Screen Critic: More Spider-Man, another Disney remake, and J.Lo in full-on action mode 

Jun 02, 2023
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Sony); Halle Bailey in The Little Mermaid (Disney); Jennifer Lopez in The Mother (Netflix). Source: Supplied

If, like most people, you believe we haven’t had quite enough Spider-Man movies then rejoice at the arrival of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the third animated film in the franchise that lands as the tenth Spider-Man since 2002 – and that’s not counting all his appearances in Marvel’s Avenger epics.

And there are Spider-People all over the shop in this dizzying adventure as New York teenager Miles Morales bounces into alternate universes in pursuit of The Spot, a villain who threatens to destroy, well, everything. 

The kaleidoscopic style of the animation is dazzling, though the frenetic pace allows no time for your eyes to rest across the film’s over-generous 140 minutes, which ends up being a tad wearying. Thankfully, there’s plenty of comedy and some good story twists to keep Spidey fans happy.

Already playing to crowded multiplexes across the globe, The Little Mermaid is the latest in a long line of super-expensive live-action remakes of classic Disney animated features.

The film looks wonderful as young lovestruck mermaid Ariel (Halle Bailey) pines to live among the humans, but as with most Disney do-overs, the film can’t recapture the magic, vibrancy or fun of the original.

That said, the 135-minute film – the original was a scant 88 – works well enough as family entertainment, complete with grand musical sequences that seem designed to allow people to nip out for a loo visit without missing anything. Just stay put for the Under the Sea number, which is marvellous.

A small-town businessman valiantly battles the evil banking system to set up a not-for-profit community bank in Bank of Dave, a nicely packaged feel-good British film based on the true story of Dave Fishwick (played here by Rory Kinnear).

Framed as an old-fashioned David-and-Goliath showdown, the story is seen chiefly through the experience of young London lawyer Hugh (Joel Fry). His mission is to navigate Dave’s dream through the legal obstacles and dirty tactics of the finance titans who want the venture crushed.         

The thorny topic of infidelity borne of the boredom that can set into marriage gets a good going over in Maybe I Do, a thoughtful, light-hearted look at cheating and the challenges of long-term commitment.

Leading an impressive septuagenarian ensemble, Gere shines with a wonderful performance alongside veterans Diane Keaton (also a producer), Susan Sarandon and William H Macy. 

It’s a finely tuned, affable comedy-drama, written and directed by Michael Jacobs, based on his hit play Cheaters. Emma Roberts and Australian actor Luke Bracey give good support as a young couple trying to work out if marriage is the right move for them.

Provided you can tolerate the cartoonish sight of digitally rendered blood spurting from the severed limbs of dismembered victims you’re likely to enjoy the shenanigans in the horror-comedy Renfield.

Set in present-day New Orleans, Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies; The Menu) plays the titular assistant to Count Dracula (Nicholas Cage), who needs to be supplied with fresh corpses to regain his withering complexion. Fun stuff. 

Still on the horror front but at the other end of the quality spectrum is The Boogeyman, a dreadfully dull, cliched yarn based on a Stephen King short story that is so rote it’s likely to induce even the most jittery horror addict into a deep slumber. Terrible.

Jennifer Lopez is at her bad-ass best in The Mother, an exceptionally strong, emotionally-driven action-thriller.

Proficiently directed with a cracking pace by Niki Caro (Whale Rider; Mulan), J.Lo convincingly plays a professional killer (who is never named) as she protects her teenage daughter Zoe (Lucy Paez) from an army of bad guys determined to kill her.

The kicker to the story is that Zoe had to be put into a foster family at birth for her protection, so the circumstances of the mother-and-daughter reunion are somewhat stressful, to say the least.

Full of tense action sequences and with a terrific performance from J.Lo, The Mother is way above the standard action mulch we often see on streaming. Check it out on Netflix.


For more visit with updates on Twitter at @jimschembri   

Keen to share your thoughts with other 60-pluses? You can sign up as a contributor and submit your stories to Starts at 60. While you’re at it, why not join the Starts at 60 Bloggers Club to talk to other writers in the Starts at 60 community and learn more about how to write for Starts at 60.

Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up