Venom: Let There Be Carnage and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Andy Serkis
The first Venom movie wasn’t exactly a cult classic, but it did have a lot more fun with the formula and with the characters than I expected it to. Still, trying to figure out what to do with the character for a second movie, especially since we’re STILL keeping it away from anything Spider-Man related, could easily upset the balance and stretch the joke further than it can go. The trailers definitely seem to be having a lot of fun with the formula which may be the right way to try and make lightning strike twice, and Andy Serkis is definitely an interesting choice for director, so who knows? Is this a campy and fun romp that captures the Venom magic for a second time, or did our luck run out when the first movie turned out to be not-terrible? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of the first film, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) has settled into a routine with the symbiotic space goo that resides in his body and the two are trying to get his journalism career up and running again with this big story of captured serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) who for whatever reason has taken an interest in the reporter. After a particularly heated discussion between the two of them that ends in a small amount of bloodshed, Kasady somehow gets a bit of the symbiote in him as well and to his utter surprise, it saves him from the death penalty so that he can roam the streets of San Francisco; leaving untold CARNAGE wherever he goes! Oh, but this is no mindless murderer with a one track mind as Kasady has bigger plans involving a friend from childhood who JUST SO HAPPENS to have super powers (Naomie Harris) and has been locked in a secret super-prison that would normally be impenetrable but Kasady’s new powers intend to put that to the test. All while this is going on, Eddie and Venom are going through some growing pains in their relationship as Venom wants to be free to save the world and eat people in spite of Brock’s attempts to keep him safe and hidden; all of which comes to ahead once they learn that Eddie’s ex Anne (Michelle Williams) is engaged which brings whole new dimensions of stress between them. Can Eddie and Venom put aside their differences long enough to stop Kasady from wreaking havoc on the city? What exactly does Kasady have planned after reuniting with his childhood love, and does the symbiote in his body have anything to say about it? You’d think it wouldn’t be THAT hard to keep a space parasite happy when all it really needs is food and validation, but I guess that’s the troublesome nature of relationships and a square peg just won’t fit in a round hole no matter how hard you try.
Venom and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Ruben Fleischer
FINALLY!! I have been waiting so long for this movie to come out, especially with the last few weeks being miserable times doing these reviews. None of this wish washy crap where I am not savvy enough to understand the BRILLIANCE of movies like Mandy, Assassination Nation, and A Star is Born! None of the dull tedium of films like Night School or the disappointingly wasteful Hell Fest! I’m done with those! Give me something I can wrap my head around! Something I can easily size up and bash with a baseball bat for some cheap laughs and maybe some a bit of insight! Whether this is good or bad (STRONGLY leaning towards the latter if the trailers are any indication), I can’t imagine I’ll have to spend three hours hemming and hawing about the best way to describe why I’m the ONE critic out there who “doesn’t get it” because this is the kind of movie that I’m sure we’ll ALL have no problem understanding! It’s a sad testament to the times we’re living in that a Sony Spider-Man movie (except maybe not?) is what I consider a grounding influence in my life, but I’m not the one who voted for any of these jerks, nor did I have anything to do with the September release schedule! Anyway, does Venom actually turn out to be a fun adventure with one of Spider-Man’s most infamous foes, or did Sony WAY overestimate their ability to make another super hero movie after Disney held their hand on the last one? Let’s find out!!
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is your typical movie journalist! He’s on the streets looking for the REAL news and has an axe to grind against THE MAN! So much so that he finds dirt on some smug billionaire jerk named Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) who you’d THINK everyone would realize is bad just from the name, but Eddie’s got the story and springs these questions on him during an interview! A few problems though. First, this is the kind of billionaire who can get people fired from newspapers even if they DON’T run with the story, and second… well he got the dirt by hacking the computer of his girlfriend Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) who I THINK was a lawyer at the firm that Mr. Drake was employing, so she gets the boot too. Well THAT certainly backfired for poor privacy invading Eddie! Now no one will hire him because… I guess there’s NO outlet in existence that wants to hire someone who’s seemingly as competent as Eddie is (ESPECIALLY since he’s desperate and ready to work for cheap) and he’s just kind of sitting around depressed in his apartment; hoping his girlfriend will come back to him (she won’t) and hoping that his neighbor will turn down the loud music (he won’t). Oh, and I think there’s something to do with aliens? Yeah, apparently Mr. Drake had a spaceship that crashed but also had some alien lifeforms on it; namely The Symbiotes. These giant piles of goo turn out to be rather dangerous as we learn when Mr. Drake starts siccing them on human subjects. One of the scientists (Jenny Slate) doesn’t recall this being in her job description so she reaches out to Eddie who reluctantly goes to the facility with her after hours, and sure enough one of the Symbiotes escapes and attaches itself to Eddie. Eventually it reveals itself to be known simply as Venom and the two of them need to work together; otherwise the EVIL MR. DRAKE will find them and… I guess do even MORE evil experiments on them! Can Eddie and Venom uncover whatever it is that Drake has planned for humanity and the Symbiotes? What exactly is Venom’s endgame here, and does it require Eddie to stay alive for that much longer? What chances does Eddie have for reuniting with Anne now that there’s a third slimy wheel in the mix? WHAT THE HELL IS TALKING ABOUT WHEN HE SAYS TURD IN THE WIND!?
Solo: A Star Wars Story and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Ron Howard
Well I guess we were destined to get one of these sooner than later, and all I can say is… I’m glad we at least aren’t starting with Boba Fett. I mean it looks like we’re getting one of those no matter what, but out of all the characters to get a prequel… Han isn’t dead last? Eh… look. Han Solo is FINE, but what exactly do we need to know about him that isn’t made readily apparent the first time we see him Mos Eisley Cantina? Then again, him being a smuggler almost makes him a perfect candidate for a decent action film as smugglers tend to get in more gun fights than say… a farm boy on Tatooine, but is that enough to sustain a Star Wars movie? Probably, at least for me, but let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Han (Alden Ehrenreich), who will soon be taking the surname Solo, on the planet Corellia hustling for his meals and dodging fellow street rats to keep himself alive. The only thing that keeps him going are his dreams of owning his own ship as well as his one true love Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) who is similarly stuck running con games in the back alleys of this crap hole planet, but fortune soon finds its way to them as Han finds something JUST valuable enough to get them both a one way ticket off this planet and to a new life! The good news is he manages to escape, but the bad news is that Qi’ra gets caught JUST at the last second which means that Han has to get a jump start on that whole “getting a ship and making boat loads of cash” thing so that he can come back for Qi’ra and they can live happily ever after! Hm… but what’s the best way to GET a spaceship in an Empire controlled section of the galaxy? Oh hey! Aren’t they CONSTANTLY recruiting new red shirts to take bullets and fail to hit their targets! Sounds like a good way to at least take the first step to earning a livable wage and get the training he needs to survive on his own! From there things get complicated as Han is not what you’d call a MODEL solider, and ends up with a band of smugglers (Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, and Jon Favreau) as well as a new Wookie friend of his named Chewbacca (Joonas Suotama). Funny story how they met, but I won’t spoil it here! So now that he has a crew to run with (after deserting the Empire) and a way to FINALLY make all that sweet cash he needs, he can set his sights on going back to save Qi’ra from whatever fate has befallen her in the years that he’s been gone, right? Well not exactly as things are ALWAYS more complicated than they seem, which includes a SUPER gangster named Dryden (Paul Bettany) who has a bone to pick with this little band of misfits, the ultimate fate of Qi’ra which is VERY different from what Han had imagined, and even a slick hot shot named Lando (Donald Glover) who’s always one step ahead and laughing about it the whole time! Can Han survive in this world of backstabbers, sharpshooters, and expert gamblers long enough to get his own ship and start a life with the woman he loves? Just what did the smugglers do to Dryden, and what chances do they have of ACTUALLY making it right again? How the heck do you even play holo-chess anyway!?
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directed by Martin McDonagh
To tell you the truth, I never really liked In Bruges. It was fine I guess, but I never found it all that compelling and the ending is just a contrived mess that’s about as bad as sixty percent of the twists Shyamalan has come up with. And yet, there are a lot of people out there that like that movie as well as McDonagh’s other work, so naturally the buzz around this film was huge right off the bat which only grew once the trailers started coming out and we got to see some of Frances McDormand’s acting. At the very least, it manages to grab your attention with its unorthodox title (A COMMA!?) and even more unorthodox premise that will hopefully take advantage of the ideas that seem baked right into this material. Does this manage to live up to the hype that its beloved director and solid marketing campaign has built up for it, or will this end up a huge stumble for everyone involved? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) driving down the same road she’s driven down for years and years; heading home after a long day at work and trying hard to deal with the grief over her daughter’s death. Not just any death too! She was raped, murdered, and burnt to a crisp, so forgetting about that is proving to be a bit difficult, especially since the cops never found the guy who did it. That’s when Mildred comes up with an idea. On this road she’s traveled many times before are three billboards that no one has used in decades, so she decides to purchase the ad space and put up signs reminding the denizens of this small town that the police still haven’t caught the murderer. Now obviously this ruffles some feathers down at the station, particularly Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) who’s about as dumb and racist of a cop that you’d expect from a story like this and to a much lesser extent Sherriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) who’s leading the stalled investigation and is the primary target of Mildred’s ire. Things begin to get much more heated around town as several people begin to question (and stupidly try to attack) Mildred and her decision to put this spotlight on something that everyone would rather not think about and leave up to the cops. Mildred is having NONE of this and starts kicking ass and taking names at everyone who looks at her sideways which only escalates tensions further in this ticking time bomb of a standoff with her on one side and the rest of the world on the other. Will Mildred finally get justice for the death of her daughter whose killer roams free while the police do nothing? Just how far will Mildred go in order to get what she wants, and will she lose touch between what can and cannot be justified in her righteous quest? Just how much saltier will Frances McDormand get in this role before she wins that Oscar gold!?
The Glass Castle and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
Based… on a True Story. Ugh… is there any other phrase in the English language (other than Starring Jai Courtney) that sends a bigger chill down my spine? Trying to parse out which decisions a film makes that are due to the source material is not an easy task (especially when you don’t KNOW the true story to begin with) and it makes judging a movie with a well-rounded opinion THAT much harder to pull off since it works on different levels. Sure, ANY adaptation is gonna have some changes when going from one medium to another, but adapting something that ACTUALLY happened by its very nature practically begs to be judged on merits that are different from any other movie. So does this family drama manage to be enjoyable in its own right, or am I gonna have to read the book and do a whole bunch of research after the fact to TRULY understand what it’s going for? Let’s find out!!
The movie is an adaptation of Jeannette Wall’s memoir of the same name and we follow her as an adult (Brie Larson) as well as a child (Ella Anderson and Chandler Head); discovering how the latter is informing the former and learning about the pleasant as well as not so pleasant aspects of growing up with an abusive alcoholic father Rex (Woody Harrelson) with big ideas but too many personal demons to follow through on any of them. Along for the ride are her siblings Lori, Brian, and Bridgette (Sarah Snook, Olivia Kate Rice, Sadie Sink, Josh Caras, Iain Armitage, Charlie Stowell, Bridgette Lundy-Paine, Eden Grace Redfield, and Shree Crooks) as well as their mother Rose Mary (Naomi Watts) who all deal with their father in their own ways; though none of them come out of their life with him unscathed. Still, they all turned out well enough I guess, especially Jeannette who’s working for a big New York magazine and is engaged to a super-rich guy! Everything’s going great, right!? Well… maybe not, especially when Mom and Dad show up in New York and start squatting in an abandoned building. Will Jeannette be able to make peace with the way her father behaved when she was growing up? What exactly are her parents even doing in New York in the first place? Is Woody Harrelson able to NOT be likable, even when playing a total jerk!? Heck, he managed to stay at least SOMEWHAT charming in Natural Born Killers!
The Edge of Seventeen and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment
Directed by Kelly Fremon Craig
Oh hey! It’s our good ol’ friends at STX entertainment once again! They’ve only been around for just over a year now, yet they’ve responsible for five of the films I’ve had to review this year; all of which have been to surprisingly polarizing results with The Boy being one of the biggest surprises of the year and Free State of Jones turning out to be a major snooze fest. Still, they are sitting pretty after Bad Moms managed to rake in almost two hundred million dollars (and I get the feeling The Space Between Us is gonna make quite a few bucks as well), so they’re gonna stick around for some time; especially if their latest film manages to find a similar audience the way Bad Moms did. Does The Edge of Seventeen fill a niche for teenage moviegoers while also being a great film in its own right, or is this yet another lazy attempt to get the John Hughes formula to work one more time? Let’s find out!!
The movie is all about Nadine Byrd (Hailee Steinfeld) who’s life as a middle class white girl REALLY sucks as she’s at the point in her life where nothing makes sense and everyone seems to be against her; especially when that’s compounded by the tragic loss of her father a few years back which drove a wedge between her and her mother (Kyra Sedgwick) to this very day. Not only that, but she’s ALSO got to deal with her brother Darian (Blake Jenner) being so perfect at everything so she gets to compare her own lousy existence to a better one every single day. What could POSSIBLY make things worse!? Her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) sleeping with her brother? Okay, that will do it. Clearly Nadine is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and needs to find a way to become more comfortable with her own life and the ways in which it is changing; whether it’s by hanging out with a guy who TOTALLY loves her but she’s not all that into (Hayden Szeto) or working up the nerve to talk to the dude she’s been crushing on for quite some time now (Alexander Calvert). Will Nadine finally get her life on track after getting through this rough patch in her life? Will the hot bad boy who works in a pet shop FINALLY notice her? Maybe her teacher (Woody Harelson) can help sort this all out for her.
Now You See Me 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Summit Entertainment
Directed by Jon M Chu
I didn’t HATE the first movie, but I wasn’t really a fan of it. While the magic performances as well as that one Dave Franco action scene were a lot of fun, the glue holding everything together was far from compelling and the twist at the end was MONUMENTALLY stupid; not just because it’s… well stupid, but also because of how it completely poisons the idea of repeat viewings as its one of those twists that unravels everything we saw and robs the story of any sort of tension. That said I wasn’t opposed to the idea of a sequel, especially once it was revealed that they got Daniel Radcliffe to be in it! Sure, the twist at the end of the first one kinda ruins THAT movie, but maybe they’ll build off of this one in an interesting and novel way! Does this manage to continue the trend of sequels this year being better than the original, or is this movie trying to pull a fast one on all of us? Let’s find out!! Oh, and we’ll be going into spoilers for the last film, so just a heads up.
After the events of the last movie where the Four Horsemen who are composed of Danny (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt (Woody Harrelson), Jack (Dave Franco), and Henley (Isla Fisher, or Sir Not Appearing In This Film) fulfilled the mission given to them by The Eye, they are now members of the secret organization under the watchful… well EYE, of Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) who was the FBI agent chasing them throughout the first one; the big twist of that film being that he was in on it the entire time! MAGIC SHOCK! So after robbing Insurance Mogul Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) of his fortune and getting Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) to take the fall for it, the Horsemen have spent the last year in hiding; waiting around for a sequel… I mean mission, from The Eye. Henley gave up after a while and went off to do her own thing (what exactly that is, I’m not sure considering she’s still wanted… I think) and Daniel is about to do the same if they aren’t given something to do, or at least get a chance to MEET this organization they’re supposedly working for with their only connection to them being Agent Rhodes. The day FINALLY comes though as they get a new member Lula (Lizzy Caplan) to join The Horsemen and they plan to crash a part announcing the release of the next iPhone knockoff which supposedly has a chip in it that will steal ALL the users’ data so they can sell it. I don’t know why this is a job for The Horsemen considering that shit would get discovered and jailbroken within fifteen minutes of its release, but whatever. The plan doesn’t go as… well planned, as their party crashing is interrupted by ANOTHER party crasher who reveals that Jack is STILL alive (he was presumed dead after the events of the last film) and that Agent Rhodes is actually working with them! Not only that, but during The Horsemen’s escape, they somehow find themselves ALL the way in China where some sniveling jackass named Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) reveals that he’s the one behind all of this and will get The Horsemen out of trouble (apparently he can do that) if they do a heist for him. While all this is going on, Agent Rhodes is still in the US trying to evade law enforcement and is trying to piece everything together as to whom else could have been in on this plot against them, and his focus invariably shifts right to Thaddeus Bradley who is loving every moment of this. Will The Horsemen be able to steal what Walter wants them to, and can he be trusted to keep up his end of the bargain? How exactly will Agent Rhodes manage to get the truth out of Thaddeus about his involvement in all of this, and does this have anything to do with his past? Look over there! Now here! Was THIS your card!?
Triple 9 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Open Road Films
Directed by John Hillcoat
I had not even heard of this movie until I saw a poster for it at the theater. Hell, I don’t even think I saw a trailer for it before the movie came out! That seems kind of odd considering some of the actors they have in here such as Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, and Kate Winslet. Then again, the movie also has Casey Affleck, Aaron Paul, and Clifton Collins Jr, so maybe it’s not so much an under the radar hit and more of a lower tier movie that happened to luck out in the casting department. Still, with so little to go on as to what this movie was about, it definitely had the chance to surprise me and offer something unexpected. Is this a hidden gem that got sprung on us just as we were leaving February, or is this the just one more subpar mess that we have to deal with before ending one of the worst months for movies? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows way too many characters, but I’ll try to make it as clear as possible (definitely clearer than the movie makes it). You’ve got the leader Michael (Chiwetel Ejifor), the fuck up Gabe (Aaron Paul), the fuck up’s brother Russell (Norman Reedus), the bad cop Marcus (Anthony Mackie) and the even worse cop Franco (Clifton Collins Jr) who make up a team of five criminals that pull of heists I guess. In fact, the movie starts right as they begin their latest scheme which is to knock over a bank looking for something specific for their employers who I believe are Israeli mobsters led by Irina (Kate Winslet). Now the Israeli mobsters need this crew to pull of another job, but the job is neigh impossible in the time they would normally have to do it (three minutes before the cops come). Their plan is to cause a Triple 9 which is the nickname for killing a cop (radio code 999) at which point all the police in the city (the ENTIRE city) will converge on that location, and it JUST SO HAPPENS that Marcus has a new partner in the form of Chris (Casey Affleck) who would be perfect to kill because… reasons. Why would someone kill a cop that is so directly tied to them? Anyway, what the bad guys here aren’t aware of (or aren’t all the concerned about) is Chris’s uncle Jeffrey (Woody Harrelson) who’s investigating the bank robbery and is starting to pick up some clues. Not only that, but things begin to deteriorate between the bad guys and after something PARTICULARLY heinous happens to them, the fuck up starts to… well, fuck up. There’s also a subplot about a Mexican gang causing trouble in the city, something about Chiwetel Ejiofor’s son, and then Gal Gadot shows up a couple times to remind us that she can act even if Batman v Superman turns out to be a giant bomb. Can these guys pull off the heist without killing each other or getting themselves killed first? Will Casey Affleck survive to the end of the movie? Can someone get me flow chart for all this? I’m already confused…