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Review: “Venom” Goes Gross, Tone-Deaf, Wacky

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The tagline for Venom is that the world has enough superheroes but after such films as Deadpool and Suicide Squad, maybe we have enough anti-heroes as well. And after a rather strong winning streak by Marvel movies this year, the solo villain outing of Venom comes off as such an inky black sheep of the flock. It’s no wonder the rest of the MCU is distant from this Sony/Marvel film because the main issue is clear: Venom needs a hero.

Without a wisecracking Spider-Man to combat the likes of Venom, it’s up to Tom Hardy playing Eddie Brock to save the day. Well, maybe he doesn’t save the movie but Hardy at least cranks his acting to Nicolas Cage levels of absurdity so that he won’t blend in as yet another bland tough guy with a thin beard. Though strictly hit or miss, his overacting at least turns the picture into more of a spectacle to make up for the lacking script. Eddie is portrayed as a loser, so inept at his job as a media reporter that he uses confidential documents of his lawyer girlfriend Ann (Michelle Williams) to take down a super-science organization’s CEO Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). He fails miserably, loses his job, his girlfriend loses her job, and their relationship is done. All of this proceeds by such a dreary design of cliche dialogue to the point where I nearly laughed at a scene where Eddie is seen drowning his sorrows at a bar when somebody asks if he’s Eddie Brock, only for him to respond, “I used to be.”

But then Eddie becomes possessed by Venom, an alien Symbiote that can take the form of a Spider-Man looking blob with sharp teeth, a Gene Simmons tongue, and a big appetite. There’s a very telling moment when Eddie attempts meditation at one point where an instructor insists that some action is better than no action at all. And so Hardy goes for it in a role where he’s required to shove half-eaten chicken into his mouth, vomit horribly into the toilet, and take baths in lobster tanks. It’s an embarrassing sight at times where you can’t believe Hardy would go so low, but nobody can fault him for the effort, giving 110% to make sure Eddie appears absolutely insane with an alien voice constantly telling him to eat.

Compare Hardy’s performance with the rest of the film and you’ll see why such ridiculousness was life support on a dying movie. Riz Ahmed seems like he should be a sinister force for dabbling in alien experiments and soon fusing with the eviler alien symbiote Riot, but he comes off as dull and docile, as though a real CEO were attempting to fit into the role of a mad scientist. His transformation into Riot comes more by necessity than any real character development.

The same goes for the Symbiotes that seem to form roles far too late in the picture. Did you know Venom was a troublemaker on his home planet and can’t really go back? I didn’t until the third act when it’s off-handedly mentioned. Michelle Williams is absolutely wasted in her role, her character’s dry doctor boyfriend is an exposition robot, and you can’t help but feel Jenny Slate could’ve done more as a scientist who must jumpstart the meeting of Eddie and Venom.

Sure, Venom looks good, or about as good as a toothy and tongued blob of ink can look when computer generated. But how much can you enjoy a villain who spends most of his time obscured in blurry shots of spiky blobs? The car chase has its moments but also an absurdity for the presence of suicidal drones that explode cars. And how am I supposed to buy into the terror of the Symbiote when his introduction is so passive, on the same level of dreary sleepwalking as Eddie’s relationships and Drake’s alien scheme?

With such a story that seems far more concerned with how well Venom snarls than anything else, it’s almost watchable to see how Hardy conducts himself as an admirable captain going down with the ship. His performance narrowly steers the film away from being a forgettable farce and into the realm of weirdly terrible and misguided comic book movies. And so Venom won’t go down as the boring Spider-Man movie, but the misguided one where Tom Hardy rambles like a maniac and eats a living lobster.

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Have you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. 😉

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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