Spiders on the Silver Screen: Venom and Into the Spider-Verse

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Venom

Rating: 8/10

Tom Hardy’s performance is so powerful in Sony’s Venom that it almost makes you overlook the other half of Eddie Brock (Hardy), the much anticipated, and animated Venom. Hardy’s performance is almost too good! At times it is tough for his character to blend in with the storyline that is running ahead of him.

Moreover, you can tell that Director Ruben Fleischer is meant to work on the film if we reference his previous work with Zombieland (1 and 2), the Gangster Squad. Fleischer takes the film to a different level which I am still uncertain if I really like. Venom is one of the tougher Marvel comics to present on the big screen—Portraying the corky/laid-back (Wait. Deadpool, is that you?) journalist and an alien that acts like He’s from a horror movie housed on the same body –in somewhat of harmony— is tough business. 

Venom is definitely different (and better) than your typical superhero action movie. The movie could pass as an intense thriller with numerous slapstick scenes here and there, which resembles Fleischer’s work as a director. Overall, it is a uniquely (take the word as you wish) directed film with an excellent performance from Hardy. I would not have given Venom such a high rating if it wasn’t for the actor’s performance.

 

 

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Rating: 7/10

The production quality of the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse screams so much more than the movie itself. The visuals are vibrant, captivating, and different in such a good way. Hats off to the animators for showing us guys the comic world through a new set of lenses—What an experience!

The representation of Miles Morales’ ethnicity is genuine and real—The choices of the soundtrack, the family dynamic and the conversations in between the characters deeply represents the world of this new teenager we are all meeting for the first time on screen. There are so many ‘yes!’ moments in the movie: Clever monologues, the representation of Peter Parker as a role model (anyone else notice the difference to the Comic Code?), an appearance of Stan Lee, and the overall message: “Anyone can be Spider-Man”. Beautiful… groundbreaking. I love it.

Why didn’t it get a 10/10 rating from me? I think featuring all the other Spider Marvel characters took the spotlight away from Miles Morales. Yes, MCU—Now that you introduced them, you have material to produce. But, could I have had some more quality screen time with Miles? Yes.

December 2017 on the Silver Screen

Without further adieu, let’s dig down to the productions of December.

Thor: Ragnarok

Score: 3/5

I’ll be completely honest, I walked into the theatre with very low expectations for this movie, but it surprised me. I have had the same behavior for every Marvel production since the remake of Spider Man (Homecoming), which was a huge disappointment for me by the way. I do not know what is it that keeps us coming with the Marvel movies. Although I have borderline hated the last few, and they failed to keep me engaged through the whole thing, I keep supporting these productions by simply purchasing tickets to see them (e.g. Wonder Woman, I actually felt bored by the end of it).

Thor had been in my top three for the Marvel superheroes, so I did not dare ignore Ragnarok. The storyline somewhat made me wonder why the developers could not come up with something better than an evil sister, however, the way they placed it into context was clever (Spoiler: Odin has many successes with the evil sister but decides killing is not the right way to achieve power. As a result, Odin erases the past. Crucial Scene: The ceiling breaks apart, revealing the history of these events).

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I did not necessarily follow the change in development and production of Marvel series, however, I assume some significant changes of the stories are influenced by the Disney take over of the studios. The first Thor movie was much heavier on drama, religious references, and especially romance. Referencing Thor: Ragnarok, there are no aspects of romance (Jane is completely out of the storyline nonetheless they only mention her name once), much more inclusive racial characters as implanted in every Disney production, and most importantly, humor. There is much more humor than the amount needed in an action movie. Yes, all Marvel heroes are charismatic and at times too confident or cocky, but their humorous character is not their ‘most important’ trait. Iron Man was known with his sarcasm through the movies, thank you Robert Downey Jr. Deadpool’s previous lifetime experiences simply reflect on his personality as a hero, and we are used to him being the way he is. In my opinion, simply implementing more humour into Thor or any other character all of a sudden, sheds light on their powerfulness. The viewer needs just the right amount. In my opinion, it has been overdone in the last few movies.

As a side note, the soundtrack was delightful and produced a different reality for the action scenes. It almost felt like the power to demolish the enemy came from the song, and it was much like playing the last round of a strategy video game. I have been jamming to Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song after seeing the movie.

Overall, Thor: Ragnarok had a lot less emphasis on the drama aspect that may not be compelling to all audience members, and put forth the humor aspect to reach more. That does not bother me if the storyline meets my expectations of quality and I do not expect that from the latest Marvel productions. Marvel needs to do a lot more than ‘the appearance of evil sister’ to get there, however, Thor: Ragnarok kept me engaged the whole time compared to the numerous poorly constructed scenes of Spider Man: Homecoming, Wonder Woman and sequal to the Avengers. Disney needs to forget about the mere goal of producing as many movies as possible in a year, and aim for better storyline production. Well, I say let’s give Disney a couple more years to familiarize themselves with the super hero world.

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Coco

Score: 5/5

Although Disney fails in the super hero world, I need to give the team their credit on how successful they have been with producing diversity in animation and cartoon. The Princess and the frog, Moana and Elena, all introduced the children of all ages about the skin colors and somewhat took a step beyond breaking the image of white superiority. In essence, this approach seems to work for Disney’s profit, however, it is fairly risky too. It might offend cultures if representation has twitches, and mostly, all are westernized. In Coco, too, the western idea of ‘being yourself’ is highly emphasized, and this may not dare be presented in a collectivist culture like those who are Mexicans.

I loved everything about this production, so first of all, hats off! The main theme was being yourself with sprinkles of appreciating roots, importance of family, and remembering loved ones as the theme song “Remember Me” suggests. The storyline is excellent, and the plot twist at the end shakes the audience all over. I bet all the children in the theatre were as compelled as I was, and I was hysterically sobbing before I left the theatre. Coco gives the audience the hope that we all will meet those whom we lost one day, it reminds us the idea of ‘the waiting room’ that many religions adopt, and the waiting room provides space to watch the loved ones from above as dead relatives wait to get to heaven or hell.

As the story highlights, it is very easy to resonate with ‘the day of the dead’ celebrated yearly. It is based on the same idea that if one’s on earth forget the one’s whom are gone, they fade away. Prayers or the day of the dead are important to implement in our lives, reminiscing memories are equivalent to keeping these people alive in memories. Finally, although it may not always be true, family are bound to support each other.

There was so much to love about Coco. Extraordinary visuals. I will say this that Coco is by far the best visual work that Pixar produced. As I watched Miguel enter the world of the dead, I was astonished by millions of lights that are on literally every single inch-pixel of the screen. Amazing. You can just go and watch this movie for its visuals, but the story line is a bonus! Sit back and enjoy as the beautiful Mexican music sings to your heart.

 

Daddy’s Home 2

Score: 1/5

Will Ferrell in a Christmas movie sounds like a good idea at first but all of us that went to the movie, we, have all been fooled. Newer Christmas movies barely make it in the film market and that is because they focus on the slapstick comedy of it where we watch the main person get his ass kicked or hurt himself. There are some slapstick comedies with clever jokes however, here’s the truth: Dear Mr. Ferrell, Elf was your climax, why not end it there gracefully?

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I do understand this movie is a sequal to the story of two-daddies trying to balance the family relationship out. Four-daddies with no stories, was pushing it. Although I appreciated Mel Gibson’s appearance as a tough-guy who dominates the screen through the movie, it is a mystery why he would even consider playing in Daddy’s Home 2.

I am not sorry for being harsh; This movie deserves way worse. It was a waste of my time, and there are far better comedies on Netflix to get a good laugh.

The Greatest Showman

Score 4/5

Compelling. Musical production on the silver screen is hard work. It is much harder than a production on stage. Stage allows the artists to establish extraordinary connection. The trembling in the artists voice, every breath they take, the dream of the ovation that helps them hit the highest notes. Despite everything that could make me hate this movie, I adored it. There was a standing ovation in my local theatre, as it ended with the graceful quote of P.T. Barnum:

“The noblest art is that of making others happy”.

DF-07341_R.JPGLet me set out my criteria: I am not a huge fan of circus-themed musicals. I expect some dialogue to understand each character, and I do not like it when the producers force a boring musical on my face. The Greatest Showman was both dark and bright, and one reason it is not getting a full point from me is because I could not get enough of it.

There is not a movie that I did not appreciate when Hugh Jackman is in it. He might not have an astonishing musical career; however, he sure does an amazing job delivering the character’s voice. Michelle Williams gracefully accompanies him where the audience witnesses their love story from day one. Again, romance was not overdone. Conflict was not overdone. I could say everything was right about this musical for me. However, it is important to note that many critiques claim the storyline lacked accuracy when portraying Barnum’s life. This will happen either way they portray Barnum because there is much conflict in his own autobiography.

The visuals, performers and the script didn’t have much to complain about for me. I would’ve liked songs that appealed more to the style of 1870s. The attempt to modernize the theme, and musical choices only worked for the sake of Hugh Jackman, and his compelling performance. Give the developers one more year of research and song-writing, this movie would have gotten a 5/5.

I’ll say this; It was an original production and it did a hell of a good job delivering as if I were in Broadway. The Greatest Showman is a must-see.