Venom Movie Review

3/10

Forgettable and confusing. Venom is a classic case of a film that most know is going to be bad but will still end up seeing it for an actor that they like. Hopefully, this review will make you reconsider.

Tom Hardy plays investigative journalist Eddie Brock. During one of his expose pieces, Brock becomes infected with the alien entity known as Venom. This alien uses Brock’s body as a host to survive and allows him to experience superhuman-like abilities. Brock soon realises that Venom is far from being a superhero and must learn to control his new powers to protect those that he loves.

Fundamentally the film just feels like classic Sony. They’ve hedged all their bets on this film being a success by hiring a stellar cast whose ability is way too good for a film like this; with a huge budget that you can just see being chewed up in big explosions and extensive sets. It’s begging to be liked. But the desperation feeling that pours off this film drag it down, making it a remnant of the blockbuster film Sony wanted it to be.

Tom Hardy is good as Eddie Brock but great as Venom. He fills Venom with a sarcastic ignorance-come-arrogance that provides a small amount of relief throughout the film. This performance gives Eddie Brock a lot more edge than the straight-laced version Topher Grace portrayed in Spider-Man 3 (but sadly there’s no ridiculous Tobey Maguire dancing). Despite all this, Tom Hardy just isn’t given the material someone of his caliber needs, and ultimately this is where the film falls short.

Strangely, Michelle Williams is cast as Brock’s lawyer girlfriend Anne and Jenny Slate as Dr. Dora Skirth who works for the corporation that discovered Venom. Michelle Williams gives Anne a red hot go, but again the script is lacking any real substance to show off her immense talent.

Ultimately, I thought her, and Jenny Slate needed to swap roles. It was a weird casting choice having Jenny Slate, a comedian, playing as serious a role as Dr. Dora. In my opinion, Slate should have played the character Anne. This is because there were more moments of humour that came from Anne which would have been better suited for the comedian. Michelle Williams wasn’t great in delivering these gags and most of them came off feeling awkward. This confirmed to me that their swapping of roles would have been a better idea and it would have given Michelle Williams a lot more to work with. I would have been more interested to see her play Dr. Dora and how she could dramatise the conflicted feelings in the scientist who can no longer justify the means to the end.

In terms of the story, it really felt underdeveloped. There isn’t any motive for Eddie Brock and that means there’s nothing he’s working towards in terms of growth or development. When he fucks up doing an expose which leads to him getting fired, his sense of justice and search for the truth gets completely thrown out of the window, and he never gets it back. The ease with which he ditches these morals makes you question how important they were to him in the first place.

The most disappointing part of the film was the underused Venom character. Venom is supposed to be the ultimate anti-hero, treading the line between good and bad, and often crossing over to the bad side. This part of Venom was never fully realized. At no point was there an internal battle between Venom and Eddie Brock that dealt with any complexities of what’s right and wrong. Venom merely plays a lame sidekick to Eddie Brock’s constant incredulous view at the situation he finds himself.

I fear part of the issue with Venom was also the seriously safe M rating that was slapped over the film. Sony baby proofs an anti-hero who eats bad people and often kills them gruesomely by not showing these aspects because they know it will give the film an MA rating. It’s playing it safe to make the film more accessible to a larger audience (i.e. children) to boost up sales. Compare to this another iconic anti-hero film, Deadpool wasn’t afraid to capitalise on MA rated aspects like strong violence and crude humour because the film knew it made them different and entertaining. The Punisher is another similar example of this.

Overall Venom is sloppy and unimaginative. It fails to realize and capitalise what the ultimate anti-hero Venom should have been. In this day and age where superhero films are a dime a dozen, Venom had the material to compete with interesting and different anti-heroes. But I fear the need to keep it within the safe realm of an M rating was a huge detriment to the film’s potential. Skip it.

Deadpool 2 Movie Review

deadpool 2

See it. 5/10

“You can’t really live until you’ve died a little”

I felt very underwhelmed by this film. Coming in off a high from the original, Deadpool 2 unfortunately misses the mark in terms of comedy, which is mostly the reason why I enjoyed the original so much. The sequel also continues the trend of being poorly made on a technical front (one of the main gripes I had with the original) and has surprisingly worsened with some horrendous direction. Having said those issues, there’s still enough (if barely) in terms of the story to lift it up as not a complete failure, and there are some interesting new characters that I thought were notable additions to the series, but I’ll get to that later.

The most disappointing aspect of Deadpool 2 was how unfunny I thought almost everything in the story was. There were only a few moments where I genuinely smiled or chuckled but for the most part, everything was just fairly safe and boring. It was strange seeing a downfall such as this because none of the wit or meta-like charm from the original seem to translate onwards in the second. It kind of boggles me because literally the only difference to those who wrote this film compared to the original is the addition of Ryan Reynolds. But surely the inclusion of its charismatic lead who I praised so much in the review of the first film couldn’t be the factor? Well, I can’t say indefinitely but there was something up with whoever was responsible for writing most of the humor.

None of the jokes hit any of their intended punchlines for me. There were even obvious moments of build up to the end of a certain gag that in turn was met with silence and the sound of crickets in the cinema. It was so weird but at the end of the day, that reflects the quality of writing and perhaps the writers are really just one trick pony’s.

This issue of falling flat also was reflected in the poor marksmanship of the direction. Almost 90% of shots were the same old crap of close-ups on people and objects in every goddamn scene. It was getting ridiculous with the lack of variety and inattention for care. Like here we go, a character walks into a room and talks with people, then cut to several shot reverse shots of everyone’s reactions and when anyone is talking, cut it together in chronological order and that’s it, the job’s done.

Even if it was just a monologue of Deadpool lying down, the camera for some reason wants to come as close as possible to his face and hold it for so long that I don’t get why this is meant to feel cinematic as it’s just stupidly close for no reason. Show me a different angle or some new shot styles that visually reflect how the characters are feeling a certain way. For example, if they’re meant to exuberate a sense of loneliness and hopelessness, why not cleverly represent that by using a wide longshot where the camera has been placed to make the character look alone amongst the backdrop?

Instead what was occurring was this train of thought of “ok this line of dialogue is important and close-up shots are used whenever it’s something important in the film., and because people relate to seeing people’s faces when they can be seen from the front, I’ve got to use a close-up to show them because that’s what I learned in film school, so it must be true. And remember, the only way to show all this is by having a close-up of them talking every time or even laying down thinking or even just sleeping or whatever they are going to do”. *groans*

When it came to action sequences, I felt that the efforts to cheat the punches and blows that weren’t landing was incredibly skewed as those scenes quickly became a jumbled edited mess. It became difficult to decipher every hit that was apparently landing simply with the sheer number of cuts they decided to put together in a ridiculously fast fashion. I’m left wondering, why did no one think to film them with slow-motion cameras, as that was a wonderful aspect that worked so well in the first Deadpool? It doesn’t make sense to me and it’s just reaffirming why I’m not the biggest fan of the director David Leitch who also did John Wick and Atomic Blonde. Yes, I have a soft spot for John Wick simply because of the fun and intentionally nonsensical aspects of the story but technically, it’s not that great.

However, as I did mention in the introduction, it’s not all bad for Deadpool 2. I did enjoy the introduction of the character/sidekick Domino whose superpower is that she’s just very lucky. It’s a feature that Deadpool and others laughed at in the film because it does seem ridiculous, but nevertheless, it turned out to surprisingly handy and I’m now sort of a believer. It was an interesting twist on what was possible on the superpower front and I was a fan of how it all played out in the movie.

I also enjoyed how the story was different to what I expected heading into it. I can’t delve into this greatly without spoiling it but I will say the villain here was not was I was thinking. There are still some issues with this, particularly with who was cast to play that role who didn’t really fit the character (wait till you see the movie as I can’t give this away), but at least it was different, and it was a trope that I didn’t see it coming. But as the saying goes, that’s all folks.

Deadpool 2 wasn’t the fulfillment that I wanted it to be and this isn’t because it was hyped up for me before I went in to see it. Essentially all I wanted was new jokes that had the same styled humor from the first and that would make me enjoy watching it compared to other superhero movies. I was even happy for it to have yet another silly plot (though I did hope for more based on my qualms with the first) so long as the jokes were funny, and I could laugh. But I didn’t get that, and I’m left very underwhelmed.

Ryan Reynolds is still great for the role and Deadpool 2 is still trying to subvert the tropes of what other superhero movies are trying to do, but it ultimately falls flat for me and I’m disappointed with how it turned out to be. I’ll still be recommending you see it for yourself if only to also support more R rated films like it. Take those words with a grain of a salt though as it’s a fairly soft recommendation based mainly on how I am a fan of what the character and series is all about. Watch it if you want to but come in with much lower expectations and you might have a better time than I did. See it.

Deadpool Movie Review

deadpool

See it. 6.5/10

“Maximum effort” 

If only other superhero movies could be this R rated and not be afraid to take themselves that seriously. Because one of the major attractions that drew me to Deadpool was the angle of being an almost anti superhero cliché. Having rewatched it recently, as preparation for the sequel that’s being released in the next few days, I’m glad this charm still holds up.

In my opinion, this is the perfect role for its charismatic lead Ryan Reynolds, who I wasn’t that much a fan of prior to seeing him in this. The Deadpool character and hopefully series, has reinvigorated not only his career but also his persona as an actor, almost akin to the change I saw in Matthew McConaughey from True Detective and Dallas Buyers Club onwards.

The comedic timing and enthusiasm he brings to screen is a wonderful addition to his performance talent and has been held back by being cast in basic romantic comedy roles. I genuinely enjoyed the burst of life he added to this character, which seems almost like a perfect match for him, even though the first time he played Deadpool was completely different and was in that god-awful film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Ryan Reynolds did his time in prison, followed the advice of his agents and Hollywood executives, and is now on top to reap the rewards that he sowed.

This is all largely thanks to the script, as indicated by the introduction credits which also mocked everyone that worked on the film, except the writers who were labeled as “the true heroes here”. And it’s clear this is the case.

I’m glad that the writers didn’t try to sugarcoat anything (though I’ve heard a few jokes were cut out) and the film overall wasn’t afraid to be brash or in your face. This isn’t to say it was simply relying on jokes that were just crude for the sake of being crude, but rather the film had a story where it was free to explore the roams of R rated humor that normally isn’t done in other superhero films like it. For me, it worked, because, for the most part, the jokes were actually witty and funny.

One of my favorite aspects about the Deadpool series is the fact that the character knows he’s in a comic book movie and is willing to subvert the typical tropes used in so many other films like it. It’s meta to the point where it doesn’t cross the line of being too full on and doesn’t rely on the hope that because it’s meta, this must make it a really cool film and I should automatically think it’s great because of it. Instead, the meta aspects are subtle enough to where Deadpool still focuses on the main story, whilst also willing to poke fun at itself when needed. The film does this not only in ways where Deadpool will break fourth walls to the audience but also in small calculated self-aware digs between dialogues with characters. Yes, there were times I thought that it was blatantly obvious that this was simply a forced joke for the sake of being meta to be funny. Overall, I still thought the balance for this style of humor was fairly well placed.

These are the only aspects that I really enjoyed about the film as the rest isn’t necessarily anything special.

From a technical standpoint, I enjoyed it most when shots were used in slow motion for the action sequences. The edits were made to be overly quick (more than likely to cheat the punches and kicks that don’t land), so it was nice to take it all in when it was slowed down which also had some humor to it. Aside from that, I didn’t really find any of the other shot choices to stand out, as everything was simple close-ups or reverse shots of characters speaking, which is a style that is very stale and safe. But thankfully on the audio end, the music selection made up for it with songs specifically chosen to reflect Deadpool as a pop-culture enthusiast antihero.

The story’s villain was basically a cookie cutter antagonist, which at least the film pointed fun at and was self-aware of, but it also meant that the last half an hour battle sequence didn’t really hold up in terms of tension. I don’t see how fighting a character who is essentially invincible, adds any depth or excitement when it’s very clear who’s going to win just based on logic. You could throw that aside as the story of this film serves more of a purpose to present you the character of Deadpool itself and the originality behind him, with everything else, is just filler.

Deadpool isn’t a hero as he will explicitly mention to you, and those notions have tried to reflect what the rest of the film wants to do: not be a traditional superhero movie, and laugh at those that do. In most ways, I’d say it does this, even if I know Deadpool is more of an antihero which still means he is some sort of a hero at the end of the day. What I came for and wanted to see was an R rated comedy that revolved around a superhero figure that would make me smile. And it did. Deadpool has enough charm for me to enjoy watching the absurdity but knowing that it, in turn, the film knows that it’s all absurd, which are features that I greatly admire.

I’m eager to see the sequel, as I’ve been enjoying all the marketing that’s been leading up to it (along with reminiscing about the promotions for the original) and I’d suggest giving this one a watch before you watch the second. See it.