Review: Venom

Marvel Studios, especially their cinematic properties, have dominated the box office in 2018. In fact, several of their films that have been released this year might be taken seriously as Oscar contenders, and they are certainly in discussion for accolades for now, but for all of the good fortune their films have received it was only a matter of time before something came along to really trip them up and that time has come with Venom.


Image by Sony Pictures Entertainment, Columbia Pictures and Marvel Entertainment

In this film Tom Hardy is Eddie Brock, a disgraced investigative reporter who is down on his luck after crossing the brilliant and ruthless Carlton Drake in an interview. After losing everything important to him, Brock is contacted by an associate of Drake’s at his company to blow the whistle on Drake and his scientific discovery of a lifetime: alien lifeforms called “symbiotes”.

Brock comes into contact with one of the symbiotes and the result is the beginning of the most toxic love story ever told in the Marvel Universe. Eddie and the symbiote, Venom, must learn to coexist and stop Drake from carrying out his twisted ambitions, else the human race will sprint towards a potential extinction.

Suffice to say, after being exposed to Venom, I found myself immune to its-whatever it has that passes for “charm”. Director Ruben Fleischer and the screenwriting team of Jeff Pinker, Scott Rosenberg and Kelly Marcel were given an opportunity to flesh out a popular character derived from the realm of one of Marvel’s most amazing characters, give him a life of his own and by all accounts it most certainly tries to do that but this is probably the weakest and cheapest Marvel (affiliated) movie to come out in years.

The writing for this picture is completely stale and awkward with some hints of creativity here and there but it is a chore to follow. Fleischer attempted to truly honor the savagery and complexity of the title character but the material he is working with so substandard and I felt as though in going through such lengths to distance this character from Spider-Man, it felt as though the character was weakened and the experience watching this film was rendered common.

I will admit that I was excited to see what an actor of Tom Hardy’s caliber and dexterity could bring to the role of Eddie Brock and his alien-parasite alter-ego, but not even he could save this toxic picture. The rest of the cast does not fare any better if you ask me.

Michelle Williams is wasted in this film, Riz Ahmed is okay in this picture but okay is practically the highest grade this film allows itself to make, Jenny Slate, Peggy Lu, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Michelle Lee, Woody Harrelson, Melora Walters, this cast is relegated to practical nonexistence and because the plot and pacing of the film is so drudgingly bad!

Matthew Libatique’s cinematography is wasted in this film, Alan Baumgarten and Maryann Brandon’s editing is practical yet predictable, Ludwig Göransson’s score is okay, Oliver Scholl’s production design is mediocre, the art direction and visual effects are okay, Alice Felton’s set decoration is fine and the costumes by Kelli Jones are fine as well. In front of or behind the camera, there is hardly anything special to take away from Venom.

The best way to describe Venom is “been there, done that!” You see it, it’s good for a few surprising spurts but it does not leave a lasting mark upon you. If you miss it, you won’t miss anything.


Movies of the Week: A Star is Born & Venom!

October has finally come, fall is upon us and the time has come for all serious heavyweight features to slowly come out of the woodwork and make their mark! With the new season taking its first steps, we kick off with a highly looked forward to double feature weekend with films that are on different sides of the spectrum but their appeal is undeniable. The first film I will see this weekend is a new take on a classic Hollywood fairy tale that just may be an awards season darling come February. Believe it or not, this is the fourth time this movie has been made; the first was in 1937, the second was in 1954, the third was in 1976 and now in 2018, it’s Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s time to shine in the spotlight and make music together. This weekend, the spotlight shines on A Star is Born!

Director: Bradley Cooper

Written by: Eric Roth, Will Fetters and Bradley Cooper

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Dave Chappelle, Sam Elliot, Anthony Ramos, Andrew Dice Clay, Bonnie Sommerville, Michael Harney, Jacob Taylor, Steven Ciceron, Rebecca Field, D.J. “Shangela” Pierce, William Belli, Rafi Gavron and Marlon Williams.

What am I expecting to see?: When I heard this movie got the green light for production-albeit with a different director and a different lead actor and actress-I kept an ear out for updates but when I saw the trailer, I immediately thought “yes”! This will be Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, as well as his name credited as a screenwriter, and there is no way I was going to pass that up, because Cooper has made his mark as one of the best actors in the industry already and A Star Is Born will further etch his name as an elite. I’m also looking forward to an excellent performance by Lady Gaga as well.

The second feature on this weekend’s lineup stars another excellent actor in Tom Hardy. This feature is also a movie based on a comic book property but it’s an interesting take on a property as it’s a movie that features a comic book antagonist who is re-labeled as an anti-hero. Hardy will star as one of the most recognizable characters in Spider-Man’s rogues gallery but with an origin story adapted to exclude Spider-Man. This is the tale of Eddie Brock, the start of Marvel Comics’ most toxic love story, this is they are Venom!

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Written by: Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinker, Kelly Marcell and Will Beall

Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Woody Harrelson, Ron Cephas Jones, Jenny Slate, Marcella Bragio, Michelle Lee, Mark Brandt, Melora Walters, Jared Bankens, Reid Scott and Sope Aluko

What am I expecting to see?: I would like to know how Marvel Studios and Sony plan to pull this movie off without Spider-Man and if they can pull it off successfully. They have an excellent actor and a respectable cast to give Venom some clout but I’m antsy about its outcome. The last time the character Venom was on the big screen, it did not go well but Ruben Fleischer appears ready to give this character some justice and he is using this opportunity to showcase some creative originality. If Venom can do enough to make me believe this is a worthy use of its time, I think the future can be bright for Eddie Brock and his symbiote.

Suicide Squad Sequel in the hands of Gavin O’Connor

Last year, DC Comics and Warner Bros. did not have a good year. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad made their way into theaters and though both films enjoyed significant financial success, both film were thoroughly skewered by critics, myself included. To be honest, I thought Suicide Squad was better than Batman v. Superman, but that’s like saying 0>-2; Suicide Squad was more enjoyable but it was mess through and through but Warner Bros. wants to give the team of villains commissioned to do black-ops for the government another shot with a sequel and I think that the sequel is in good hands with Gavin O’Connor.

The movie is a top priority at Warner Bros. and looks to be one of the two DC properties (the other being New Line’s “Shazam!”) to begin production next year. Given the ensemble’s busy schedule, the shoot wasn’t expected to start until fall of 2018. So while there’s still time, the studio is eager to get someone on board to pen a script.


Image by Matt Baron/Rex/Shutterstock

I remember O’Connor’s name very well. In 2011, O’Connor co-wrote and directed the drama Warrior starring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte, who gave an Oscar-nominated supporting performance, and the film was very well-done. Over the past few years, O’Connor has directed hit-or-miss films such as The Accountant, starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick and J.K. Simmons, and Jane Got a Gun, starring Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor and Joel Edgerton. Hearing that O’Connor’s name associated with this production certainly fills me with confidence based on how I enjoyed Warrior.

Suicide Squad 2 is set to bring back Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto and Joel Kinnaman and aiming for release in 2019.


Image by Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment

Review: Dunkirk

The man who gave audiences Memento, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, The Prestige and Interstellar returns to take audiences back in time to a small, but not insignificant chapter in the history of World War II.

Nazi Germany has enveloped 400,000 French and British soldiers to the beaches of Dunkirk and the possibility of escape is practically perilous in every direction. Pinned to just one location, the enemy takes their time picking off their forces and destroying whatever hope of escape in their wake. Land, sea and air, the Allied Forces are in a bind, and the British government at the order of Prime Minister Churchill has little alternative but to requisition and commandeer civilian water craft to travel across the channel and bring their boys home.

Christopher Nolan’s take on these accounts is segmented into three perspectives on this account of history. The Mole follows a young French and British soldier navigating the beaches trying to find someway back home; The Sea features a father and son and a friend in their sea vessel crossing the channel upon hearing the order to rescue as many men as they can; The Air follows two fighter pilots soaring through the skies above the madness, shooting down German fighter planes bent on sinking anything that floats. These three perspectives all tie together to illustrate the power of the human instinct of survival. These three perspectives are the crux of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.


Image by Warner Bros. and Syncopy

Nolan told this story in three parts; I will describe this movie in three words: elegant, explosive and unyielding.

Going into this movie, I was concerned that Nolan’s take on this war story would be too clean and that might hinder its appeal as a war movie when compared to a classic war dramas such as Saving Private Ryan, The Hurt Locker or last year’s Oscar winning Hacksaw Ridge because those movies truly captured the essences of war; the gore, the graphic imagery, the bloodshed, the need to illustrate that war is hell upon seeing it unfold all around the characters for the audiences to witness themselves. Dunkirk was my boom or bust movie of the year and after seeing it, in IMAX which is the way it was intended to be seen, this movie went BOOM! A loud, resonating BOOM upon the senses that did not let up in the slightest!

My concerns going into this movie? Decimated as I watched it unfold before my eyes! Just because Nolan didn’t go excessive on bloodshed, doesn’t mean he hindered this movie; you don’t need blood or grandiose practical effects to illustrate the horrors of war! Every time a bullet fired, I jumped. Every time I saw a bomb go off or a missile or a torpedo down a ship, I was jolted. Every time a dogfight happened in the sky, I held my breath! Every time the situation became more and more dire in these three arcs, the tension just kept building and building and the suspense was as remorseless like the wind and rain in a hurricane! Nolan just brought his strengths as a filmmaker and storyteller to depict a “back against the wall” situation where individuals had to use whatever resources they could to see tomorrow and the need for bodily harm or horror was not necessary in the slightest to accomplish that.

What’s more impressive about Dunkirk is that the enemy’s presence is felt rather than seen. From the first frame, audiences see the little fliers floating from the sky onto the soldiers saying “We surround you!” you don’t see the enemy, but the presence of danger is felt every second and the tension of this film feeds off that tension for strength.

Nolan intended for Dunkirk to be seen as a story of survival and he wrote and executed this core aspect of the picture with extraordinary distinction! The focus of Dunkirk was never about winning, it was about bringing these soldiers home from extreme danger and knowing that in surviving, they were victorious! I had my doubts whether or not he could pull this off but with this powerful script, impeccable execution, the stunning cinematography of Hoyte van Hoytema, the awesome music of Hans Zimmer giving this picture atmosphere where dialogue is scarce, the sound effects, Lee Smith’s editing which came together beautifully as the film went on, Nathan Crowley’s production design, Dunkirk is an outstanding achievement in filmmaking and should become the crown jewel in Christopher Nolan’s body of work so far.

This movie isn’t so much about the actors but what the actors do in the film, in these roles. The collection of Fionn Whitehead, Damien Bonnard, Aneurin Barnard, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance, Tom Glynn-Carney, Tom Hardy, Jack Lowden, Kenneth Branagh, James D’Arcy, Cillian Murphy and Harry Styles all do a solid job with the parts they have been given, but the true star of the show is the suspense and the tension that fills up the screen when all of the technical aspects behind the camera come together.

Dunkirk is elegant is how it is shown and heard on screen but the subject matter is brimming with explosive technical execution, resulting in an unyielding cinematic experience that should not be missed! It is the most phenomenal experience I have had this year at the movies!

Movie of the Week: Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan has been one of my favorite filmmakers for years. Whether it is Memento, his prolific Dark Knight trilogy, the ingenious Inception or the spectacular Interstellar, his movies always incite discussion, excitement and fervor among fans, critics and students of cinema. This week, Nolan’s newest project Dunkirk arrives in theaters, attempting to live up to the legacy and adhere to the expectations Nolan has set for himself. In the throws of WWII, 400,000 soldiers are trapped on a beach in Great Britain and the enemy is closing in ready to finish them off. With no way out, there is only one path toward victory: surviving the ordeal before them.

Director and Writer: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Barry Keoghan, Fionn Whitehead, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, Damien Bonnard, Jack Lowden and James D’Arcy

What am I expecting to see?: It is true that I have been looking forward to Dunkirk, because I am a fan of Nolan’s films, but I believe this is the biggest boom or bust movie of the year because of a multitude of reasons. For starters, as far as war pictures go, this looks clean compared to a film such as Hacksaw Ridge, also I’m unfamiliar with the story of this battle or campaign and it’s significance in World War II. Nolan also claims that this is a survival story but the fact that it is set in war time with war iconography is something I cannot wrest away. I’m looking to be educated and surprised by Dunkirk; it has much to prove.


Tom Hardy is a web-slinging anti-hero!

A few weeks ago, Sony Pictures announced that the Marvel character and Spider-Man antagonist Venom would be featured in a standalone spinoff set to arrive in theaters sometime next year. The fan-favorite character has already made his big-screen debut in the disappointing blockbuster Spider-Man 3, portrayed by Topher Grace, but this project is seen as an opportunity for Sony to get the character right and potentially usher in a new anti-hero universe based on Spider-Man’s rogues gallery.

News has broken that names have now been confirmed to sign on for the spinoff. Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer will direct and Oscar nominee Tom Hardy is set to star in film.

Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner, the latter of whom worked on 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, wrote the script for Venom. Plot details are being kept in the black but Hardy, who is said to be a Venom fan, will play Eddie Brock, the character who first became Venom.

Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach are producing along with Amy Pascal.

The internet is calling this casting a coup and I can’t help but agree. Hardy is an excellent actor who is a year removed from his first Oscar nomination in The Revenant and has starred in action and drama movies a plenty including Inception, Warrior, has a superhero movie under his belt already portraying the sinister Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, rode through the wasteland in Mad Max: Fury Road and will star in the upcoming Dunkirk; I can’t help but be impressed by Hardy’s body of work thus far and I look forward to seeing him give life to this tragic and deadly character. Venom is set to snare an audience on October 5, 2018.

It’s Official! Daniel Craig is done as 007!

Image by The Sun

I took an interest in the James Bond film franchise in high school. I believe I have seen every Bond film from the Sean Connery era, Pierce Brosnan era, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and I believe I have seen the George Lazenby Bond flick only once. Anyway, I found out that Daniel Craig would be the next in line to get the license to kill in high school and I have respected his performance as James Bond from Casino Royale, to Quantum of Solace, to Skyfall to Spectre, even though half of the Bond films of his time weren’t exactly up to snuff. After Skyfall, I started to hear whispers that Craig was considering relinquishing his role as Bond even though he was being looked at for one or two additional films. I was hoping he would return but alas he has chosen to walk away from the role of James Bond.

Insiders said Craig turned down a £68million ($99 million) offer from MGM studio to return as Bond for two more films following last year’s hit Spectre. The sum included endorsements, profit shares, and a role for him working as a co-producer.

So that’s that! The Bond films of his time were hit and miss but he did a fine job as Bond in my opinion and I wish him well in his endeavors after making this decision. Now MGM studios have to begin work on who is to replace him as the next James Bond. Here are actors who have been speculated to become the seventh actor to portray James Bond:

Tom Hiddleston

Image By Sachyn Mital, via Wikimedia Commons

Idris Elba

Image by AP

Henry Cavill

Image by Eva Rinaldi, via Wikimedia Commons

Michael Fassbender

Image By Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons

Colin Farrell

Image by Kristen

Tom Hardy

Image by Josito Montez

Damian Lewis

Image by Eyes Wide Ciak!

It’s should be interesting to see how this plays out. Until it does, the world will have to wait and see who takes up the mantle of Agent 007.