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I’ll be the first to admit that much of the current cinematic landscape leaves a lot to be desired. Formulaic blockbusters laden with CGI, too-similar stories being told again and again. And I assume it’s challenging for an actor who is serious about their craft to treat them, well … seriously.

That said, there’s nothing worse than watching a famous actor go through the motions in one of these films, clearly there for a check and trying their damnedest to appear above it all. You can’t always pick up the full “I’m too good for this” vibe, but when it’s there, it’s a downer.

But there’s a flip side. The flip side is when actors who are wildly talented and incredibly devoted to their work gleefully embrace the madness and go for it. That’s when you can see real joy, these performers who understand that what they do is about play and that every character, no matter how seemingly strange or nonsensical, can shine so long as that character is treated with respect.

Tom Hardy is an incredibly talented actor. He is also, by every indication, a strange dude. But one thing you can say for certain – no matter what the situation, Hardy is ready to give everything he has. And in his new movie “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” he has clearly been told to go big.

And he. Goes. Big.

The film – a sequel to 2018’s “Venom” – is directed by Andy Serkis from a screenplay by Kelly Marcel (it’s worth noting that Hardy has a story credit). It’s a glorious mess of a movie, a slapdash mélange of buddy comedy and superhero CGI and weird body horror that absolutely should not work … and yet it does. Well, kind of. It’s an uneven experience, one where the story sometimes gets lost in the noise. But hey – the noise is a hell of a lot of fun.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 10 October 2018 12:08

‘Venom’ an uninspired antihero

As the superhero industrial complex continues to grow in Hollywood, we can expect to start seeing more material featuring secondary and tertiary comic book characters. The studios have churned through the A-list characters and many of the B-listers – it’s inevitable that they’re going to keep reaching.

Now, one could certainly argue that noted Spider-Man foe Venom isn’t a deep cut – he has been one of Spidey’s primary antagonists ever since he first made the scene 30 years ago. He has had connections to other heroes and villains and a fair number of stand-alone outings over the years, but he remains indelibly connected to Spider-Man.

And yet, it the new film “Venom,” there’s not a Spider-Man to be seen. And while that absence isn’t the only reason the movie fails to pass muster, it’s a significant one. The movie is a tonal mish-mash, one that seems happy to outright refuse to decide what kind of film it wants to be. Add to that the fact that the character has long been defined by a sort of reactionary emptiness and you get a movie that offers flashes of quality, but largely collapses beneath its own indecisiveness.

Published in Movies

Sometimes the narrative surrounding a film threatens to supersede the film itself. The content and relative quality of the movie in question becomes secondary to a story about the movie’s process.

So it is with “All the Money in the World,” a dramatization of the real-life story of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, grandson to financial titan J. Paul Getty. But as rife with drama as that tale might be, it paled in comparison to the controversy that surrounded the film and the choices made to address that controversy.

Actor Kevin Spacey played the elder Getty in the movie as it was originally filmed, but following a slew of allegations of sexual assault and other misconduct, the decision was made to remove him from the film and replace him with Christopher Plummer. And despite an incredibly truncated timeline, director Ridley Scott managed to do just that while still sticking to the film’s announced release date.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 27 December 2017 13:47

‘The Greatest Showman’ not that great

Musical has its moments, but mostly falls short

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 21 December 2016 11:27

The magnificent ‘Manchester by the Sea’

There are plenty of ways in which a movie can be great. It can feature a great aesthetic or offer great performances or tell a great story. It can be funny or sad or emotionally charged or simply beautiful. It can transport you while you’re watching and leave you thinking while it follows you home. Any one of these qualities can make for a great movie, but it’s a rare film that can do most or all of these things.

Published in Movies
Disney offering offers decent family fun

There are few places in cinematic history as iconic as the Land of Oz. 1939's 'The Wizard of Oz' is more than a family classic; it's a pop cultural touchstone as significant as any in film. Plenty of subsequent artists have returned there in the years since, with varying degrees of success. Big-screen trips to Oz have basically been flops.

'Oz the Great and Powerful' is Disney's latest attempt (their last was 1985's 'Return to Oz') to travel down the yellow brick road. 

Published in Movies

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