What Makes ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ so Loved

We all love Into the Spider-Verse, yeah? This TVWriter™ minion even knows a rival major studio head who thinks it’s the best film of the year so far.  The following video looks into what makes Spider-Verse work so, you know, we all can do it and make everybody who ever turned us down as envious as my studio head friend.

More excellent film analyses at HoustonProductions1

Herbie J Pilato sees ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

Ladies and gentlemen, TVWriter™ is proud to present a classic TV critic in top form. Here’s how it’s done:

“Mary” Pops in “Returns”
by Herbie J Pilato

A remarkable plethora of talent is resplendent throughout, behind the camera and on screen for Mary Poppins Returns, the new Disney sequel to the studio’s 1964 motion picture classic.

The ghost of Walt Disney and Julie Andrew’s original interpretation of the mystical nanny is prevalent in all the right places and frames of this thoroughly modern magical mystical tour de force. Sharing the screenwriting credit with David Macgee and John DeLuca, Marshall is clearly a fan of the original Poppins, as he makes certain Returns adheres to the visual and storied mythology of the revered first take (helmed by Robert Stevenson).

Right smack in the middle of it all, new Poppins lead Emily Blunt had big knickers to fill in stepping into Andrews’ puss and boots, but the award-winning actress adds a fresh face to the character; Blunt (a name that works for the character!) brings her own special brand of demure to what could easily have turned into a theatrical mess in the hands of a less fêted performer.

Andrews rejected the idea of making even a cameo into the mix of this dear Poppins fresh dough, ray of sunshine and glee, because, allegedly, she did not want to steal the spotlight from Blunt. But it’s also been said that her agent demanded more “moola” for her to apply any new rouge for Returns.

Fortunately, other veteran performers like always-perfect Angela Lansbury (as the Balloon Lady, the character allegedly written for Andrews), Dick Van Dyke (who starred in the original Mary, and makes a remarkable screen return of his own at 93!), Colin Firth, David Warner, and Meryl Streep (to a lesser extent), each deliver the goods.

And while Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer as the adult Banks siblings are nothing less than Shakespearean supreme, Returns’ fresh batch of child actors, Joel Dawson, Nathanael Saleh, Pixie Davies, light up the screen with vibrancy and an enormous bag of Bojangles skill that boggles for their age. And while, too, shades of the superior quality of stupendous original Poppinssongs by the Sherman brothers Richard and Robert can be heard in Returns, the still-very-much-alive musical maestro Richard Sherman served as a consultant on the new film’s catchy tunes and score composed by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman (who wrote the lyrics with Shaiman)….

Read it all at Medium

Diana Vacc sees “A Star is Born”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Speaking of A Star is Born, here is TVWriter™ Critic-At-Large Diana Vaccarelli with a bit of a  different view from that we published last week. Take it away, Diana!


by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—

October 7, 2018, Warner Bros. in association with Live Nation Productions and MGM released the fourth remake of A Star is Born.  This film follows the story of famous musician Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) and struggling artist Ally (Lady Gaga) as they fall in love, while dealing with Jackson’s alcoholism and inner demons.

THE GOOD:

  • The directorial debut of Bradley Cooper soared with perfection when it comes to the writing, acting, and the music.  You can feel his passion for this project watching the film.
  • Not only did Bradley Cooper direct and co-write the script, he also starred as the tortured Jackson Maine.  He excels in this role and reminds people that musicians and actors are human beings too and have their struggles in life.
  • I have never seen Lady Gaga act in a role before and let me tell you I was floored.  The role of Ally couldn’t have been portrayed by any other person.
  • The chemistry between Cooper and Gaga reminds me of the chemistry that Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio had in Titanic.  Watching Cooper and Gaga as Maine and Ally you feel the love these two have for one another.

THE BAD:

  • Few films that are released today that touch the soul.  This film is one of them.  It has been a long time since I have genuinely cried watching a film.  All in all nothing negative to say at all.

THE REST:

With the majority of films coming out these days being superhero or at least tentpole-based, it’s refreshing to see a film that deals with issues the people deal with on a real level.

In other words, go see the newest version of A Star is Born. Because, guess what? You’ll see yourself.


Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and a TVWriter™ University grad. Find out more about her HERE

Gerry Conway Reads George Miller’s ‘Justice League’ Script

by Gerry Conway

Years late, I just read the screenplay for the abandoned George Miller “Justice League: Mortal” film (available online if you Google for it).

It’s based roughly on the Brother Eye/OMAC Justice League storyline, and while it’s infinitely better than the Justice League film that saw light last year, it has the same problems that film did– attempting to introduce a massive number of characters, backstories, and motivations in roughly two hours.

What’s ironic is you can understand why the studio balked at making “Justice League: Mortal”– the story is both too ambitious and too thin, trying to do too much and not enough– and yet, when they had a chance to address those problems in “Justice League,” they ended up doubling down on everything that was wrong and removing everything that was right. (There’s much that’s right in the “Mortal” script.)

You have to wonder what the execs at Warners were doing/thinking in the years between “Mortal” and “Justice League.” One thing reading this script proves is that starting a “cinematic universe” with a group film first would have been a huge conceptual mistake.

“Man of Steel,” “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and “Justice League” didn’t fix that mistake, though. They simply spread the mistake over three films instead of one.


Gerry Conway is one of the Kings of TV and film and comic book writing and also one of our Beloved Leader Larry Brody’s longest-lasting and closest friends. Everybody who comes to TVWriter™ should be reading his insightful blog, where this article first appeared. Learn more about Gerry HERE.

Gerry Conway Sees ‘A Wrinkle in Time’

by Gerry Conway

“A Wrinkle In Time” is a disappointing movie.

I went in with high hopes and left deeply annoyed and saddened.

Tonally, it’s a mess. Every single actor seems to be performing in a different movie.

Poor Storm Reid, who seems to have considerable potential, has been misguided into giving a one-note, sullen performance, charmless and flat.

But she isn’t alone– every actor’s performance works against the film. Perfect illustration? Zach Galifianakis as “The Happy Medium.” As his name implies, the character of “Happy Medium” is clearly meant to represent the happiness that comes with a balanced temperament – but Galifianakas plays “The Happy Medium” with restrained snark: mildly impatient, vaguely misanthropic, a fussy introvert whose exterior dismissiveness supposedly conceals a warm heart.

His costume is somber browns; his “cave of balance” looks like a threatening maze of treacherous balance beams out of a dark “American Gladiator.” How does this represent “The Happy Medium?” It’s completely wrong-headed, massively tone-deaf to the underlying material.

There’s only one person to blame for this misfire: the director, Ava DuVernay.

Early word on the film indicated there were tonal issues, and at the time I discounted them – I think it’s quite possible to tread a line between serious and sweet, realistic and fantastic, but it requires a deft touch and a deep sympathy with the ultimate story you’re trying to tell.

In order to tell a serious story set in a fantasy world, you need to love fantasy first, love it so much its common tropes are second nature to your storytelling. Ava DuVernay displays no such sympathy or love for fantasy. Her heart is clearly on the side of “serious” and “realistic” storytelling.

I’m not sure why Disney imagined the woman who directed the brilliant “Selma” and episodes of “Scandal” would be the perfect choice to direct a film that should have embraced the light (but still serious) tone of a “Mary Poppins,” but it was a bad move.

I was rooting for DuVernay because I’m someone who believes we need more diversity among the people empowered to tell stories in film. I still think so. But that doesn’t mean every person is equipped temperamentally to tell every kind of story.

From the evidence of “A Wrinkle In Time,” no matter how fine a director she may be of other kinds of films, DuVernay is a terrible director of fantasy.


Gerry Conway is one of the Kings of TV and film and comic book writing and also one of our Beloved Leader Larry Brody’s longest-lasting and closest friends. Everybody who comes to TVWriter™ should be reading his insightful blog, where this article first appeared. Learn more about Gerry HERE.