John and Kelly React! Ansel Elgort in West Side Story, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and that Aquaman trailer!

In this latest edition of John and Kelly React! we discuss the casting of Ansel Elgort as Tony in Spielberg’s West Side Story remake, the new Spider-Verse trailer, and the extended Aquaman trailer!

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Kelly: NEWS. Ansel Elgort is supposedly playing Tony in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story.

John: DOPE. He’s got the face for a musical.

Kelly: I think he’ll will make a great Tony. He’s got the moves. He’s got the look. I can easily see him as a Jet. The question is if he can sing. I was actually thinking Tom Holland might get cast. He was in Billy Elliot on West End for a while.

John: Plus you know that boy can dance.

Kelly: I know Spielberg is searching for an unknown for Maria.

John: Good for Spielberg.

Kelly: I think theyll have the hardest time casting Anita. It’s arguably the most demanding role and most memorable. It will be hard to not compare it to Rita Moreno.

John: Yeah, that’s a tough one. Then again remaking West Side Story in itself is gonna be a tough job. Like is Spielberg gonna try to make it grounded like the Les Mis movie? Or try to homage the musicals of the era?

Kelly: But not impossible. It’s really just a matter of finding the right people. I think it’ll be a politically correct homage. He’s not going to shy away from using old musical techniques. That’s probably why he wants to do it in the first place.

John: His track record is pretty good when it comes to remakes. War of the Worlds is actually a pretty great movie. No musicals, it’s missing in his oeuvre.

Kelly: Honestly, after Ready Player One, I was back in the Spielberg boat. Not that I was ever off of it but it reminded me of why his work is so good. That attention to detail will work really well in a modern yet classical musical. And not to mention its fluidity. One of the most remarkable things about West Side Story is its smoothness in the dance sequences and how relevant its technique still is.

John: True, I think he might just be the perfect guy for the job. He’s still got an old school sensibility but isn’t afraid to play with modern techniques.

Kelly: I can’t think of another big name director who would be able to do the kind of dance sequence that comes with West Side Story while maintaining its integrity. The editing is going to have to be on point.

John: I can’t recall a Spielberg flick with bad editing. His frequent editor Michael Khan has a solid resume. Definitely checks out.

Kelly: The closest I can recommend is that it has to look as good as a Jackie Chan movie. Like whoever did The Foreigner could probably do a good job. Things have to roll from one shot to the next seamlessly in good musicals. Except Moulin Rouge! I give that one a pass.

John: Another question is how will the musical arrangement turn out? Best course of action is change nothing or at least changes to a minimum. Obviously if certain lyrics don’t fly in 2018, I get changing them. I get people liked The Greatest Showman but let’s not rearrange West Side Story to pop. Also, are we going to get a shoehorned “original song”?

Kelly: I know Lin Manuel did some rewrites in Spanish for the revival in 2009… and it didn’t go over so well. In translations, the cadence and the syllables don’t always have a one to one translation… but I do think there is vocabulary that can be changed. Speaking of updating the songs, they could make do with taking out the “Ole!” in America. Multiple Oles. That’s one of the things wrong about West Side Story. They take anything shelved under Latino and Hispanic and call it Puerto Rican. There’s a lot of dancing that’s not traditional to that region. It would be cool for them to revise a lot of that.

John: I totally get it.

Kelly: But I’d be hesitant if they were changing the entirety of the song. Now as far as the pop versions… it will happen.

John: Like if you want to do it as a bonus track, sure.

Kelly: We can expect heavier percussion and bass. I could do with a few updates a la Beauty and the Beast but I’ll be damned if they go full Annie with this thing.

John: Just keep your fingers crossed for actors who can actually sing.

Kelly: I’ll admit, I am apprehensive for Elgort due to this. Tony has some really lovely songs that go from low to high and back to low like it’s not a big deal.

John: I think… I may have seen him sing… But I might be remembering the Kingsman kid.

Kelly: They are all the same person to me. Them and the Ready Player One kid.

John: Wow ok. I mean, at least we know he’s got an interest in music.

Kelly: I hear a lot of auto-tune but that could be the style of the song. There is potential. I am somewhat alleviated. That and his opening in Baby Driver, I can get behind this.

John: I’m not sure if he can hit them high notes.

Kelly: He’s no Leslie Odom Jr, but I think that will work for Tony. I will say, he looks more the part that OG Tony Richard Beymer. He’s got more of a roughness to him that’s still marketable to the teens. More angular features.

John: He’s still got that Tiger Beat face.

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Kelly: Ok so Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. How do you feel?

John: I’m very excited/annoyed. I’m excited because it looks gorgeous and funny, annoyed Miles has to share the spotlight.

Kelly: Oh, it’s not just Miles? I thought it was a Miles-centric movie?

John: So did I, or just a Peter and Miles movie where Pete takes the role of mentor. The cast is pretty fun though.

Kelly: Who are we looking at?

John: Mahershala Ali is playing one of my fave Spidey villains so I kind of want to take this as a win. Nic Cage is Spider-man Noir (edgy 30’s Spidey), Kimiko Glenn is an anime playing Mecha Pilot Spider-girl, Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy/Spider-Gwen… And John Mulaney as the amazing Spider-Ham.

Kelly: I feel like that’s too many Spideys.

John: Dude, the comic version had like 30 spider-people.

Kelly: Maybe that’s their way of getting a bunch of non-Peter Parkers out there? Kind of like all the Ironman suits.

John: Basically. Again. A tad annoyed Miles has to share the spotlight but the movie looks leagues more interesting/better than Homecoming. Peter Parker is played by one of the dudes from The New Girl, Jake Johnson.

Kelly: Oh, Jake Johnson is pretty good. He was good in Tag at least. Ha. But I imagine his voicework is good. I’m surprised they have a lot of actors in it and not so much people known for voice acting. Like, where is Troy Baker?

John: I’m mostly sold on art direction and animation; the movie looks wholly unique. It looks like a damn good time. Also cool to see Nic Cage doing voice work. He voiced Superman in the teen titans go flick too, but that was just a great in joke about the canceled Burton Superman movie.

Kelly: It’s weird to see him working again to be honest. He’s a movie star, but he hasn’t quite made the “Old Guy” transition like Josh Brolin has. He might be trying to do what Keanu Reeves has been doing, but we only have room for one of those.

John: He also had another flick out recently, lots of hype around it. Mandy, that’s the movie. It got a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Kelly: Is it bad I have no interest in seeing Nic Cage movies? Aside from Con Air, when it’s on.

John: DUDE. Mandy might not be your jam, but I just watched the trailer and I need to watch it like right now. It looks artsy and violent as fuck. Like if John Wick and The Crow had a colorful movie baby.

Kelly: I’ll pass, but I’m on the Spider-Verse train. I will say that the image of Miles falling into NYC looks reminiscent of Bioshock. I dig it. It’s a different style of animation that we are used to seeing, which would be that classic 90’s Disney and even the computer animation a la Frozen and Zootopia.

John: The thing I like most about the animation is that each of the Spiders are animated differently and even lighting style is distinct. On top of that, the art direction itself is nothing I’ve seen in a mainstream animated film. It’s stylish, vibrant, and it’s got that perfect blend of cartoon and comic style that appeals to me most.

Kelly: When you say blend of cartoon and comic style, are you talking about the outline of the characters? I did notice that they are rougher than what we might typically see in mainstream animation. On top of that, I really like the palette and the softer aspects. It feels very classical, almost like a painting. Not what I associate with something that is related to a comic book.

John: Yeah. That and the designs themselves.


John: Moving on- that five minute Aquaman trailer.

Kelly: I don’t typically like super long trailers. They usually give away too much. Let’s talk about the new poster real quick. Ten times better than the original. Wholly original and not so copy pastey. And I really like the colors, especially the gold.

John: It’s striking, the other one had no contrast. Not gonna lie, the trident feels very Mjolnir and Thor’s Hammer to me. I haven’t read any Aquaman so I don’t know if it’s similar to that. Comics rip each other off all the time so I wouldn’t be surprised. This movie already felt a bit Thor like and the trident kinda seals it for me.

Kelly: It’s not Aquaman’s fault that they have similar backgrounds though. Signature weapon, demigods, lives among humans… that’s about it.

John: Nah, just something I can’t help but notice. It’s not killing the vibe, I’m still down for the movie. Surprisingly. I think the super long trailer was really try hard. That long shot with the rooftops was bad ass, but now any impact I would have gotten seeing it in the theater is ruined. Also, lots of bro humor. It works when it’s delivered by Momoa but just generally not my thing. What’d you think?

Kelly: Minus some of the poorer CG, I’m actually digging the way it looks. I like that it’s bright and colorful and more reminiscent of the first part of Wonder Woman than the overall murkiness of Justice League. It makes me not mind Amber Heard’s hair so much. As for the trailer itself, it’s an OK trailer. I don’t think it’s strong thematically and even though it is five minutes, I got a better sense of the story from the shorter trailer. It seems very, “Get some of the jokes, get some of the action,” and that’s it… but I am digging it as a whole. I had low expectations to begin with so I am pleasantly surprised.

John: Right. I don’t think this should have been five minutes. As said before the extended chase sequence is really cool, but you could have saved that for the flick.

Kelly: My biggest takeaway is that rooftop scene. I literally paused it, facepalmed, cried a little, and said, “THIS is what Assassin’s Creed should have looked like.” JAMES WAN FOR ASSASSIN’S CREED!

John: Yes. I can totally see that. The action in the film looks insane in the most positive way.

Kelly: That part looks badass. The CG is not the best, but it looks wicked fun.

John: I can see we are going to get plenty of variety and different locales, I never would have guessed they would aim for a globe-trotting adventure for Aquaman but it looks exciting. I also dig the crap out of the costumes, I think James Wan said at Comic Con, that they looked at the comics designs, and just ran away with them.

Kelly: Right. I was hesitant before, but after seeing the full visuals and colors of the movie, the costumes make sense. What did you think about the underwater sequences?

John: If I’m being honest, not nearly as excited I was looking at the rooftop chase and the fight with Black Manta. Kelly, that’s the dude shooting lasers out of helmet since you don’t read the comics.

Kelly: Thanks.

John: It looks good, much better than it looked in Justice League.

Kelly: The physics that water allows are going to be tough to work with. It’s obviously going to be slower and duller. I was half hoping they would go the other route: make above ground the sadder, muddier colors and the underwater world more vibrant, but I’m not unhappy about it.

John: I haven’t seen anything in the underwater scenes that jump out to me as anything to get excited about. The production design itself is gorgeous, but it feels like I’ve seen it before. Luminescent blues and greens, it’s been done. This isn’t the movies fault but it feels like Avatar. It IS kind of telling the trailer highlights the above land scenes more so than under the sea.

Kelly: The underwater lava scene looked like fun!

John: True true, regardless the movie looks great. I want to especially shout out to that camera work. I’m a sucker for long takes. That camera move with Nicole Kidman was just the best

Kelly: SAME. Would you say you were more excited watching the Aquaman trailer… or the Venom trailer?

John: Oh god no. Like, that line at the end, something like: they don’t need a king. They need a hero. That is fantastic and amazing. Venom‘s closing line: like a turd… in the wind. I think that sums it up.

Kelly: I do like that we’re getting a wave of superheroes who enjoy using their powers, but not to the extent where they abuse them. Man, I am on a wave of RDJ hate. I was about to use Tony Stark as an example.

John: It is refreshing, I’m hoping we can close the chapter on the brooding superhero for a while.

Kelly: It works with the right character and the right setting. The way I see it with Aquaman is that they knew it was a ridiculous premise that wouldn’t work with… so might as well have fun with it. The tone immediately makes sense.

John: True, nothing wrong with embracing the silliness of the material.

Kelly: What did you think of Amber Heard?

John: I think she’s fine, nothing that sticks out to me really. I have no knowledge of her character from the comics but I think she’ll be cool. It looks like she’s getting a good share of the action and that’s always a plus.

Kelly: I don’t know if she is actually adding anything more than a sidekick/love interest. Aside from the rooftop scene, I’d say she adds little to nothing. Actually, That was actually one of the more confusing parts to me. How it went from “parents are getting a divorce” to globetrotting with Amber Heard. I’m sure the movie will get into it but like… could have opened with a campfire scene or something of Momoa talking about his parents, then jumping into “Anyway, we gonna do this or what?” and then boom- temple.

John: Yeah the trailer was full of odd choices. My theory is that DC hasn’t bee in the news cycle (positively) and they need to make hype. I would say… I am sufficiently hyped.

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