Tag Archives: Karan Soni


Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

by Hope Madden

Do you remember how cool Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was? It was the coolest! A film that celebrated everything a comic book film could be, everything a hero could be, and everything a cartoon could be.

Expect all that again as Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) returns, this time sharing screentime and character arc almost 50/50 with Spider-Woman Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), who starts us off with her own troubled tale of balancing great responsibility with great power. Things get so bad she has to abandon this universe, and her one real friend.

That friend has his own troubles. Mr. and Mrs. Morales (do not call them by their first names) know Miles is keeping something from them, a problem that’s only exacerbated by some goofy villain-of-the-week (Jason Schwartzman, priceless).

Or is Miles taking The Spot less seriously than he should?

He is! No matter, he gets to help Gwen and bunches of other (often hilarious) Spider-Men (and -Women and -Cats and -Dinosaurs). But it all goes to hell in a riotous celebration of animated style and spot-on writing that simultaneously tease and embrace comic book lore.

Schwartzman is not the only killer new talent crawling the web. Daniel Kaluuya lends his voice to the outstanding punk rock Spider-Man, Hobie; Issa Rae is the badass on wheels Jessica Drew; Karan Soni voices the huggable Pavitr, or Spider-Man India. Rachel Dratch plays essentially an animated version of herself as Miles’s high school principal, and the great Oscar Isaac delivers all the serious lines as Spider-Man Miguel O’Hara. Add in the returning Brian Tyree-Henry, Luna Lauren Velez and Mahershala Ali, and that is a star-studded lineup. Studs aplenty!

That wattage is almost outshone by the animation. Every conceivable style, melding one scene to the next, bringing conflict, love and heroism to startling, vivid, utterly gorgeous life.

Writers Phil Lords and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, The Mitchells vs. the Machines) return, bringing Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings writer Dave Callaham along for the sequel. Their story is wild but never illogical, delivering a heady balance of quantum physics, Jungian psychology and pop culture homages while rarely feeling like a self-congratulatory explosion of capitalism. Heart strings are tugged, and it helps if you’ve seen the previous installment. (If you haven’t, that’s on you, man. Rectify that situation immediately.)

If there is a drawback (and judging the reaction of some of the youngsters in my screening, there may be), it’s that Across the Spider-Verse is a cliffhanger. If you’re cool with an amazing second act in a three-story arc (The Empire Strikes Back, The Two Towers), you’ll probably be OK with it. Maybe warn your kids, but don’t let it dissuade you from taking in this animated glory on the biggest screen you can find.

In Sickness and in Health

7 Days

by Matt Weiner

We likely have years of pandemic-related movies ahead of us. And while 2022 may seem a bit soon to look back on the early days of Covid-19 (much as this country seems ready to declare mission accomplished no matter what), here’s some good news: You’ll be hard-pressed to watch anything more winsome and heartening than Roshan Sethi’s 7 Days.

A pre-arranged first date in March 2020 between Ravi (Karan Soni, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Sethi) and Rita (Geraldine Viswanathan) goes for much longer than either one was expecting when Covid grinds the country to a halt. Unable to get back out of town right away, Ravi hunkers down with Rita.

As the world outside Rita’s house falls apart, the two opposites—traditional, marriage-minded Ravi and freewheeling, drinking and partying Rita—slowly get to know each other on a deeper level than their disastrous first meet-up.

Sethi’s romantic comedy might be the first to use shelter in place as a meet cute, but the film earns its medical bona fides. This is Sethi’s feature debut, perhaps because he is also a practicing oncologist who wrote on medical dramas while finishing Harvard Medical School.

The film is set not only in quarantine but almost entirely within the confines of Rita’s house—save the occasional video call for Ravi, who keeps to his arranged dating schedule even with Rita sitting just feet away. So it falls entirely on Viswanathan and Soni to make these people we genuinely want to be trapped with, even as their perfectly opposite foibles drive each other mad.

And sure, their relationship follows the usual romcom course. (No spoilers, but you will get an answer to the question of whether opposites attract.) But both leads bring an impressive level of charm and depth to their roles, with a chemistry that feels natural and earned even within the formula.

Ravi and Rita have more in common than they first think—not just their traditional families urging them to settle down, but also the struggle of forging their own identities and paths in life.

Of course, the shadow of Covid looms over all of their conversations, especially the early days when so much was unknown and a cough could be the harbinger of weeks on a ventilator—or worse. The way the film works these concerns into the third act is inevitable but no less affecting.

Nothing about the phrase “Covid romcom” should play out as well as everything does with 7 Days. For that alone, the movie is a surprising gem. But to also get an incisive look at love and dating, thoughtful cultural commentary and genuine laughs is a pandemic miracle.