Venom: Let There Be Carnage is exactly what it is

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is the exact movie it needed to be. This movie knows what was the good part of the first movie, Eddie and Venom, and then gives you more of that plus a foil in Cletus Kasady and Carnage. I really liked this movie. It was exactly what I wanted to see… almost.

I don’t really have complaints about this movie. It did a lot of things right. It was violent, a bit messy in the good way, entertaining, funny and it’s tight. There are no wasted scenes. You can’t take a bathroom break during this movie because every scene is relevant to what is going on.  

Like it’s only 90 minutes long. You can’t waste a scene in a movie that long. I love it… except it should be rated R.

I know why they didn’t, and they do a good job to cut around and keep their PG13 rating while still pushing the envelope as much as you can expect. I just really want to see the rated R cut of this movie. Hopefully it gets a special release but unfortunately it isn’t likely to be quite the pop culture hit of Deadpool. They did take full advantage of PG13 though and drop an excellent f-bomb, but no boobies.

The best part of the movie is the titular characters: Eddie and Venom, Cletus and Carnage. You get all the great couples therapy moments again but now they’ve grown more used to each other, but still aren’t totes besties. Cletus and Carnage have a simple dynamic, which shouldn’t be a surprise.

Carnage is one of my favourite comic villains for the simple reason that he is simple. Cletus loves murder. Carnage loves murder. That’s why they’re so good together. No plans of world domination. No delusions of grandeur. They’re plenty happy together just roaming into a small town and killing everyone at the diner just because they can.

It sounds awful, because it is, and a bit sick, because it is, but that’s why I love the character. Villains don’t need to be complicated if they’re effective when played straight. There’s no ambiguity around the morals of Carnage. He has none.

And because Carnage is a bit simple and more of a small-time villain despite his main event status, the movie follows suit. The plot is small and personal to the characters. There’s like six people in this movie with speaking roles. The two headliners and four other folks. There’s no unnecessary bloated arcs to give side character 3 a full arc. Who cares. Not me. The whole movie is in service of Venom and Carnage.

Tom Hardy does a great job being the nervous, twitchy regular-ish fella that has an alien amoeba slime half in control of his body. Venom, voiced by Hardy though you wouldn’t really know it, does a great job of caring for Eddie and being sick of him at the same time. But they just work, and that’s the point of them. They’re the cutest Lethal Protector and I ship them forever <3.

Woody Harrelson just seemed to have fun on this movie. His performance isn’t exactly deep or layered like an onion but he’s gets Cletus Kasady. See above for why.

The rest of the cast are all good. They do their parts well and make you care just enough. They play well off the dynamic of the movie. Michelle Williams does her thing. Peggy Lu returns and is fun. Naomie Harris looks unrecognizable as Shriek. Whoever plays Dan is great because Dan is a great guy.

Andy Serkis directed this movie and you can tell someone who cares about motion/performance capture and CGI directed this movie because it looks SO MUCH BETTER than the first film. You know what is happening at all times in this movie. I also feel like he brought a bit of his Gollum-Smeagol experience on the characters to this film which is no bad thing.

Part of what helps that is that Venom looks like Venom. Big and black. Carnage looks exactly like Carnage. A bit more slender and red! They pulled more from the Maximum Carnage design with the black mouth and black accents than the more modern Carnage’s that are almost a straight red Venom.

Ultimately, I want to watch this movie again way more than I want to watch the first one again. If you’re reading this and haven’t seen the first one, give it a shot. There is great odd couple energy from Eddie and Venom. And the movie is perfectly fine enough to watch once.

But the real prize of these Venom films is this movie. It’s kind of like a throwback to the era of Raimi Spider-Man and Fox X-Men and Fantastic Four and “ice skating uphill” Blade. It’s cheesy but not insulting you for watching.

The movie takes itself exactly as serious as it should. There’s lots of little key frames and in jokes and iconography that hardcores are going to love, but nothing a general audience member won’t understand. I’m happy. This movie was fun. And fun things aren’t bad.

Oh! And the end-mid credits scene! Please sit and stay and watch that because that is some gourmet teasing. Holy poop! Heck, it even makes the Morbius movie somewhat interesting.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

Everyone Needs To Watch Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Image result for spider man into the spider verse style

What if I told you that an animated Spider-Man movie would be so stylish, so well done, so dense and so thoughtful that it would be one of the greatest animated movies of all time? Well, you better believe me because Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse exists and it totally whips.

This movie is a masterpiece overflowing with style and care. I don’t remember the last time a movie had so much style that I kept thinking about it. On a rewatch all I wanted to do was pause and take in every single scene and setting. Most movies have scenes or sequences to that affect, but another movie that is end to end as stylish as Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse? Honestly don’t think it exists. This movie is excellent on so many levels it’s impossible to spill enough digital ink on it.

This may be my new favourite animated movie. It’s right there with The Lion King. It won a freaking Oscar. It captures all the best parts of an animated movie in a time where Big Hollywood seems to want to make everything that was animated into “Live Action” at the expense of imagination.

It’s a Spider-Man movie that doesn’t even follow Peter Parker. We’re following Miles Morales, the half African American and half Puerto Rican Spider-Man through his origin story. A super hero origin story in 2018. That isn’t rote.

Miles is an awesome character. They do a great job establishing him as his own hero.  He isn’t just the new Spider-Man. He wears sneakers, a black suit, hoody, doesn’t tie his laces. He has confidence even as a kid. He’s into graffiti and is creative.  He’s so much more than “Black Spider-Man”. He’s a real character.

And he’s still a high school kid. High school Spider-Man is so much fun. Spiderman should always start in high school. He can move on and grow, but you got to get to know Spider-Man when he’s a kid. Spider-Man learning to Spider-Man as a kid is integral to the character. He’s a young teenager going with the suffix “Man” when that is typically reserved for ambiguous 30-something’s like Iron Man, Batman, Superman, etc.

Miles’ personal style is woven into the storytelling and visuals. I don’t think this movie works with a Peter Parker at the center of it. It feels like the movie is entirely in Miles’ perspective and you see the world as he sees it.

Can’t overlook how refreshing it is for a super hero to have parents that are alive and supportive. It provides new avenues for the hero to work through the conflicts and motivations that give a unique take on being a vigilante. The story moves, twists, turns and satisfies in so many different ways with this flexibility.

We’re living in a Spider-Man exclusive New York. It is helpful to distinguish this world from the live action films (RIP now) where Spider-Man is hanging out in a New York where Doctor Strange, Iron Man, the Avengers and everyone else seems to room on the daily.

Getting the weird fringe Spider-Man’s into the movie is radical too. Peter, Gwen and Miles are pretty mainline at this point, but Noir, Ham and Peni are pretty obscure. It’s neat to see them get some time on screen instead of this being more of a Batman family style movie where you get Peter, Miles, and Gwen hanging out with like Kane Parker, Flash Thompson, etc. and whatever other dudes find themselves adjacent to mainline just Peter Parker.

The movie gets meta in a fun way. Sometimes it’s a gag that subverts your expectations. Other times it’s a small love letter to everything Spider-Man at some point: how many times Uncle Ben has needed to die, the spider bite that gets everyone, dancing emo Peter (which I defend) and a great post credit scene that memes out .

The visual style is the main attraction to this movie though. It does some weird 2 frame play, 1 frame hold, 1 frame skip type look to give it movement as if it’s a flip book or a motion comic but also keeps fluid animation. It takes a bit of time to get used to, but after a little your brain adapts and gets absorbed by it.

There is so much to look at. The base animation mixes with comic panels and hand drawn inserts for flashes. Thought boxes, onomatopoeia words coming and going, panelling in and out. Backgrounds are “drawn” but the characters look 3D. Elements of cell shading and Ben-Day dots/halftones mixing with CGI creates a sharp focus in part of the frame, while having the background look as if it’s a 3D film when you don’t have the glasses on.

Every frame is packed in detail without being distracting. The colour work is phenomenal. So much pop but also keeps the scenes distinct. There’s impressive use of long takes, which is typically unimpressive in an animated movie. There is so much “Show, Don’t Tell” storytelling going on. The directors, animators and cinematographer really outdid themselves.

The score is rad and the mix of hip hop totally fits the style and tone of the film. The music melts right into what you’re looking in every frame and raises the visuals. The voice cast whips and is only outdone by the art style of each character. Nic Cage, Mahershala Ali and Chris Pine in the same movie? And they’re all varying levels of secondary supporting characters? Damn man.

Shameik Moore never falters as Miles. Jake Johnson is perfect as Peter. Hailee Steinfeld couldn’t capture Gwen better. Brain Tyree Henry nails being a father in the soft moments and the harder ones.

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An issue you could have in a movie like this is “how do you differentiate what are basically six spider people?” Just have every single one of them radiate their entirely own style. Miles has his modern hip hop fusion from the suit and his movements. He has his own set of distinct abilities on top of the base Spider-Man ones. Peter A Parker as the ideal and Peter B as the “I’ve been at this for so long” shlub version. Gwen’s mix of punk rock while moving gracefully like a ballerina. Noir being… well very noir with the suit and classic “Put up your dukes” fighting. Ham is full on Looney Tunes and Peni gets the anime treatment complete with posing, mannerisms and a 2D style.

This carries through the villains too: from the behemoth that is Kingpin to the fluidity of Doc Ock to the precision of everything Prowler does. The freedom of imagination and creativity is on full display and while you might not pick up on everything, your brain is noticing and picking up every bit of subtlety. Every character has a distinct silhouette so despite the richness on screen you can still pick up everything going on. The action isn’t a mess.

I can go forever. The movie is so damn good. There are more layers to this film than an onion. I also have the same pair of Nike’s that Miles wears.

If you’re already seen the movie and want to just get more about how great it is then make sure you watch this video. You won’t spend 15 minutes better today.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

Venom: Sucks So Good

Venom has some serious suckage. It isn’t good, but its good enough. Put this movie on a pie chart and a good chunk is like Suicide Squad and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had a baby. But being a bad movie doesn’t mean it is terrible because it is quite a bit fun. Seriously, two thumbs up.

I was already kind of negative before this movie came out. It looked like a bit silly, and Venom without Spider-Man isn’t exactly interesting. Eddie Brock is Venom because of Spider-Man. The trailers made it look visually messy or bland.

But then I heard some good, or at least not horrendous, things from people and the box office returns were positive. So, why not see it? What else am I doing at 5 PM on a Friday when I have to be up at 7 AM the next morning? I haven’t been to a movie since either Rampage or Ant-Man and The Wasp. Whichever came first. If nothing else, I heard the post-credits scene is worth a $14 ticket.

Everything that isn’t Eddie Brock and Venom is a train wreck. But the train wreck never stops. You know how in another Tom Hardy movie, Mad Max: Fury Road, the chase builds and builds and gets one percent bigger then two percent bigger and then three percent bigger? This is if a train wreck crashing into more train wrecks found a way to not stop and still arrive at its destination in a pile of twisted metal and fire like a Looney Toons skit. When other characters are on-screen you’re sitting there like “WHERE IS VENOM AND EDDIE?”

The dynamic is where the fun is. Think of a buddy cop movie. Venom is beyond the bad cop, he’s an asshole. He’s just absurd. Eddie Brock is mumbling, bumbling doofus.

MORE POWER.

No calm down.

MORE POWER GO NUTS.

Come on relax.

MAXIMUM VENOM POWER.

Oh Jeez.

The last person you should ever listen to about their own movies is Tom Hardy. Mad Max: Fury Road is fantastic and while this movie isn’t good, his stuff in the movie is the best part of it all. Their interactions are fantastic. His complaints that all his good stuff was cut from the film seems silly, since his stuff was the only good and best part of the whole movie. If there was 40 minutes of missing footage of those two then I am totally down for an extended cut. Give it to me. The two of them have some absolute money lines together.

I’m not lying or being a sensationalist fanboy when I say that you can have a good time at this movie for that alone.

Now, if you’re looking for a nice cohesive well told story with multi-dimensional characters? Nah (Although that is kind of the movie’s charm).

The first 30-ish minutes of this movie is nearly walk-out bad but then at minute 31-ish it finally does something. The beginning of the movie is the kind of stuff you’re going to skip past on any re-watches.

Worst super hero movie villains list: Steppenwolf, the Dark Elf guy from Thor 2, Abomination, Bulls-Eye, Apocalypse, Doomsday, Venom era Spider-Man 3, Electro, fart cloud Galactus and then fart cloud Parallax. There are a ton of terrible villains in these movies.

You’d agree those are all terrible? Lets go about 12 rungs down the ladder. Acting. Motivation. Music. Presentation. Design. Character. The absolute worst.

The Life Foundation and Evil Business Guy Carlton Drake and Riot are some of the worst villains. They’re from a pre-Avengers world where the motivation is “They’re just evil. Who cares. Its comic books. Shut up. Bad guy does bad stuff.”

Carlton Drake is making out and having gross PDA with Being Evil. And the speed at which his Evil accelerates is numbing. Just laugh. They literally combined every Evil Businessman trope into one character and then turned up the suckage. Doesn’t get any better any further into the movie, just gets worse. There were points in his Evil Plan where I couldn’t help it but laugh during a Super Serious Scene.

Poor poor love story and love interest. She gets the bare minimum of any form of character you could give someone.

Shaky and suspect dialogue in a lot of scenes. “Have a nice life!”

A great chase scene and a couple of neato fight moves, but the more CGI that is on-screen the bigger a visual mess you’re suffering through. I can’t imagine the migraine I would get in 3D. A nighttime fight between a black CGI goop monster against a charcoal grey CGI goop monster splooping punches of gloopy impact is just… what were they thinking? There are moments in the big action climax where I literally couldn’t figure out what is happening or who is who.

The PG-13 saps some of the life and impact from scenes. There are things that should be more visceral than they are. It doesn’t need to go full vile gore-sploitation mess, but Venom can be a really visceral character. There are elements of body horror and gore to his story and actions. Some of the actions and motivations feel a bit limp as the numbing of anything too extreme is a bit lame. Imagine if you never got more than sideboob in a movie about strippers? Either be PG-13 or be R but trying to be in the middle results in a tonal mess.

In a world where Logan and Deadpool and Dredd exist, you can have a successful R rated Venom.

I still liked it quite a bit. I wouldn’t really say it felt tonally different or really all that distinct. It fits in with the pile. There’s a good, charming performance and a few neat ideas here that are holding that train wreck together as it rolls into the station. I almost don’t think this movie “works” without it being terrible where it is terrible.

As for a sequel, the movie is there and the stinger makes you want to try again and show up again. Take another swing and get someone who has a clue to put it together. Or maybe keep it a bad mess. I don’t know. It was fun and sometimes that’s all a movie has to be.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

Venom – Trailer 2 Reaction: This movie looks terrible.

By no means is a trailer indicative of the final product. Its an ad. Venom could be good, but impressions from the teaser, first trailer and second trailer leave me expecting an awful mess. I’d love to be wrong, but… jeez it looks like Sony went and Sony’d all over a Spider-Man movie again.

Forgive if I ramble, but it looks cheap and schlocky. Maybe its the suit. Maybe its because it gives me edge-lord “I’m So HaRdCoRe” vibes. Maybe its because it looks like its a Zack Snyder movie with that washed out visual palette.

There are some promising badass things: ripping the face is badass, the axe hands are badass, the big tongue is badass, having all the Hybrid symbiotes on their own is badass.

But there are some dumbass things: indistinguishable character design is dumbass, the goofy Venom face worming itself off the body to have a chat is dumbass, the “ima eat u” monologue is dumbass.

I just look at this and wonder if anyone is excited to watch this CGI fight at night between a black symbiote with no distinguishable markings versus a dark grey symbiote with no distinguishable markings? If it wasn’t for someone telling me who was who in this still I would not have known.

I feel as if the film going to suffer from what plagued Suicide Squad: combat and plot better off meant for an R rating but neutered for PG-13, and then a #bigdumb CGI ending because that’s in the recipe book for comic movies.

It just feels off.

The concept is interesting enough. Maybe it is Actually Good. Or maybe its such a bad schlocky mess it takes the needle so far below zero it comes back around to a ten.

I’m not too familiar with director Reuben Fleischer. His IMDB isn’t inspiring but there have been a lot of directors with meh previous work who have come into big budget action flicks and done well. The cinematographer worked on Black Swan, Requiem For A Dream and Pi so you can expect some interesting and weird camera work that could be hella neat.

But like, come on. Its Sony. The studio that couldn’t keep Adam Sandler happy enough to be his exclusive studio. The studio that bungled Venom once before. The studio that bungled Spider-Man so badly, twice, that they just gave most of the property back to a rival studio just to have the public not hate Spider-Man anymore. The studio that made Ghosbusters 2016 and banked on it being the start of a cinematic universe.

Or maybe its good and writing this was a waste of everyone’s time. Guess we’ll figure out on October 5th.

2016 Summer of Movies: Is It The Greatest Comic Movie Of All Time?

Captain America: Civil War 5/5

I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll just say this:

This is easily a contender for the best comic book based movie of all time.

How the Russo brothers directed a movie that had like 10 movies inside it, and upwards of 15 significant characters, and it doesn’t feel like a mess is one of hell of an accomplishment.

This isn’t sparring. This is fighting. This is characters ideologically opposed and motivated. And it all works.

I already feel like this is the best Spider-Man we’ve ever seen and he’s only in it as much as Hawkeye plus a post-credits scene.

I wondered thoughts before the movie that I thought would be kayfabe breaking in the film, but they explained those away in ways that actually make sense and get you to buy in.

For instance, if you’ve followed Tony Stark through the films then you understand his decision making, so you buy it. If you’ve followed Captain America, you understand why he opposes this, so you buy it. You understand why the teams are split as they are.

I’ve seen some flak tossed towards the villain Zemo in the film, but he isn’t the villain. He’s a villain. To be honest, who you define as the Big Bad in the movie is up to your viewing experience.

The first act works to establish the film. The second act with airport scene is the greatest, peak-est, lit-est, straight fire comic book scene of all time. The third act dials things back down in scale, but keeps the stakes high just as you think they were going away.

There is some really creative action sequences and inspired action scenes. The humour is perfect. And it even gets dark and intense, without feeling jarring and gross.

I’m going to see this multiple times. Its so excellent.

I will literally answer all your questions.

nod

Previously:

To Come:

  • Keanu (April 29)
  • X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows (June 3)
  • Popstar: Never Stop Singing (June 3)
  • Warcraft (June 10)
  • Independence Day: Resurgence (June 24)
  • The Secret Life of Pets (July 8)
  • Star Trek Beyond (July 15)
  • Jason Bourne (July 29)
  • Suicide Squad (August 5)
  • Sausage Party (August 12)

Maybe’s of the Summer

  • Money Master (May 13)
  • Neighbours 2 (May 20)
  • The Nice Guys (May 20)
  • Now You See Me 2 (June 10)
  • The Legend of Tarzan (July 1)
  • Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (July 8)
  • Ghostbusters (July 15)