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Venom 2 Gets a New Release Date and a Title

Carnage

Sony Pictures has announced that Venom 2 will come to theaters on June 25, 2021. That’s the date originally held by The Batman which moved to October 1, 2021. The sequel to Venom was originally to be released on October 2, 2020.

We also get the news that the sequel has an official title, Venom: Let There Be Carnage.

Andy Serkis is directing the Venom sequel, which sees Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, and Woody Harrelson reprising their roles of Eddie Brock, Anne Weying, and Cletus Kasady. Naomie Harris will be playing Shriek.

“Let There Be Carnage” is a reference to the character Carnage, another symbiote who bonds with Cletus Kasady, played by Harrelson. The character is an unrepentant serial killer with no morality. Kasady was created by David Michelinie and artist Erik Larsen, the character first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #344.

Harrelson briefly appeared in 2018’s Venom in a mid-credits scene teasing the character’s debut in a sequel.

Venom earned $213.5 million domestically, $642.6 million internationally, and a little over $856 million worldwide.

Andy Serkis to Direct Venom 2

The Hollywood Reporter has an exclusive that Andy Serkis will be directing Venom 2. Serkis seemingly confirmed the news on Twitter. Tom Hardy will return in the title roles of the Marvel Comics characters Eddie Brock and Venom.

Venom earned $213.5 million domestically, $642.6 million internationally for a worldwide total of just shy of $856.1 million. It was the 13th highest-grossing film of 2018 domestically and 7th highest-grossing worldwide.

This will be Serkis’ third directorial gig after 2017’s Breath and 2018’s Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, which ended up on Netflix after being made at Warner Bros.

Serkis rose to fame through his motion-capture work such as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He also was part of the second unit directing with the Hobbit trilogy. Serkis was Klaw in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, so he’s already been part of the Marvel family. Though Venom is with Sony, Spider-Man’s last two films have been joint ventures between Sony and Marvel.

Kelly Marcel wrote the script for Venom 2. It’s expected that Woody Harrelson will also be part of the film after he was teased at the end of Venom as Cletus Kasady, aka Carnage, a villain of the character as well as Spider-Man.

Movie Review: Venom

Going into Venom, I was expecting an utter disaster based on the early reviews of the film. Maybe it was due to lower expectations but by the end the film wasn’t the dumpster fire as expected. That also doesn’t mean it’s good either.

Based on the Marvel character created by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane (with Randy Schueller, Roger Stern, Tom DeFalco, Mike Zeck, and Ron Frenz all credited as creating the alien symbiote) the anti-hero gets the spotlight after debuting in the rightfully maligned Spider-Man 3. Two reboots later, SONY is still trying to figure out what it’s doing with its Spider-Man universe of characters and this is the first film in that world to headline someone not Spider-Man.

While the concept of going in that direction is good, and could work, Venom is quite a few steps back from the excellent Spider-Man: Homecoming. In fact it’s a few decades back in quality. The film stars Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock who’s a journalist fired after taking a story too far. Hardy provides his usual attempt at playing American, and his performance is similar to that of his role in Warrior (actually a great film). He mumbles his lines in a gruff and most of his emotion is in how he moves his head side to side. Eventually he bonds with an alien creature who uses its host like a parasite, except in this case the two form a solid bond that works. This creature gives Brock extraordinary powers like rapid healing, though that’s never quite explained as to how. And, that’s part of the problem with the film. Venom has a lot going right for it but it tends to also just throw a lot out there that asks you to just go with it.

The villain of the film is an Elon Musk type character named Carlton Drake played by Riz Ahmed. Drake sees humanity as being on the brink of destruction and wants to use the alien symbiotes to head to the stars. The alien symbiotes want to invade Earth and destroy it. Why? That’s never really explained. Drake’s plan is just an example of how thin the plot of the film is. Why does he need the aliens when he can just use space suits? Why do the aliens want to invade? Is Drake’s thought process basically Thanos’ issues with existence?

The film begs you to not think too hard as it bounces from one action sequence to the next but what’s frustrating is the film shows a lot of promise just no coherent vision or indication the creators behind it understood what worked and what didn’t.

The relationship between Eddie and Venom is solid though Hardy at times plays it up too much for laughs. Again, that’s another indication the film didn’t know what it wanted to be. There’s an addict/abuser relationship there and when that’s explored, it’s solid. Venom is also a bogeyman showing up out of the shadows and when the movie is filmed like that, it works. The perfect example is a fight scene between Venom and the San Francisco SWAT where smoke obscures much of the action and police are pulled and thrown around by the unknown force. Shot mostly from their perspective there’s a horror element that really works.

But, the film doesn’t know what it wants to be. The PG-13 rating and focus on scatological humor indicate the studio in the end the younger set of viewers was the way to go instead of a more adult R-rated film that could have been much more mature. A back and forth about the symbiotes being up asses seems to point to that decision.

There’s also the sense the cast knew they were making a turd of a film. Michelle Williams plays Brock’s love interest and seems to be phoning it in most of the film. Jenny Slate is a scientist who you never get a sense that she’s anything but a fill in scientist and plot devise. There’s no emotion for what should be a really emotional role.

Add in so much to overlook (Drake’s facility really has bad security) and the film borderlines campy in how bad it is at times. The special fx doesn’t help matters though the final battle again shows what could have been. It’s almost like they blew their budget on a few sequences.

With a few tweaks the film could have been excellent but it comes off as one that doesn’t know what it wants to be and screams issues behind the scenes to deliver a final product. For the second film in SONY’s Spider-Man universe (With few things to connect the two. Really, you couldn’t say Daily Bugle!?) it’s so many steps back you almost expect a reboot of everything… again.

This is one to watch on tv so you don’t waste your dollars but it’s one to see once. Just once. There’s potential there and hopefully we get a sequel with a vision as to what to do because it’s pretty clear this is just a turd fluttering in the wind.

Overall Rating: 6

A Venom Update from Brazil Comic-Con

At Brazil Comic-Con director Ruben Fleischer and Tom Hardy gave an update about Venom. The film is a new take on the classic Marvel Spider-Man character Eddie Brock aka Venom.

In addition a first official look at Hardy as Eddie Brock has been released and you can see below.

The movie’s in theaters October 5.

Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) in Columbia Pictures’ VEMON.

Movie Review: Dunkirk

Dunkirk-IMAX-posterThe battle and evacuation at Dunkirk set the tone and narrative for much of the Allied response to the Nazi advances. Christopher Nolan‘s new ensemble war drama distills that heroism into a set of interweaving narratives, telling a powerful story with all of the technical prowess he is known for. While not the masterpiece some are claiming it is, Dunkirk is a great war film– and emphasis on film.

For those who missed that day in history class, (spoiler alert?) Dunkirk was the time the French and English armies found themselves surrounded and trying to evacuate from the Northern coast of France. Only 50 or so miles across the English Channel, almost half a million soldiers waited to be rescued– and British citizens took to their small boats to help bring everyone back.

Nolan tells us three main stories, focusing on a single person on the beach, a fighter pilot (Tom Hardy), and a British man help with the rescue (Mark Rylance). With typical Nolan panache, he mixes up the timelines and weaves them together thematically rather than by time, so Hardy’s heroic sky antics (in reality stretching across several hours) seems to stretch for the days that the soldiers waited on the beaches.

Beautifully filmed in wide-screen format, if you are going to see this in theaters, it deserves to be seen in a theater with the biggest, best screen and best sound system possible. While this highlights Nolan’s skills as a filmmaker, this timeline is also something that was incredibly distracting. When a scene changes from night to day to night again and then to day, it’s jarring, and not in a good way. This seems almost like Nolan trying to show us how clever he is rather than just focusing on telling a story. While this sort of temporal tomfoolery works in a story like Memento or Inception, it just seems out of place in a grounded war movie like this about actual events that transpired. I’d like to see a cut of the film with the story simply told in linear fashion– it would be better sans Nolan trying to show us how clever he is.

Speaking of jarring, (but this time in a good way)there’s also Nolan’s sound design. Every bullet, every bomb hits with an intensity that you feel. As they cross the channel on his boat, Rylance’s Mr. Dawson teaches his son and his friend George to tell the differences in engine sounds between the Luftwaffe and RAF fighters, and soon we as the audience can listen for the differences as well– and feel the dread that comes with the sound of an incoming German plane diving towards stranded soldiers on a pier or on the beach. A line of bombs explode on the sand in spectacular fashion, the final one hitting mere meters from one of our protagonists. It’s raw, it’s visceral, and shows just how good Nolan can be in delivering cinematic greatness– when he’s not busy trying to show off.

Nolan also chooses an intentionally bleak color palatte, helping to reinforce the dire situation. In fact, the only brief bright colors we get are some brief sunsets at the end of the film, as if to imply that their darkest hours were over. He also manages to use all of the real estate available to him on screen. Again, see this on the largest screen possible with the best sound system possible.

On top of its technical achievements, you also have some excellent performances. Mark Rylance delivers a perfect self-effacing Englishman charm, complete with stiff upper lip. On his way to Dunkirk, he picks up a stranded, shell-shocked sailor played by Cillian Murphy, whose performance is also one of the highlights of the film. But the best part here is Hardy– a major complaint with this is that his story is so strong and the stories of the people on the beach are far less compelling. It almost would have been better to just do a Tom Hardy RAF movie. (Although, there is always the possibility for a sequel. . . )

Nolan makes some interesting choices here, not the least of which is to ever mention “Germans,” “Nazis,” “Fritz,” “Jerry,” or any other name. They were simply “the enemy.” This is an interesting choice, as it begs the question why it’s necessary? When you have literally the most universally hated and recognizable modern manifestation of pure evil, why shy away from it? If there was a point, it was lost in the film, but it has the air of apologism.

In isolation, this wouldn’t be so disconcerting. But then you recognize that there is not a single woman or non-white male given any sort of speaking role in this film. It’s a historical fact, yes, that most of the soldiers on the beach at Dunkirk would have been white men. But when Michael Bay manages to make Pearl Harbor,  one of the most universally reviled war films of all time, more diverse and inclusive than your film. . .  well, that’s strike two. For an example of other types of stories that could be told about the heroism at Dunkirk, you can check out Their Finest from earlier this year.

Luckily Nolan never gets to strike three, but given his comments earlier this week about Netflix, and responses from directors like Ava DuVernay and Bong Joon-ho (who have released films through Netflix that otherwise wouldn’t get distribution) it’s clear Nolan is perhaps the least “woke” major director working today.

That is all incredibly sad, as the film on its own is quite good. But, with great filmmaking power comes great filmmaking responsibility. Doing another white man’s heroism war film seems really superfluous in 2017.

But if you do go see this (repeated for the third time because, yes, it’s the most important thing to know) go see it on the biggest screen with the best sound system you have access to.

4 out of 5 stars

Movie Review: The Revenant

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Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass

For The Revenant, director Alejandro G. Inarritu has once again coupled with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, delivering a film so spectacular and awe-inspiring it ultimately forgets it is, above all, a film and ends up being not as satisfying as there is a severe lack for one thing — storytelling.

Taking place in 1823, The Revenant is based on Michael Punke‘s book inspired by the real events in the life of Hugh Glass. He’s part of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company and on one trek, he is left for dead as his meet with a grizzly has left him with mortal wounds caused by the bear’s mauling (the scene is gut-wrenching and brutal).

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A glimpse into the bear mauling and the superb acting by DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio‘s portrayal of Glass is phenomenal. Not having seen all of the Oscar contenders, I can’t really say if he has the highest chances of winning, but it is one of his best performances to date. Moreover, he makes you relate to his character, creating a protagonist you genuinely care about and can root for.

On the other hand, Tom Hardy‘s Fitzgerald is the complete opposite of Grant in what he represents. If Hugh is strong, courageous and big-hearted, Fitzgerald is a weak coward and with no heart. Now, it might be poor character development but you never get to really understand why he does and acts the way he does. You do have some implications but nothing explicit. Some of his actions are logical, however, that’s a rare occurrence and most of his decisions make zero sense and have no real motivation behind them that we know of. Still, Hardy makes do with what he’s given even if he still mumbles a bit.

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Tom Hardy as Fitzgerald

One character specifically is mostly paper-thin. He is side-tracked from the action, only appearing when it’s convenient and are so stereotypical you can guess what each of them is going to say. We have the young, ignorant Jim who, by the end of the lengthy film, turns out to be useless to the story as he is underdeveloped and not utilised. He’s used as a filler; if you take him out of The Revenant, you won’t have removed anything integral from the plot.

For me, the main character of the film is the cinematography. Shot by Lubezki, it is a truly memorable film with scenes so delightful you can freeze almost each frame and get a gorgeous photograph on your wall. The long takes, the use of only natural light, the setting and framing — they are all topnotch. Nevertheless, one thing I could make do without are the low-angle shots. They are a bit odd and not as impactful as the pans and dutch angles.

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Alejandro G. Inarritu is the director of The Revenant but also of Birdman.

Another important thing to note is the sound mixing — it’s exceptional. The way this film’s sound is mixed is just a thing my ears admire. Even in the opening credits, with the water running in the stream, you notice how much thought has been put into place with the sound. I am not particularly sure if anything else has grabbed my attention this year when it comes to sound editing.

The Revenant has it’s great qualities. But when it comes to the actual story, there is not enough of it to fill the runtime of two hours and thirty-six minutes. It feels overly long with many filler, although pretty, scenes as it protracts the main focus of the film, the revenge, for so long that when you get to the final, actual face-off, it is anticlimactic and you are left chapfallen and perplexed by the end product. Had Inarritu omitted those scenes, and thus made the film more condensed, the third act would be more stirring and riveting.

With astonishing cinematography and exceptional acting by the two main characters, Alejandro G. Inarritu’s The Revenant is like a puzzle that you can almost put together. But, even with that, the film would be missing the most important piece in the process — a good script that would give the movie a meaning. All the components for a great film are there, but the viewer is forced to look for them and add things themselves in order to make it a great film.

This post was originally posted on The Arts Lover.

Mad Max: Fury Road’s Follow-Up Has a Name

mad max fury road 2It was reported before the film hit theaters that Tom Hardy was signed on for three Mad Max films, and sequels would be coming if the first film did well. Well, it looks like Mad Max: Fury Road‘s $44.44 million debut was good enough because the next title in the film franchise has been announced.

Director and writer George Miller said “there’s more Max to come” and during the podcast The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith, the filmmaker also divulged the title of the next film, which is already written.

Mad Max: The Wasteland will be the title of the next film. I’m being coy with calling it a sequel, because some sites are reporting the next two films will actually be prequels to Fury Road. No matter if they’re sequels or prequels, if they’re close to the quality of Fury Road, we’re in.

Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

MM-Main-PosterIn a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.

36 years since the first Mad Max film, and 30 years since the last George Miller returns to pen the script for (with some help) and direct the apocalyptic world he created with a new actor to fill the role of Max Rockatansky, actor Tom Hardy. Mad Max: Fury Road is a throwback film to many ways, but with a modern sensibility about it. Joining Miller and Hardy is a fascinating cast but most notably Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa and Nicholas Hoult as Nux. It is through Hardy, Theron, and Hoult’s three characters we get the crux and much of the theme of the film.

Much has been made about the film being a feminist plot, but after watching it, the film could be called an environmentalist plot, a call for redistribution of wealth, a condemnation of blind and fanatical faith, and a look at post-industrial society. It’s a political film no doubt, but if this is what you’re focused on, you’re probably missing the visual assault and pulse pounding action. The fact is, the film doesn’t raise the women above the men in any way as characters, they hold their own in even footing, the way life and a film should be. The women play both warrior and damsel, but so does Max, and so does Nux. I don’t want to focus too deeply on the political subtext, that’s a post for another day.

The film is brilliant in many ways, Miller clearly had a vision and the film is unequaled so far this movie season. The script maybe contained 500 words between the cast, instead this is a film of action, both through the movement of the actors, but the movement of the machinery. The film at it’s most simple is a chase and disaster film with Max and Furiosa pursued by Immortan Joe and his disciples.

The visuals are the draw here, as you’re thrown directly into the action for a sequence that goes on for quite a while before a proper break. It’s an assault, in a good way, pushing visuals in front of you that left my jaw agape. The film takes us back to practical special fx, forgoing computer animation as much as possible, it’s both refreshing and exciting to see it all again on the big screen.

There’s not much to say about the acting. It’s good, not great, but there’s also not a whole lot there as far as dialogue. There’s lots of grunts and looks, but we’re not talking Shakespeare. While dialogue isn’t prevalent those three main characters of Max, Furiosa, and Nux each have interesting arcs taking them each from subjugation through liberation. It’s all fascinating and gets into the themes of the film.

By the end of the film, I felt spent, the length felt like a perfect amount of time that had me drained when the credits rolled. Miller hasn’t lost a step in his time away, and when you take the story, visuals, direction, fx, and characters it all feels revolutionary in many ways.

30 years later, and Miller has returned at what he does best, and has put Hollywood on notice of how to do a film right. It’s my favorite film of 2015 so far. What a lovely day. What a lovely film.

Overall rating: 9.5

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