interesting and fun to watch. We get to see characters we never expected to make us laugh cracking jokes and we get to see things that could never happen in live action as Marvel really embrace the animated format.

It is a bit disappointing to hear certain characters not being voiced by the same actors and it does feel a bit off. You can immediately tell when it’s not the original actor voicing the role and it does take away from the level of inter-connectedness the rest of the MCU has had. Hearing characters like Black Widow and Tony Stark being not being voiced by their usual actors that have played their parts so well after the past decade is quite disheartening but nonetheless there are still an impressive array of world class actors returning to their roles.

What If has beautiful animation and is a nice shift away from the usual Marvel formula. It’s much smaller, more contained stories than we’re used to from them but it’s entertaining and nothing too serious. It’s a good, fun time for those looking for something a bit different from Marvel.

The first episode of What If…? will premiere on Disney+ on Wednesday, August 11.

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‘Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse’ Review | A Jaw-Dropping Spectacle



After their mind-blowing “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” Oscar-winning producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller alongside directors Kemp Powers, Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin K. Thompson and Sony Animation truly break even more ground with how much further they’ve pushed this incredible art form. While its predecessor’s visuals were on another level, “Across the Spider-Verse” manages to push the boundaries even further with animation creating a superhero epic with artistic flair, character-driven storytelling, and dazzling, swinging sequences which are visually jaw-dropping and groundbreaking not only for animation but the genre as a whole. 

It’s truly an epic feat in animation and I must acknowledge the hundreds of artists at Sony Animation/Sony Pictures Imageworks for creating this work of art. From the striking comic book aesthetics of having the characters’ skin flecked with half-tone dots, to the psychedelic fusion of animation techniques. The film’s distinct art styles are made even more compelling especially watching it on the big screen. These new worlds are aesthetically audacious as I became immersed in these jaw-dropping visuals that amplified the narrative. There’s Earth-65 which is where Gwen’s (Hailee Steinfeld) Spider-Woman hails from, her watercolour world was visually spectacular as it changed colours with the mood, this required a new watercolour and mood ring simulation tool which took 18 months to figure out how to teach the computer to paint it. Earth-50101, home to Pavitr Prabhakar (Karan Soni), based on the Spider-Man India comics, which they dubbed “Mumbattan” a mash-up of Mumbai and Manhattan, this world is made using exotic inks and offset-printed so the colours crossed the line showcasing an immersive feeling. Rebellious New London, inhabited by Daniel Kaluuya’s Hobbie, the Spider-Punk is based on poster collages. Homemade torn and cut. And Nueva York, a neo-futuristic world from Marvel 2099 inspired by the illustrations of Syd Mead, where Spider-Man 2099 Miquel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac) lives alongside the Headquarters for The Spider-Society.

Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation’s SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE.

Okay, let’s do this one last time… “Into the Spider-Verse” delighted fans with its vibrant pop of colours, exhilarating score and soundtrack, and stunning animation. We met the young teen, Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), who lives in Brooklyn, New York, who gets bit by a radioactive spider and gains super-spider abilities. While struggling to find who he is supposed to be, the brilliant Morales attends Brooklyn Visions Academy, a school for the academically gifted. Morales is passionate about his artwork and graphic design. His parents, though so loving, are embarrassingly overbearing. His father is a police officer and his mother is a nurse. Miles’ uncle Aaron (voiced by Mahershala Ali) is also the Prowler, as Miles soon learns. When Miles gets bitten by the radioactive spider. Once he wakes up with spider powers, Miles returns to the subway station and finds the dead spider glitching on the ground with “Alchemax 42” written on its back. Miles meets Peter Parker’s Spider-Man. Spider-Man fights the Green Goblin but gets caught in the super-collider. As a result, all the Spider-Men who have been bitten by a radioactive spider from other universes are brought into Miles’ universe. He meets Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), Peter Porker AKA Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), and Peni Parker.

Once Miles discovers Peter B. Parker, he tells him he needs a mentor. Though Peter B. Parker is an empty shell of the hero — and man — he used to be, taking Miles under his wing reawakens the Spider-Man he once was. Miles and the rest of his Spider-Man allies successfully defeat Kingpin and destroy the super-collider. Through his experience, Miles realises who he is and discovers what it truly means to be Spider-Man.

Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation’s SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE.

However Earth-1610 is where we continue the story and we are reunited with “Brooklyn’s one and only Spider-Man” After reuniting with Gwen Stacy, Brooklyn’s full-time, friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man is catapulted across the Multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its very existence. However, when the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles finds himself pitted against the other Spiders. He must soon redefine what it means to be a hero so he can save the people he loves most. This sequel is really important for Mile’s journey which is emotionally resonant as the first one, at its core “Across The Spider-Verse” is about a hero finding himself in a world that doesn’t seem made for him. This hero’s journey of self-discovery takes him to the edges of worlds beyond imagination — right to the cliff-hanging ending of this movie — and what he finds there are the human vulnerabilities that allow us to be heroes. Miles’ relationship with his parents has become strained but during the movie what really got me is how much they truly love Miles and are worried for their son. There’s a touching moment between mother and son, where he can’t tell her that he’s Spider-Man. She can’t figure out what he’s keeping from her. Raising a teen sound terrifying but all Rio (Luna Lauren Velez) wants is for the world to love her boy the way she does and through an emotional and incredible vocal performance from Luna Lauren Velez we see the love she has through the character’s eyes as she makes him promise to never forget how much he means to her.

Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation’s SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE.

Shameik Moore is the MVP as Miles thanks to a soulful and stirring performance, while Hailee Steinfeld gives a spectacular co-starring role for Gwen Stacy who was also bitten by a radioactive spider. And since then, she’s been the one and only Spider-Woman- at least in her dimension. displaying her expert web-slinging abilities to assist a couple of her fellow Spideys. With her cool confidence and graceful moves — not to mention her sleek, hooded costume — she makes being a superhero look like a breeze. And she definitely makes a big impression on that film’s newest Spider-Man, Miles Morales. But Gwen’s full story isn’t as simple as her brief recap makes it seem. No Spider-Hero ever has it that easy. “Across The Spider-Verse offers a closer look at Gwen and her life back in her own world. It’s a coming-of-age story for both these teenage superheroes as they’re both dealing with the solitude of being the one and only Spideys in their dimension, plus each has their own individual struggles as well. With this sequel, Gwen is dealing with her relationship with her father, and the shift in their dynamic. She’s becoming her own person and all she’s ever longed for is to be someone her dad would be proud of. The thought that her father might disapprove of her secret double life as Spider-Woman is incredibly difficult for Gwen And, like Miles, Gwen’s journey in “Across the Spider-Verse” involves figuring out her place in the world and how to be true to herself and what she believes in.

Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation’s SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE.

Parent-child relationships factor into the storylines of most of the Spider-Heroes in “Across the Spider-Verse.” Some, like Gwen and Miles, are trying to figure out how to deal with keeping their true selves a secret from their parents, while others, like Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) and the newly introduced Jess Drew (Issa Rae), are navigating their roles as Spider-Parents.

One of the biggest surprises stored in this film is the stunningly hilarious, quirky, and intimidating new villain The Spot (Jason Schwartzman) When Miles Morales first encounters The Spot, the bumbling, overconfident goon seems to be just another bad guy. He’s currently trying to steal an ATM from a local convenience store, and he’s not exactly doing a great job. However, once Miles begins fighting the villain, The Spot leads Spider-Man on a teleporting chase across the entire city. Once the two’s chase concludes, The Spot reveals a surprising connection he has with Brooklyn’s One and Only Spider-Man. Spot required 17 new tools during the process of animating him as he evolves throughout the film going from a rough drawing to a fully formed character, with each ink drop in his body looking and behaving differently. The character is thematically interesting taking a villain who seems like a joke and feels left out and alone the same way Miles does.

The artists and technicians made Spot look like a constantly changing environment. They drew him in blue and inked on top. And then the blue disappears during the printing process. It’s a very overwhelming style that with VFX controls the spots proving some hilarious and OMG moments. The technology used just to create his character is just scratching the surface of what is possible in animation.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) and Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) take on The Spot (Jason Schwartzman) in Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation’s SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE.

Throughout, “Across The Spider-Verse, people will spend years combing through every frame that’s honestly a work of art trying to find all the hidden references, and it only gets more insane and hilarious when we get to the Spider-Society and wait till you see what’s in store for us. Some of the Easter Eggs are incredibly obvious, while others are going to be difficult for even the most knowledgeable Marvel fans to track down. Those shots of the Spider-Society are proof of the love that went into “Across the Spider-Verse”. As for our various Spider-People, the standouts are Hobart “Hobie” Brown, aka Spider-Punk, Pavitr Prabhakar, aka Spider-Man India alongside a menagerie of Spider-Cat, Spider-Rex, Spider-Monkey and Spider-Horse. Oscar Isaac and Issa Rae are awesome as Miguel O’Hara, aka Spider-Man 2099, and Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman, respectively. 

Composer Daniel Pemberton brings his bombastic rhythmic approach to the film’s music not only giving Miles the introduction he deserved in “Into The Spider-Verse” but his themes have defined the Spider-Verse series as something unique from any score of a superhero movie. Pemberton approached each new world with a different palette. For Gwen’s world he plays off the watercolour textures creating a dreamy sound influenced by 90s, 2000s indy pop. Whereas 2099’s world is incredibly technological and his theme uses elements of that. Mile’s Earth is still heavily influenced by hip-hop culture using record scratching to blend his sound which was used for the first film and he’s continuing that motif throughout the sequel. For Spider-Man India’s world Pemberton was influenced by a guy called Charanjit Singh who made a record called “Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat” It’s a really futuristic Indian record that almost preceded acid house. Pemberton has the ability to take the fun of a bouncy electronic baseline and throw Indian stuff on top of it. ultimately this score is such an adrenaline rush and I can’t wait to hear what he creates for “Beyond The Spider-Verse next March.

Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation’s SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE.

Final Thoughts

Overall “Across the Spider-Verse “ is a deeply personal story. The conflict which drives Miles is both a universe-ending threat and 100% Spider-Man, making it clear the hero’s roots have by no means been forgotten or overshadowed. After the cliffhanger, only time will tell whether the story wraps up in a way that leaves us with a series of movies that go down as the best superhero trilogy ever made, which it’s certainly pointing in that direction. The film is also a contender for the best Spider-Man film yet and easily the greatest animated movie ever made. Pushing the boundaries of what animation can achieve as Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a jaw-dropping spectacle, a feast for the eyes, and an instant Marvel classic!

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem | Official Trailer

The Turtle brothers as they work to earn the love of New York City while facing down an army of mutants.





Animation, Action, Adventure

Release Date:

August 4, 2023


Jeff Rowe, Kyler Spears


Paul Rudd, Giancarlo Esposito, Rose Byrne

Plot Summary:

The Turtle brothers as they work to earn the love of New York City while facing down an army of mutants.

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Movies That Are Way Better Than People Realize



Many times, films will get undeserved criticism that almost makes it seem that the critics are just trolling in hopes that the film bombs. Of course, that isn’t unusual and people should not be surprised when it happens. However, when that happens, films suffer from it at the time of their release.

Those films may not have gotten such a warm reception because of the time they came out, the audience that they were trying to cater to or any number of factors. Here is a list of films that are way better than people realize.

The Lion King (2019)

The Lion King 2019 [credit: Disney]

This 2019 Disney remake was released to a divided critical reception but, nevertheless, made over $1 billion at the box office. Critics described the film as soulless and lacking emotions in the characters with the advanced CGI, which was said to dip down to the uncanny valley.

I saw this film on Disney+ and I have to say that this was incredibly amazing. I was astounded by the visual effects and how they made each character look like something out of a nature documentary. My friends from college even thought that the animals were real. Jon Favreau’s direction is something to be praised. 

Dumbo (2019)

Dumbo 2019 [credit: Disney]

I talked about this before and why the critics also got this Disney remake wrong. It stars Colin Farrell as wounded war veteran Holt Farrier who happens upon a big-eared baby elephant with the ability to fly.

Many critics praised Tim Burton’s direction but claimed that it lacked emotional depth which is the craziest thing that I ever heard of because this movie was the definition of raw emotion that was so poignant in its execution that it rivals that of the 1941 animated version. This was definitely another case of butt-hurt critics that were upset that a classic Disney IP was being remade as a cash-grab.

I don’t care if it was a cash-grab. I still loved this movie and thought it was as good as the 1941 film it’s based upon.

The Call of the Wild

Call of the Wild 2020 [credit: 20th Century Studios]

Audiences were greeted with this CG dog-filled 2020 film about a large Saint Bernard named Buck, who is stolen and sold for money and becomes a sled dog with Harrison Ford supporting him when he can in a lovable man’s best friend film.

The film was criticized for its CGI claiming that, like The Lion King, the animals dipped down into the uncanny valley. Again, this is just borderline nitpicking. The CGI never feels like it’s overcrowding the canvas of the film and, instead, it enhances the narrative with an incredible look at the technology standard and buoyed by an emotional narrative.


Balto [credit: Universal Pictures / Amblin Entertainment

Here’s another dog story that 90s kids are a little more familiar with. This animated dog story tells the tale of an outcast wolf-dog hybrid named Balto who attempts to bring back medicine across the freezing cold of Alaska to the ailing citizens.

Critics described the film as having bland characterization, which is something incredibly strange to note after watching the film. It has all of the tropes of a classic Disney animated film without having the title of Disney. Its score by James Horner is inescapably magnetic with an incredible voice cast from Kevin Bacon and Bridget Fonda.

A Troll In Central Park

A Troll in Central Park [credit: Warner Bros.]

Again, if you grew up or were born in the 90s, you probably also remember this movie and watching it on VHS. This is the story of a troll named Stanley who is banished to Central Park for being too nice. He encounters two children as they help him take down the evil Troll Queen Gnorga.

The film was maligned for being childish and immature. However, I remember watching the film and smiling from ear-to-ear with pure joy flooding my countenance and being filled with the splendor of happiness. Long story short, this film is colorful and worth a look. 

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