Tolkien (2019): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

Tolkien (2019): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

A Blog

If I were going to make a film about J R R Tolkien, a question would occur to me – I know there is no middle ground when it comes to the reception of this kind of thing, so who do I lean more towards, people who want to see Tolkien the linguist, Tolkien the author or Tolkien the war veteran? Perhaps I could do all three and run the risk of overstuffing and looking like I didn’t know which to focus on (which I don’t). I could just pick the one I find the most interesting, but it’ll be just my luck that no one else will share my opinion, which is all you have to go when making any kind of film, what, in your opinion, do you think will make for good entertainment?

I bring this up because I’m a big fan of Tolkien’s literary world, I haven’t read all of his Middle Earth works (still got the Unfinished Tales and the Fall of Gondolin left to go), Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is in my top ten favourite movies of all time and, while they are inferior and flawed, I also enjoyed his Hobbit movies for what they were: a good bit of fantasy adventure fun. But, to make a long story short, I don’t want anyone misunderstanding and thinking the reason I came close to hating the film “Tolkien” is because, as I am a fan of his work, it didn’t focus on what I wanted it to focus on, which simply isn’t true.

Tolkien is a film that doesn’t seem to know why it exists other than no one has made a film about the man who wrote Middle Earth yet. The writing is so stuffed with biopic cliches I started to wonder if the writers were resentful of the task laid before them and didn’t know what else to do, other than just fill it with the usual standard malarky. It could be arrogant of me to assume so, since I wasn’t there with them – I don’t know why they made the decisions they made, but it’s like they sat down to make a film about Tolkien and thought “shit, we have to make a film about Tolkien… how”? We get a little glimpse of his childhood and it serves no real story telling purpose, we find out later that it very easily could have though, we learn he and his brothers have been taught linguistics by their mother but we don’t see any of that when they’re together; so they opted out of showing in favour of telling – that’s nice.

Did the writers not think there was enough in his life to make a coherent film out of? I don’t know, I’m just trying to understand the decision-making behind the inclusion of all those awful biopic cliches! Ooh, the teacher mispronounced his name, har-har-har, ooh the teacher’s getting mad because Tolkien corrected him, ooh he’s going to make Tolkien stand up in class and read a difficult text, ooh he knows how to read it, har-har! Aside from Nicholas Hoult most other actors seem to be doing pantomime, they’re all really over the top and unbelievable to the point where it’s not even funny, in fact I’ll just come out and say it like this – the acting is not very good at all. Add that to the fact that some of the characters are the most loud and obnoxious shits I did my very best to avoid back when I was at school.

For some reason the decision has been made to include fantastical middle Earth imagery amongst the world war 1 set pieces, I was worried about this when I saw it in the terrible – just TERRIBLE TERRIBLE trailer, and after seeing in the context of the film I have to say it comes across as really rather tasteless and cheap. There’s another soldier who helps a sickly Tolkien through the trenches and just when it was starting to eerily remind me of Frodo and Sam, we learn that this soldier’s name is, indeed, Sam… I think I’m going to be sick. They couldn’t have found some other way of including it? Anything?… ANYTHING???

Overall I didn’t think it was that well told of a story, I was so put off by the over the top acting, cliched writing and lack of reason to exist that the whole thing just became boring, Hoult’s performance is too wooden for J R R Tolkien who, from what I’ve seen in interviews, was actually a pretty fun looking guy and Hoult did not bring that to the table. I’ll say this, there were a few wink-wink jokes scattered throughout that did make me chuckle, aside from that, Tolkien really didn’t do it for me, I didn’t like it at all.

 


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Booksmart (2019): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

Booksmart (2019): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

A Blog Motion Picture Maniac

I haven’t laughed this hard or this consistently at a comedy in a very long time. Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is a mercilessly funny, ultra fast moving and pleasantly charming little film that maybe does have some visible first-time-director scars but who cares? It’s a film I had no idea I needed in my life.

Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein play two long time high school friends (with more chemistry than a science lab might I add), who have pretty much spent the entirety of their high school days working the books into oblivion instead of ever just having typical teenage fun for once. With one more day to go before they cap it all off with graduation they make the horrific discovery that all the inferior dumbasses, who did nothing but party their youth away, also (somehow) got into prestigious schools and achieved high marks in spite of seemingly not giving a shit.

Feldstein has something that resembles an internal psychotic breakdown and declares that the two of them must compact all the years of missed out fun into a single night – tonight! Thus ensues the type of carnage you might expect. What sets Booksmart aside from your average cheap comedy is many fold, it’s actually very funny for one thing; the jokes work hard to cover a rather wide spectrum, they range from subtle to the bombastic, the delightful to the gross and disturbing. These two friends have been so for long enough that they know some seriously messed up stuff about each other you’d usually want to keep to yourself, I won’t get into specifics but I was nearly crying and who knew cringing could be a good thing?

It also helps that the performances on display are genuinely great, how often does that happen in a movie like this? Great actors playing actual thought out characters, colour me impressed as I even started to find them relatable before long. They have little code words between them that the film never feels the unnecessary need to explain and the way they sadistically tease each other brings relentless laughs. I think I liked Dever’s character best, while Feldstein was certainly a riot, Dever’s Amy had some interesting story going on that I couldn’t help but find really sweet and huggable. Other side characters also have their little motifs and it’s probably them whom people will remember most fondly.

Strangely enough the film also manages to do something I usually can’t stand in comedies – it gets serious for a minute, but I think Booksmart gets away with it because, unlike those other movies, I actually was invested in the characters and their little journey so when things actually started getting emotional I legit cared very much. The filmmakers even try their luck at riffing on teen-party-high school movie cliches which can be very risky, I mean how many times have we seen someone accidentally take drugs and start tripping out like David Cronenberg’s worst fever dream? Fortunately, I think, they pulled it off, it did catch me off guard for a second there but they keep the original laughs coming so well that I ended up not caring; in fact I’d say bravo.

Even Olivia Wilde’s description of the film: “the training day of high school movies” makes me laugh. I laughed here, I laughed there, just laughs everywhere! The pacing is as comfortable as sleeping in on a teacher’s training day while your younger sibling gets no such luxury, the characters are likeable, relatable and I wish I knew them in reality, the film is intelligent, unashamed, tastefully tasteless and I really had fun with it. I’ve heard a lot of people make Superbad comparisons which are true I guess, there’s even one joke that is ripped straight out of Superbad but it doesn’t matter, this is a great film, always room for some technical improvement but I care about that less and less the more I think about it.

 


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My Problem With Captain Marvel by Motion Picture Maniac

My Problem With Captain Marvel by Motion Picture Maniac

A Blog

Well here’s a review (well, kind of review) I didn’t want to write, the first ever MCU movie I don’t like and it’s the one released under circumstances dictating that if you don’t like it then you’re a sexist! Guess I should address that too – of course I’m not sexist you peanut! Any movie that I think has boring cinematography, badly shot fight scenes, a generic and underwhelming story and more than a few silly scenes to shake out of even the silliest of superhero celluloid (meow) is going to disappoint me whether it stars a male or female. Do I hate Captain Marvel? No, definitely not, in fact I understand the appeal completely, Marvel, the studio, has put forth a female superhero after many years of awkwardly dancing around such a venture and she’s connecting with people – good stuff, Sam L. Jackson says fuck the haters and rightly so, good for him, but me personally? Regarding my own opinion? I would be lying if I said Captain Marvel… “clicked”, I didn’t really like it all that much but the reasons I’m feeling more anger than the problems I have with it seem to warrant is to do with something bigger than just this single movie.

Let me explain from the beginning:

There’s been talk of the Marvel formula running out of steam for some time now, while still good, Doctor Strange was criticised for basically being Iron Man all over again, Ant-man and the Wasp was a straight up comedy with no depth whatsoever etc. And, for the most part, they’ve gotten away with it, there was barely an original bone in Black Panther’s body regarding plot but it was fun and, to many, revolutionary enough so that didn’t matter; I myself was only noticing this issue as opposed to being truly bothered by it. Then Infinity War rolled along and suggested that maybe, just maybe, all that formula floundering was going to change, with Captain Marvel, however, I think they’ve gone backwards in too many areas and the film, for me, was just very same old – same old.

Not in all areas of course, it’s great that they’ve finally pulled their finger out and for Christ’s sake just cast a female lead already, but am I the only one who thinks it draws attention to their previous attitude that doing so before was some kind of “ooh, I don’t know about that” difficult obstacle to overcome? I mean what was all that not doing a black widow toy about when Age of Ultron was making the rounds? We shouldn’t giving them points just because they finally grew up and did it at this point, if it’s turned out so good then why aren’t we demanding to know why it took them so long, like what was the problem before if it’s always been a big deal? Not to mention Wonder Woman having beaten them to it but Marvel’s is the arse to kiss so let’s just ignore it when DC does it first (and better) because that’s the trend right?

That’s what I am angry about in all this, the one thing that I do hate about Captain Marvel, it represents the double standard behind the whole DC vs Marvel thing, which I wouldn’t be that bothered about if A: I was still getting now scrapped DC movies I was looking forward to that were in play before everyone started bitching. And B: it didn’t mean good filmmaking has nothing to do with effort but rather the name of the brand. You wanna make a film everyone will hate no matter how hard you try? No matter how well shot it is or how high the level of production value? Well then just make a DCEU movie of course, and be sure to take it in original directions and do something new with the tired old material because they’ll really loath you for that! You wanna make a film everyone will just agree is good no matter how much you slack off? Then Marvel is the studio for you.

Marvel hasn’t exactly been a safe haven for auteur filmmakers with ideas of their own for some time now and as a result their films have gotten more and more workman-like over the years, the cinematography is becoming almost non existent, the stories are getting more and more familiar and therefor: underwhelming, their SFX have started to nose dive in quality; and if I was feeling pretentious I’d say they’re almost not even real films at this point but financial-minded merchandise products of themselves first and foremost. The days of the first Iron Man are over, and DC , starting its slate with risk taking, doing things differently and new ideas, gets ripped apart for daring to do so despite being better made films (shut up, yes they are, a fictional character abandoning their moral compass and going on a killing spree does not automatically mean bad filmmaking by definition, get a grip). To make a long story short, I’m a bit miffed that Captain Marvel has no style or artistry but everyone loves it anyway, while films that do have style and artistry and tones not broken up with awkward humour to break the tension, like Man of Steel and Batman V Superman, get torn apart regardless because “Superman didn’t smile enough” and now I don’t get my Justice League sequels because you people couldn’t stop moaning for five minutes – THANKS!

Captain Marvel has no art, personality, no passion, nothing much to say outside of “we’re doing a female superhero movie, aren’t we great!” It’s a film that looks like the two directors were never present, it’s a corporate machine, a conveyor belt of a movie that doesn’t take any risks, try anything new or even look that well made if I’m being honest, it didn’t do it for me. From a pedestrian view point I didn’t think Brie Larson was giving 110%, some of her line delivery felt a bit wooden at times, I thought the cinematography was just plain bad, there were times the editing was very mechanical: like during a scene early on in which Larson gestures her fists at Jude Law while they were talking between close-ups, but when she gestures it cuts to a wide shot dollying backwards that clearly wasn’t meant to go there before awkwardly cutting back to close-ups again.

Some of the fight scenes are shot very badly and way too close (but hey, they’re not hand held like man of steel so they’re automatically good right? Honestly, fuck all of you!) the humour was a bit out of place here and there, the various twists and turns scattered about the story did nothing for me, the way Nick Fury lost his eye was insultingly stupid and while his young CGI was very good and the action scenes you can actually see are indeed entertaining, I’m sorry to report Captain Marvel just wasn’t for me, although I am a white guy so maybe that was intentional (I’m kidding, I’m kidding, I’m kidding).

I felt similarly about Shazam too, while I think that’s a better film because the story of a boy with the power to turn into a super powered grown-up should appropriately be very silly and funny (and it found success on those fronts), the direction and look was rather generic and uninteresting, but no one seems to care! Mainstream movies with darker tones are being punched in the face regardless of how well made they are because the definition of good filmmaking nowadays has nothing to do with original ideas, deeper stories and directors with personality, but rather depends on just whether or not they’re “fun”.

I’d like to see The Dark Knight receive its masterly reputation if it came out today, and why is this the case? Why are films with so-so style, look and production getting a pass as long as they’re fun/funny while better made films get ripped apart just for wanting to be a bit more serious minded? I’ll tell you why: the same reason making a badly received film apparently seems to warrant online abuse because your daughter commits suicide, it’s just one more way the human race SUCKS!

 


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Rampage (2009): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

Rampage (2009): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

A Blog

Your Honour, I would like to plead guilty to the crime of liking a film by Uwe Boll and not in the guilty pleasure, so-bad-it’s-good sort of way. Rather in that “no, really, I’m serious” sort of way. Is it a great film? No. Does it have problems? Of bloody course it does. But do I also think it’s one that deserves a fair look from any judge-by-the-cover detractors, who have based early dislike on the name at the helm? Oh you bet.

I’ve been working on a short film for a little while now and haven’t had that many opportunities to go to the cinema as per my usual amount (and what I have seen I don’t think I can get a whole review out of). What I have had some time for is evenings of old DVD’s and revisiting bits and pieces from the past; one of which is the one good Uwe Boll film that I own: Rampage. No, not the blockbuster with the Rock going up against big hungry beasties, I’m talking about the nasty as hell horror action punch to the faces of GTA fans everywhere in which Brendan Fletcher plays a mass shooter who spends much of the plot gunning down innocent civilians; not presented by Disney then?

We live in a world where the consensus of the tasteless is beginning to regress. We got over the initial shock of the video nasties, then we opened our eyes and realised all the people who caused the fuss, proclaiming that violent movies would bring down civilisation, were fucking idiots who deserve to have their graves desecrated and names vilified throughout history. But now we’re reverting back to that mindset because everything ever said and thought is just offensive to everyone now so oh well, never mind.

I say that because, believe it or not, I think Rampage may be the kind of film we need in our society, yes, even nowadays, in fact: especially nowadays. With all the mass shootings going on all the time and those with the power to do something about it shrugging everything off with a smile like it’s not their problem and everyone’s just being silly for asking, it could be up to films like this to give everyone the shock they need – why exactly? Well, I don’t think you’re supposed to like it; at least not in the traditional sense.

This is not a pleasant film to watch content-wise (which can only work if the surface works beforehand), Boll went and pulled his finger out with this one so on a technical level the film is actually kind of alright, it doesn’t look like the camera was simply pointed at the actors while they spout lines from an early stage practice script like House of the Dead or whatever. It feels like he actually made a film, like… a real film, with on beat editing, stylish camera work and decent performances, but also with a thematic intention, which is to deliver a brutal commentary; even if that means bordering on deliberately unwatchable. It’s weird, he’s proving here that he actually knows his stuff on a fundamental level so what happened with all of his other efforts?

The story goes thusly: Brendan Fletcher plays Bill, your regular ol’ average Joe whose parents think it’s time he moved out, he doesn’t get on with his boss, he’s got a rambling political realist for a best friend, who likes preaching online about the problems of the world, and he seems to bump into contagiously grumpy people at every turn; his life doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. That is until one day in which Bill reveals he hasn’t been as lacking in ambition as everyone thought by dressing head to toe in body armour, grabbing a couple of machine guns, and going out on the town to shoot, stab and blow up pretty much everyone in sight.

That’s it, guy has dull life so guy grabs guns and kills everyone. You wanna know why I think this film works? It doesn’t ever try to be cool or fun, it’s not really an action film, it’s a horror. The rampage of the title isn’t supposed to make you ooh and aah, the minimal use of slo-mo is there to drive home disturbance instead of emphasising any kind of badass-ness and there isn’t a single moment in which you’ll catch yourself cheering the “hero” on – even when the victim is someone who once wronged him. Our protagonist proves early that, while we’re stuck with him, he’s not going to be the most likeable of leads, you don’t approve of his actions and definitely do not sympathise with him. A few moments during the rampage come to mind in which the word “evil” has seldom been more appropriate, such as Bill calmly joking with a cornered woman while he reloads before shooting her to death the same way he would lock his front door.

Boll shot the thing with a shaky hand-held style and surprisingly realistic sounding improvised dialogue that makes everything feel spontaneous and as if the camera itself doesn’t know what’s going to happen next. This is very different to what his usual kitchen sink style of filmmaking is like, it’s crazy to even think it and I’ve already touched on it but wow, Boll actually shut up, sat down and gave thought to the thing – thought about aesthetics and the boundaries of style consistency. The first 45 minutes deal with Bill’s uneventful life as he goes through the motions but every now and then we get flashes of his plan in his head, probably the only thing I don’t like about the film; that and an explosion effect that is just not very convincing at all.

I get that Bill is supposed to be losing his grip and it’s an OK idea to show him thinking of the plan with shots of people dying, I mean the film’s called rampage and have you seen the poster? It’s hardly a surprise when bullets start flying, but there’s something about the way it’s done I don’t like that much, we see glimpses of latter scenes that don’t out right spoil them per say but still do feel like they’re giving too much away. It’s not just shots of nameless faceless victims falling but really specific stuff that it really doesn’t make sense to show. That’s about it though, I’d say everything else is smooth sailing.

As for the rampage itself, how does it do as a sequence? It begins with Bill suiting up and getting ready, probably one of my favourite scenes. He checks his outfit in the mirror and I nervously laugh when it is revealed how short he is, making him more human before he commences, and when bodies start falling it makes for one of the best and most haunting sequences of Boll’s career. The sight of innocent civilians dropping like flies the way they do here makes for some very uncomfortable viewing, no flash, no fun, just people getting shot and dying and it borders on nightmare inducing.

The scenes that follow begin to vary and mess with your expectations. Neither one in a beauty salon or another guiltily funny one in a bingo hall will be quickly forgotten, there’s a scene where Bill robs a bank because he may as well while committing mass murder I guess (I’m covering spoilers here), and it contains some pretty nasty shit; I won’t lie. All practical explosions that follow the not-so-great CGI one are superbly well edited (especially around a surprised police car), Brendan Fletcher absolutely crushed it as the unlikeable lead and, thinking about it, I really aught to get onto those sequels if they’re anything like this one.

Rampage may not be a great film given its irritating few issues but what works well really, really does work well. Jessica Derooij’s musical score is brilliant, the stunt work is brutal, the kills are just horrible and… yeah, well done Uwe Boll, trying his hand at a bit of social commentary and succeeding, who knew? I recommend you give Rampage a go, what’s the harm? It works, damnit! And when a broken clock is right for that one second it’s fun to point it out. Does this make me a lunatic? YES but who cares?

 


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Motion Picture Maniac’s Guide To Picking A Favourite Movie

Motion Picture Maniac’s Guide To Picking A Favourite Movie

A Blog

Dust off your DVD’s and prepare your Ludovico eye drops because you and I, together and holding hands the whole way through, are gonna solve the answer to that itchy personal question many unfortunate film buffs live with and suffer daily; twisting their skulls and scratching their brains like a schizophrenic gorilla trying to make the voices stop every time some ill informed passerby asks: so you’re a film buff eh? What’s your favourite movie then?

Do you have trouble choosing from the hundreds (if not thousands) of films you’ve seen? Do you have a list of personal bests from which you wish to pick one out, like a top 10, 20 or 50, but don’t know which one to go with? Let these feelings of incompleteness bother you no longer fellow film nuts as you’ve come to the right place, read forth what lies before you and you just might be able to pluck your all time favourite from the ocean of films drowning your mind and salting your eyes red raw.

Note: Unless told otherwise, every answer to the following should be a “yes” in order for the subject to qualify for the holy position, if any “no’s” come along then the candidate is caput and it’s time to start over with a new and different choice; let’s begin!

Do you, without question, love every single scene and every single shot; not being able to live without even one if it were removed?

Is there absolutely nothing about it you dislike, do you even enjoy its visible mistakes in an endearing sense?

Would you highly praise every single one of its filmic elements: acting, cinematography, narrative, style, editing etc.?

Do you feel better after watching it, would you say it’s good for your soul; regardless of how dark/depressing the film is intended to be?

Have you or could you watch it in excess of 200 times without getting bored, and watch it a further 200 times after that? (An impressive feat right there!)

Are you unhealthily obsessed with it even when you’re not watching it? Does it pop into your mind at the worst possible moment like porn does with teenaged dickheads.

When it is over, is your first instinct to hit the replay button without a moment’s hesitation? Everyone knows a favourite film should take priority over a personal life.

Do you and this potential candidate have a long history together? Have you loved it since childhood for example? A solid “yes” is not required but it can help if you’ve been watching it again and again for that long.

Do you know all the dialogue off by heart? In fact – do you have the entire film itself committed to memory? A sad admission but hey, we’re all friends here.

Are you well versed in its behind-the-scenes making?

Does it contain a message or themes you fundamentally agree with on a very personal level? I myself am partial to movies with a message pertaining to how much the human race irredeemably SUCKS!

Does it also apply to your own personal tastes on a surface level? Does it do things you just happen to like aesthetically; without really mattering too much to the story but never the less tickle you?

If a significant other hated it, would you end the relationship? (What was it I said about priorities?)

Do you even enjoy watching the end credits?

Is your favourite part the bit between opening up the DVD box and hitting replay after watching the whole thing? Har har har!

(These next few are for protection against the disapproving “um, OK then…” you may hear from the more elite type of film snob, you’ll know what I mean in a second)

Is more than ten years old? Better yet, was it made before the turn of the 21st century? (This is probably the most unfair requirement but apparently, if it isn’t, then it is taken less seriously for some reason; ever notice that?)

Is it actually considered good by most other people as well? If not, does it at least have a dedicated following or reputation for still being watchable; despite a negative reception on paper?

Would the non-film buff every man understand your choice if you told him? If yes, then great, if no, it matters as much as his inferior opinion, just ignore him, you can say no for this one; please do continue.

Finally, are the chances of you ever changing your mind slim to never? Tell a film snob your favourite film has been so for 15 years and watch their eyes widen with respect for your seriousness for film buff-ism.

Ok that’s it, that’s all I got, if this has helped you find your ultimate choice for best movie ever then great, fantastic even, if not then… really? Wow, tough crowd, worse still – if the choice all of these questions brought you to is something like Transformers 5 then… then… oh who am I kidding, more power to ya, who am I to judge? That being said, please tell me it was something else!

 


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Holmes & Watson (2018): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

Holmes & Watson (2018): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

A Blog

First order of business for the new year, go see Holmes & Watson and try not to bang my head on the nearest hard surface. I strained and pushed and maybe even exhausted-to-death every brain cell at my disposal (all two of them) trying to keep out all of the apparently legend making negative feedback this film had received during the week before my viewing, in my efforts to at least look like a professional I didn’t want my expectations jeopardised by the bandwagon, something I’ve taken a real disliking to over the years due to all the good films damned by such bystander mentality. I denied myself any and all expectations, opened up my mind and braced for whatever was about to come through gates to face me on the battlefield.

Alas the ever untrustworthy voice of the internet has proved itself a boy who cried wolf that is now speaking the truth. Holmes & Watson is an unfunny career ending cringe fest stuffed like an ancient Rome era torture victim being force fed wine with facepalm inducing jokes, hideous performances, characters you want to strangle to death, continuity errors so bad it gives the cast the power to teleport, sound design not even worthy of an English dub of a foreign film and a script so full of bad choices it may as well have just been a list of every opportunity for success you personally missed throughout your whole life because it induces the same level of misery.

The actors at work here are not actually acting, they’re goofing around with line delivery being completely incidental to the complete and total faffing about on display. It almost makes me want to buy the eventual DVD in the hopes it will contain behind-the-scenes footage of just what direction everybody was given to achieve such embarrassment because I just gots to know. I’m serious, what the hell was going on during the making of this thing, what did the set look like – the finale of the Susperia remake? Various big names show up from time to time to humiliate themselves, Kelly MacDonald looks like she can’t wait to get it over with and just go home, Ralph Fiennes appears literally paid to stand there given how few lines he has and Steve Coogan? Well, let’s just say his character’s, spoiler alert, DEATH neatly mirrors what his agent has just done to him in real life.

This is a comedy with no laughs, I chuckled ever so slightly at a captioned quote that opens the film because of who it’s credited to but every single joke that comes along afterwards is just embarrassing to give attention to. I wasn’t just sat there being grumpy, I wanted to laugh, I prayed for at least just one gag to set me off but no, the chosen saviour never showed up; my funny bone was un-molested the entire time! Just prancing about, putting on a stupid voice, hurting yourself and others, literally smearing shit on somebody and generally acting like a tit is not comedy, it is not the exact chemistry required to bring forth the laughs, I could do it right now while writing this review, hang on… there, I just stopped typing for a minute to do my best impression of Donald Trump having a sexual encounter with the John Carpenter THING and an epileptic walrus, you couldn’t see it but believe me – it wasn’t funny.

Speaking of Donal Trump, good grief, the jokes about him just keep on truckin’, not that I’m against making fun of that fucking idiot but the jokes Holmes & Watson offers up go very little beyond hey, you know who we’re talking about? Yes, hardy-har-har, a hat that says make England great again, a dialogue exchange about how democracy is intended to prevent evil selfish businessmen from taking power over the people; I wanted to laugh but all I did was cry in the end. Story beats are all familiar and typical of a cheap throwaway comedy like this, the editor should be absolutely ashamed, saying that: the whole cast should be ashamed too, that selfie joke in the trailer was just as brain pulverising in the actual film and those Titanic jokes… yeah, I personally can’t stand people who are easily offended these days, especially by simple jokes, but these were… um… yeah… I think that’s an indication to wrap up so Holmes & Watson, nothing says poster quote like “a comedy that isn’t funny, full of heroes you wish with all your heart were dead”.

Not the worst film I’ve ever seen, it’s runtime did manage to pass along quickly enough, it’s 90 minutes did not feel like 90 hours as some others have done in the past but I’ll be damned to my rightful place in hell much sooner than I’d prefer if this doesn’t earn a 1/10 just for sheer annoyance.

 

Author: Motion Picture Maniac  

 


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Motion Picture Maniac’s Review of 2018

Motion Picture Maniac’s Review of 2018

A Blog

Another ghastly year on this spherical clump of crap we call a planet closes up shop while we all desperately try not to think about how quickly it said it’s bye-byes and left without finishing its coffee, further making us dread how fast the rest of our lives could very well cut to credits as inspired by Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Anyway enough sunshine and lolly pops, here’s my roundup of 2018, as if it’s a year for film we actually want to look back on but what can I do?

I mean this was a dull one wasn’t it? How many of the year’s most anticipated like Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom left everyone with little more than a shrug, in fact I’ll go even further, you wanna know how bad this year was? I didn’t have any room for Fifty Shades Freed even on my dishonourable mentions! The infamous leather-clad climax of boring McMimzie girl’s dumbass relationship with abusive-o billionaire managed to escape via human shields with the films I felt were somehow WORSE.

Let’s start with the favourites:

 


Top Ten Best

Aquaman
Silly and stupid can often mean good just as much as bad, and there are different spectrums for every type of filmic goodness, point being: if deliberately stupid and bonkers popcorn entertainment could a masterpiece in its own right – Aquaman would be it; well done DCEU, I liked you before you were cool.

Assassination Nation
Not a pleasant movie to watch at times, but on top of simply being aligned with my own personal taste for trippy weirdness, any film that’s truthful and direct about how stupid masses of human beings can be and how irredeemably amoral we are as a species is ok by me.

Susperia
You want to know something, I actually rather liked this more than the original, sure there’s some stuff that didn’t need to be there story-wise but the filmmaking on display here just tickled me pink, every shot you see exists one helluva freaky personality, the style rocked and there’s plenty of scenes I think I’m going to remember for a long time; and that last act… oh my heavens!

Deadpool 2
This movie is so… damn… funny! It’s pretty well made too, so from my perspective it only did its job well and then some, a successful exercise in classy tastelessness that brought forth the filth without forgetting to have a heart for cuteness sake.

Mandy
What did I say about films aligned with my own personal taste for trippy weirdness? What it has appeared to be a good year for seems to be the crazy ones, the bonkers beasts, the hallucinogenic journeys into the unknown and Mandy ticked all those boxes, Nic Cage back to what he’s good at; please tell me this is only the beginning.

First man
Im not surprised that, in today’s political climate, a film that doesn’t explicitly show a flag being planted into the moon gets labelled “unpatriotic” by attention seeking shoulda-been-abortions, but who cares about them, this was one of the most powerful and engaging and extremely well made/best looking movies of the year, seriously, this is the best Neil Armstrong movie that could be made.

A Quiet Place
Wasn’t a bad year for horror either now that I think about it, nice to have it back, boasting a premise so good it almost should’ve been disappointing (this is not a perfect world after all) A Quiet Place beat multiple odds and executed, not just its brilliant gimmick, but just plain good filmmaking, almost like Krazinski himself suffered the epidemic of bad horror films these past few years and took it upon himself to make things right, I wonder what he’ll do next.

Isle of dogs
Before seeing the next two this was my pick for film of the year for a while, talk about the style being the same as the substance, just like Deadpool this film earns its place by simply doing its job really well, a job other films prove doing so is rather tricky, it’s both well made and really-really funny, yes Mr Anderson, I do indeed love dogs, also the animation, the jokes and a million other things.

Blackkklansman
I’ll just say it, Spike Lee sounds like a bit of a dick, but this joint just rules, not only is it nostalgically stylish and thought provoking beyond preparation but it couldn’t have come out at a better time, when there’s a childish racist KKK defending fat loser (don’t deny it) in the Whitehouse the cockroaches feel safe coming out from under their rocks to go public with their backwards-as-hell views and it’s up to films like this to shock the rest of us with brains into maybe doing something about it.

The miseducation Of Cameron Post
And what an absolute gem this is, winning the top prize as my pick for film of 2018 not just for being the best film, I think, both functionally and aesthetically but because of its success in executing a theme very important to me personally, modern religion rarely proves itself anything more than a blatantly irrational imaginary right to oppress the current minority group of the day! It was used to argue for slavery once upon a time, against interracial marriage after that and now they’re calling for the gays to either convert or die; it’s up to tear jerking and wonderfully heart warming movies like this to slap those backwards fools in the face so we can maybe start working harder towards greater worldly empathy among humankind – not that fundamentalists know anything about empathy, kindness or morality but oh well.

Honourable mentions that didn’t make the cut:

Creed 2
Mission Impossible: Fallout
Widows
Avengers: Infinity War
A Star Is Born
The Old Man And The Gun
Christopher Robin
Sicario 2: Soldado
Tully
Black Panther

Notable Netflix Release:

Annihilation (I didn’t love Roma as much as everyone else it seems)

Best films that came out in 2018 but IMDB counts as 2017 releases for some reason:

The Shape Of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
Lady Bird
You Were Never Really Here
I, Tonya
Revenge
Phantom Thread
Brawl In Cell Block 99
First They Killed My Father

Best Trailers For 2018 Releases:

Aquaman Final Trailer
Sicario 2 First Teaser & Third Trailer
Creed 2 Second Trailer
Mission Impossible: Fallout Official Trailer
Deadpool 2 Final Trailer
Widows Trailer
A Quiet Place Teaser
Black Panther Official Trailer
Isle Of Dogs Official Trailer

 

Most Anticipated Film Of 2019

 

Godzilla: King Of The Monsters

 

Favourite Quotes:

 

Aquaman: “Dad”? That’s your kid? – shame on you.

Isle Of Dogs: To the north, a long rickety causeway over a noxious sludge marsh leading to a radioactive landfill polluted by toxic chemical garbage, that’s our destination, get ready to jump.

Creed 2: Is good picture.

Avengers: You should have gone for the head.

Deadpool 2: Scout master Kevin?

Ready Player One: it’s fucking Chucky!

Blockers: these aren’t made for comfort, they’re made for speed.

Susperia: They’ll hollow me out and eat my cunt on a plate.

Christopher Robin: People say nothing is impossible but I do nothing every day.

Rampage: Of course the wolf flies.

Notable Scenes:

Sicario 2: Different way to fire a gun.

Game Night: Amateur Bullet Removal.

Aquaman: Arthur vs Orm 2nd round.

Creed 2: Drago embraces his son.

Bohemian Rhapsody: Live Aid.

Infinity War: “I don’t want to go”.

A star Is Born: first duet.

Fallout: Tom breaks his foot.

First Man: Spinning out of control.

Deadpool 2: opening credits.

Black Klansman: Charlottesville footage.

A Quiet Place: Cut to Black.

Solo: Darth Maul.

Susperia: Dance the twist.

Annihilation: Bear.

Brawl In Cell Block 99: Face stomp.

Revenge: Glass removal.

Phantom Thread: “Where is Cyril”?

Now for the other end of the spectrum, the least fun half of an end of year review, the worst films of 2018, the cinematic experiences that make me question just what the hell I’m doing with my short time alive, but never mind, here they are; brace for impact!

 

Top Ten Worst

Proud Mary
Talk about televisual, generic and boring!

Teen titans go to the movies
Heard it wasn’t that bad, it wasn’t, it was so much worse, the image of a twerking naked baby Superman will haunt me for years.

Winchester
There’s a shot of the haunted mansion made entirely of CGI that starts as an unmoving frozen frame for a split second, now that’s lazy.

Dog days
Romantic ensemble comedy with dogs, could be funny, could also be agonisingly dull and unoriginal.

Breaking in
How far the director of V For Vendetta has fallen, when characters in a life or death situation start saying “freaking” but their lip movement say a different four letter word – you know you don’t care.

Walk like a panther
Similar filmmaking standards to Pudsey The Dog… I am in hell.

The nutcracker and the four realms
The poor guy playing the title role will never work again if this is the best he can do, one of the few movies I’ve fallen asleep watching.

A wrinkle in time
I expected better of Ava Duvernay, also a movie less awkward, embarrassing and horribly acted but we all want things we can’t have, what an absolute cringe this thing is.

The Necromancer
The pieces of camcorder crap I made at college were better than this, I understand the plight of the no budget filmmaker, but no money is no excuse for no effort, or the inclusion of every dialogue cliche that ever existed – EVER!

Show dogs
It was either gonna be The Necromancer or this, but Show Dogs won out because at least Necromancer isn’t a kids film containing a running gag about learning not to bite a guy whose job it is to fondle your genitals, that’s right kids, if someone wants to touch your bits then you should let them without complaint, would be bad enough just being one of the worst made films in existence but no, they had to go the extra mile into the inferno.

 

Dishonourable mentions

 

Death wish
The strangers prey at night
The guernsey literary and potato peel pie…
Hell fest
The predator
Status update
The possession of Hannah grace
Truth or dare
Night school
Johnny English strikes again

 

Biggest disappointment I was actually looking forward to:

 

15:17 To Paris

And I suppose that’s it, so – Merry Christmas and all things in between, happy new year and see you in hell.

 


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Overlord (2018): Review by Motion Picture Manaic

Overlord (2018): Review by Motion Picture Manaic

A Blog

Sorry to say, I was disappointed with Overlord, the pulp tale of a small batch of US soldiers dropped into Nazi occupied France, mere hours before the landing in Normandy, only to discover a secret underground laboratory in which locals are transformed into zombie soldiers for the sole purpose of world domination for the Third Reich. That synopsis sounds more than a little cool does it not? Like it could be the more up-beat exploitation zombie mowing extravaganza version of the movie Downfall, which… damn, I think that’s ten years old now!

Unfortunately Overlord is not much fun, it’s R rating/18 certificate has not been taken advantage of as much as the material calls for, its story beats are generic and unoriginal, the characters are not particularly likeable and the Nazi zombie soldier stuff feels like a mere after thought for only act 3. Seriously, the mad science experiment stuff feels hardly even there, it was only the major selling point of the trailer – now you could say well, surely that’s just the trailer’s fault for giving off false impressions; true, but what else then is the movie offering up? A generic load of not very much to be honest.

When I say the characters are unlikeable – oh dear God, the characters make some well and truly stupid beyond belief decisions. After jumping out of an airplane the fact of reality is quickly established for our main heroes that there are Germans literally everywhere, they could be just off in the distance ready to shoot or around any corner turned; and I mean established very, very quickly. So what do the heroes do after grouping up and finding out only about 5 of them survived even getting on the ground? Walk and talk like they’re on a good old stroll, the Germans are forgotten about within seconds, don’t worry that their presence has been established as anywhere and everywhere, nice night for a walk isn’t it?

Not only that but the token no-nonsense grumpy guy gets saddled with the task of reminding these fools, our main characters, to stop talking so loudly, to turn their damn torches off, that maybe using a camera isn’t such a good idea; stuff a soldier really ought to know in enemy territory at night, or better yet, stuff anybody with a brain would work out through standard common sense. The real kicker for me though, was when they capture a Nazi officer just as he is about to start raping a village girl who is keeping the heroes hidden, they tie him up and the grumpy guy starts beating him up, demanding information about the underground zombie lab, and our number one hero, the absolute main character in all this, has a look on him like “this is wrong, we shouldn’t be doing this, we’re sinking down to his level”, and he even tries to stop the grumpy guy from continuing the beating, citing that “that’s enough”!

How are we supposed to feel about that? The guy wasn’t just a Nazi, he’s a rapist too and we’re supposed to feel bad when he gets beaten up; because the main character is just so good and moral and kind hearted underneath? Well screw that noise, I kept thinking of Inglourious Basterds, because, you know, the guy was a feckin’ NAZI!!! A RAPIST NAZI NO LESS, beat him with baseball bats, scalp his head, carve a swastika into his face, but no, Overlord wants to take moral high ground and suggest that violence against violence is not the way to go – WHAT???

This is supposed to be a film about zombie soldiers and you’re trying to teach lessons in humanity? Get outta here! Even though moments of gore are not shied away from, this is hardly the gore fest its rating suggests, it’s like the movie doesn’t want to allow itself to let loose and have fun with its premise, choosing instead to try and be serious, is it ashamed of its exploitation roots or something like that? The music was a mixed bag, I counted about two times it was actually really good and unique sounding, most other times it was just as generic as the rest of the film, dialogue didn’t impress, the story was told in a rather boring fashion, characters do things, not because of who they are, but because that’s just how people behave in the movies and don’t even get me started on small things like a character drying off after falling head to toe in water very quickly or a multitude of gun shots failing to alert the enemy who are literally just outside.

Overlord has no idea what it wants to be or why it should exist, it feels more like a tired obligation rather than something someone legitimately wanted to make and barely even offers what was first promised, let alone what one would expect from a halfway decent movie, you could say the acting isn’t too bad, a little unremarkable but far from terrible and on the technical front it’s ok I guess, but aside from that: no, not for me thank you.

 

Author: Motion Picture Maniac  

 


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The Descent (2005): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

The Descent (2005): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

A Blog

It’s actually kinda difficult, as of beginning to write this blatant gush, to put into words exactly why I love The Descent as much as I do, aside from it simply being a great film in its own right. As of writing this review, Halloween is imminent, tomorrow in fact, and what film would be better to review than one of my all time favourite horror movies, one that I’m yet to see someone review in honour of Halloween; despite being one of the most terrifying movies ever made in my opinion.

A group of women head out into the wilderness to go cave diving a year after one lost her entire family to a car accident. A rock slide occurs, trapping them underground, and as they try to feel and squint their way through the pitch black tunnels towards some kind of secondary exit, that may not even exist, it becomes very apparent that this cave system also functions as a home for a pack of deformed monstrosities hell bent on gobbling them up. Just when you think being stuck in a maze of caverns and underground tunnels is enough to send you around the twist Mother Nature also sees fit to send the ugliest motherf*ckers on earth to rip you limb from limb; just for good measure.

I first saw The Descent at a time when it just so happened to tick every box I had ready and waiting for a new horror film, as a teenager horror movies were my primary thing (in a feeble and incredibly stupid attempt to seem cool at school) but I didn’t just want any old straight to DVD or generic nonsense, no I wanted something good and for the horror film genre that’s a pretty rare happening. Oh but I was one fussy little sh*t, during childhood I developed an obsession with monster movies, one that carried over into later life, and being young I was frustrated with all the “unseen threats”, potentially cool looking monsters that were constantly kept in the shadows or behind whatever.

Being older now I know that is indeed the better way to go, as what’s scary is what we imagine, not what we can simply gawk at, but back then I wanted a monster I could look at, stare at, but I was setting an impossible task because I also wanted it to be scary; hard to achieve if you’re just going to show it like that. But then along came The Descent, the movie that cracked the code, achieved the impossible, that got away with showing the monster and managing to be utterly terrifying at the same time; it broke the rule and is much better for it. Even into adulthood I find it very scary, so it hasn’t lost its touch or proven it never had one since I was so naive back in the day, in fact, watching it with older and wiser eyes; I do not hesitate to call it one of the greatest horror films of all time.

Even without the monsters the film has a nerve shredding tone, the opening car crash blasts your system to pieces and never lets you piece it back together again – a film in which a child dies in a car accident? I hadn’t seen to much of that before this. Shauna Mcdonald plays her character as not having gotten over it, even as the film skips a year, which sounds realistic enough, who the hell would get over losing their entire family within a single year? But in movies people often get over traumatic experiences rather quickly, and with The Descent’s very cold and autumn-like colour scheme and contrast, one can’t help but feel very uneasy seeing the character Sarah continue to appear as though it only happened last week.

That’s something more than a little under appreciated about this movie, despite knowing full well what it wants to achieve and never straying away from the appropriate simplicity of its plot, Neil Marshall never once forgot that these need to be characters to like and root for. It’s an all female cast without a single stereotype or outdated but atypical trope in sight. We have our hero who starts off uneasy about the whole thing and a tad useless (but never unsympathetic) before literally being reborn in blood and becoming very capable, there’s the one we don’t quite trust, the hero’s one and only hope for sanity who watches out for her (and doesn’t last too long); I mean this so easily could’ve been your run of the mill monsters in a cave movie but we have actual characters running around I legitimately care about – that and… the crawlers.

The crawlers just might be my favourite movie monsters, looking like wax dummies of Gollum on a meth binge that came to life with a hunger for flesh, there’s an uncanny valley feel to what little human features they have left, making them very scary to look at indeed. Like I said before, this movie broke the rule and got away with it, in this instance it isn’t what we don’t see but what we are allowed to have a good close-up look at that makes us fear for our hearts bursting, Marshall handled these beasties like a chemist conducting something dangerous, he gave one million percent effort to every single scene in which even only their presence can be felt.

The sounds they make are what keep us awake in a cold sweat as we try to sleep at night, their faces are what we never hope to see waiting for us in the dark, they’re often shot with a sped up frame rate, a tool I always find effective in horror, that gives their movements a very spider-like feel and they sometimes even interact with the camera, looking right into or coming straight for it; making us feel they’re coming for us. That’s why they work so well and succeed in being truly scary, every shot showing them feels thought over and carefully crafted, like Marshall has horror down to a science, he never just throws them onscreen, every time the show up its like the first time we see them; even when they’re not there we know they’re not too far away.

It’s funny because you almost don’t need the crawlers at first for the film to be effective, it’s dark tunnels and caves give even someone like me, who must be as far away from claustrophobic as you can get, the chill that gives your spine a good… crawling. When they do make their grand appearance I was surprised they don’t actually show up to cause trouble until roughly the last half hour or so and it’s a bloodbath, quite literally a bloodbath; the kind of lair I would rather die than wake up trapped in. The set design and lighting complement each other very well, making you feel not just trapped but in somewhere you absolutely don’t want to be trapped in.

That’s something the sequel really failed to do, the lighting style consisted of little more than having everything be pitch black and having the characters hold a very minimal light source and I can’t recall many movies presenting darkness to quite that extent. One thing to note is how little time there was to make the damn thing, sets are reused a number of times for different locations but you can never tell, there’s a two on three fight scene at the end that could only be shot in one single day and it’s better than most films allowed to shoot theirs in a week; every time I see it I can never tell where there’s any kind of compromise.

Then there’s the fan theory about a particular hidden subtext, especially regarding the film’s uniquely bleak ending. What can I say except that I absolutely love this theory, it is said that, in actuality, there are no crawlers, that Sarah has lost her mind and murdered all of her friends, something else that makes this film that tiny bit more special – you can think about it too, more than you can say about most other creature features. I could go on folks, I really could, The Descent was my dream movie as a teenager and now, as an adult, it’s just one of the best horror films ever, for me it’s perfect, the outstanding lighting and cinematography that create genuine uneasiness, the characters you actually like and don’t want to see die, the fantastic handling and presentation of its monsters that succeed in being very scary, extreme gore, relentless violence and a very interesting subtext; this is a movie I cannot live without.

Author: Motion Picture Maniac 

 


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Venom (2018): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

Venom (2018): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

A Blog Motion Picture Maniac

OK, this is a weird one, sometimes, having mixed feelings on a film isn’t the surest thing in the world, the answer to the question “what did you think?” simply being “I have mixed feelings” doesn’t feel like it does a rather endearing little film like “Venom” the justice it deserves. Did Venom have bad? Yes, yes it did. Did Venom have good? Also yes, I would be lying through my teeth so hard they would come flying out like bullets if I said I thought it didn’t. Do I feel hesitant to call the overall piece a generally good film? Yeah, I’m afraid so, but why then give it a 6 as opposed to 5? The reason is, when I’m mixed in this particular and oddly specific way, I ask myself the question – would I actively want to see it again? And in the case of Venom; the answer is yes.

Tom “Shut The F*ck Up You C*nt” Hardy plays Eddie Brock, a famous reporter who, through a series of circumstances, finds himself host to a parasitic alien symbiote named Venom, sometimes a disembodied voice in Eddie’s head with some control over Eddie’s body, other times a big black monstrosity with big teeth who likes to bite off people’s heads. Eddie must get over the fact that Venom is here to stay and embarks on a raw meat munching mission, kitted out with quips n’ quotes, to win back his girl and beat the baddie.

The plot is very basic when you think about it afterwards, but is that a bad thing by definition? I’ve seen a lot of people make a comparison between this film and all the Marvel superhero films that predate Iron Man and I think that’s because Venom’s plot is late to the game. It’s as simple as A B C, 1 2 3 and at this point in movie history we’re all used to A 1 B 6 17 C (the same reason some MCU films are feeling familiar in the story department), but again, does that make it bad? Personally I have no idea, I’m disappointed that A B C, 1 2 3 lacks ambition but I also like the aesthetic of the movie ending up that way because it enjoyed watching Tom Hardy go nuts too much for its own good; something I’m not mad about because I too am guilty of doing.

I freaking love Tom Hardy, he’s one of my favourite actors and the primary reason I look forward to films he’s in, films I otherwise wouldn’t think too much about before seeing anyway due to cinematic obsession but I digress. I have read some reviews that call this his worst performance but I couldn’t disagree more, there’s not a moment in the entire movie in which he’s onscreen that I could take my eyes off him, as well as being a much more likeable iteration of the character than what’s found in the source material and the stupid Spiderman 3; he’s like the physical embodiment of a carnival (I’m talking about Eddie Brock and the voice of Venom with that one).

It’s a shame the tone is as inconsistent as it is because when the movie wants to be funny I think it really succeeds, Venom’s quips always had me laughing and big dumb fun action scenes accompany that sort of thing quite well. Unfortunately the jokes are often broken up by evil mad scientist stuff that belongs in a different movie – not badly made, just inconsistent and strange. The directing doesn’t help the tone much since I’m not sure Ruben Fleischer was interested in originality so much as just doing his own version of stuff he liked seeing in other movies, he didn’t bring his own sensibility to the table, Venom doesn’t have an original look or feel of its own, its cinematography is commercial and unremarkable and I think a sequel needs both a different director and an R rating, sorry Ruben but i think this task is better suited to an auteur.

There’s a word I would use to describe Venom, unremarkable, apart from Hardy a lot of it feels just that, even bordering on generic, shoot maybe the story being late to the game is a bad thing after all , the plot, characters and style feel derivative of other works and I, like many others it seems, was hoping for more, in fact I’ll be truthful – I really wanted Venom to be great to spite a critic I can’t stand and who embodies a lot of the arrogance and pretentiousness that has mutilated modern internet film criticism into the popularity contest it is today (no, it’s not Mark Kermode), I mean what is the deal today with judging a film’s quality before it’s even been shot because of, in this guy’s case, the character it’s based on supposedly being overrated and the fanbase is just ill-informed?

No, I’m not grasping at straws in a desperate attempt to say Venom is a good film out of sheer spite and personal resentment towards the current comic book movie critical culture that called it terrible before it was even made, I’m just a bit fed up with movies like Venom doing nothing to help disprove these idiots and falling into status quo’s that make their pompousness predictions look like some kind of prophesising like their smug looks suggest!

All that being said I did enjoy Venom, I enjoyed its action, its cast and performances, its jokes and while the CGI on things like crashing vans and super powered feet leaping from a brick wall wasn’t all that good the CGI on all things symbiote was top notch and impressively detailed, like I said at the beginning, I asked myself if all that is enough to want to see it again and the answer is yes. Venom is a messy, flawed, not sure what it wants to do with itself guilty pleasure that I had fun with during moments of genuine effort such as the action and the dynamic between Eddie and Venom.

Author: Jamie Robinson (Motion Picture Maniac)

 


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