The Post (2017): Streep and Hanks Spread the News and Define History in This Spielberg Flick

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is time for the third installment of this ongoing Steven Spielberg Month, where I will be reviewing four of the many movies Spielberg has created over the span of his career. Spielberg has created films with action like “Raiders of the Ark” and “Minority Report,” but today, we are doing a reverse Elvis Presley. A little less action, a little more conversation. That is because we are tackling one of Spielberg’s most recent outings, “The Post.” Nominated for two Oscars, this film was met with acclaim. Let us hope that the Movie Reviewing Moron will have something to say to add to this film’s endless stream of positivity. Here we go.

“The Post” is directed by Steven Spielberg (Lincoln, The BFG) and stars Meryl Streep (The Giver, The Iron Lady), Tom Hanks (Toy Story, Cast Away), Sarah Paulson (Studio 60 on Sunset Strip, Game Change), Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad, Nebraska), Tracy Letts (Lady Bird, Wiener-Dog), Bradley Whitford (The West Wing, The Handmaid’s Tale), Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek, Young Justice), and Matthew Rhys (Brothers & Sisters, The Americans). This film is about the first woman newspaper publisher and her editor as they uncover a history changing revelation that had been hidden for four presidencies.

I started Scene Before in 2016. Therefore, I have reviewed a lot of movies since then. Despite seeing previews, I have never gotten around to reviewing, or even watching, “The Post.” The film had a lot of potential from one of the most acclaimed actors and one of the most acclaimed actresses coming together to lead the picture. In addition, Steven Spielberg is behind the camera. Despite the potential, I skipped this film. I was excited to finally give it a watch at home since I had a used copy of the 4K Blu-ray on standby. Physical media forever.

Safe to say, the film is quite good. Streep and Hanks, unsurprisingly, make for a marvelous on-screen pair as Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee respectively. Cast members who are not quite at the level of top billing like Jesse Plemons and Will Denton also have moments to shine as well. Steven Spielberg delivers another win for his career on top of his many others. The screenplay, which was written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer is undoubtedly compelling. I should not be surprised that the screenplay is as solid as it is, as Singer has previous experience in writing excellent journalism-centered storytelling. In addition to “The Post,” Singer also wrote “Spotlight,” for which he won two Academy Awards, specifically Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture. Having seen that film, I am not terribly shocked. I am also not terribly shocked that not long after those wins, Singer would once again utilize his creativity to effectively craft “The Post.”

Despite being a serious movie, it flies by. Honestly, despite being a couple hours, it felt like an hour and a half at times. It is that good. Pacing-wise, this is one of the better movies I have seen recently. Kind of like “The Post,” “Spotlight” came out as another one of these awards season darlings. I think both movies are equal in terms of entertainment value, a term I use lightly given both of these movies’ subject matters. Although as for which one I like better, I think it depends on where you look. “The Post” feels a bit more theatrical than “Spotlight.” Therefore, when it comes to technicality, that is one aspect where this movie dazzles. The costumes are rugged and transportive enough to make me feel like I am traveling back in time. A lot of the locations look extravagant and beautiful. To add to the antique touch, this movie was entirely shot on film, whereas “Spotlight” used the digital Arri Alexa XT.

Steven Spielberg is no stranger to starting off his movies with a compelling hook.

No pun intended.

In “Jaws,” you have the intro with the infamous music that continues to build whenever the shark is present. After that, you have that scene on the beach where the shark bites a girl in the water. Total intrigue. In “Jurassic Park,” the opening scene between the humans and the dinosaur shows off the menacing vibe these creatures can deliver. In “The Post,” we start off with soldiers fighting in Vietnam. I was not alive during the Vietnam War. In regards to history, I was still a baby when 9-11 happened. Although based on what I have learned in school, I know enough about the Vietnam War to recognize how significant and unfortunate it is from a U.S. perspective. I thought starting off here provided for an effective reminder of not only what the Vietnam War put a militaristic group through, but also what it did to the people of the country they were tasked with defending and honoring.

Now, this is not an action movie, it is not a war movie. War and politics are two defining traits within the story, but if you are looking for a war film in 2017, “Dunkirk” is probably your friend. That said, this one glimpse of action during the Vietnam War set the stage for what was to come. It took something so big to make something much smaller in scale appear more attractive.

This film dazzles from a technical perspective. Again, the costumes and locations look stunning. Speaking of stunning, the intricacies that go into how this movie was made are mind-boggling. The camerawork in this film occasionally felt so immersive that it highlighted some of the best direction of the year. The movie has a few long takes that felt perfectly planned and put me right in the room. There was a scene where I felt as if I was walking around the office of The Washington Post. It is like if Google Maps Street View theatrically transformed itself. Janusz Kaminski, a longtime collaborator with Steven Spielberg, worked on the cinematography for this film. While it was not nominated for an Academy Award, I think it is some of the finest of 2017 alongside Roger Deakins’s work in “Blade Runner 2049” and Hoyte van Hoytema’s craft in “Dunkirk.”

I often try to avoid politics on Scene Before. However, this is one of those cases where it must come into play. I say so because one of the notable aspects of “The Post” was its time of release. This film came out around the tail end of 2017, when Donald Trump was President of the United States. “The Post” almost comes as a tell as to whether history could repeat itself, because this movie reveals a lack of trust or full connection between the news and the government. At the same time, Donald Trump would consistently sideline or mock various news outlets and pick his favorites. This is an action he would continue to do even by the time he left office. If I saw this movie years ago, I would probably leave the theater thinking it is a relevant title and connect it to the importance of the 1st Amendment. This film has an ending that profiles such a thing beautifully.

Speaking of U.S. Presidents, Richard Nixon makes an appearance in this movie. There is a scene towards the end of the movie where we see a suited Nixon. We never see his face, it is almost like looking at The Banker from “Deal or No Deal” at times. Since this movie is based on true events, one touch that I thought was nice was the use of Nixon’s actual voice . The addition of Nixon’s real voice illustrated a specific scene’s point and perhaps delivered an emotional attachment that I would not have felt otherwise. Curzon Dobell is barely in the movie as Richard Nixon, but for the short time he is in it, he makes the performance a standout.

The story feels kind of Hollywoodized and some of the supporting characters do not stand out as much as others, but the film overall is worth a watch. The only other critique I can come up with is that this is one of John Williams’s lesser scores. The man is a genius, and his music during the movie works. But when it comes to his library, this is a score I am not going to remember as much as others.

In the end, “The Post” is a stellar look at how the United States changed journalism, and in turn, how journalism changed the United States. There is no surprise that a film like this could work. Coincidental or not, the timing of this story could not have been better. You have Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and Steven Spielberg working together. On paper, this sounds like an absolute win. In execution, it is an absolute win. In other news, water is wet. While “Spotlight” may be a slightly better journalism-centered story, “The Post” is another example of how well journalism can be used as the centerpiece of a cinematic experience when given the right tools and context. If Josh Singer wants to do another movie about journalism I am there on day one. I think he is one of the best screenwriters working today. His work on the film with then newbie Liz Hannah, who would go on to co-write the funny political comedy, “Long Shot,” is superb. I am going to give “The Post” an 8/10.

Speaking of history, one thing I love about Steven Spielberg is his ability to successfully manage a couple feature-length directorial efforts in such short time. In 1993 he released both “Jurassic Park” and “Schindler’s List” within months of each other. Before making “The Post,” Spielberg directed one of my favorite films from him, “Ready Player One,” and he ended up shooting “The Post” while “Ready Player One” was in post-production. “Ready Player One” ended up coming out after “The Post,” but it goes to show that Spielberg is committed to his craft. When one door closes, another one opens. Sometimes he opens the other door back up after a while. There is a reason why I am doing a Steven Spielberg Month, and this is one of them. He is one of the best minds in the film industry today.

“The Post” is now available to rent or buy on VOD and is also available on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Blu-ray.

Thanks for reading this review! My next and final installment to Steven Spielberg Month is coming next Friday, October 28th, and it will be a review for Spielberg’s latest movie to have a wide release, “West Side Story!” I have seen the film twice and will watch it once more for review purposes. I am excited to finally talk about this movie given how I did see it in December 2021, but due to time constraints, I never got around to reviewing it. If you want to see my other reviews through Steven Spielberg Month, check out my thoughts on “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Post?” What did you think about it? Or, did you see “Spotlight?” Tell me your thoughts on that movie! Do you like “The Post” or “Spotlight” more? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021): Sony and Marvel’s Thrilling, Emotional Love Letter to Three Generations of the Webhead *SPOILER-FREE*

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) - IMDb

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is directed by Jon Watts, who also directed the previous two MCU-set “Spider-Man” installments, which also have home in the title. I’m assuming if they make a fourth movie, it’s gonna be called “Grand Slam?” You know, instead of home run? Four?

Anybody?

Who cares?

Anyway, this film stars Tom Holland (Cherry, Onward), Zendaya (Space Jam: A New Legacy, Dune), Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek: Into Darkness, Sherlock), Jacob Batalon (Blood Fest, Let it Snow) Jon Favreau (Chef, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Jamie Foxx (Soul, Ray), Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse, Aquaman), Alfred Molina (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time), Benedict Wong (Annihilation, Raya and the Last Dragon), Tony Revolori (Dope, The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Marisa Tomei (Parental Guidance, Anger Management). This film revolves around Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man, who has to deal with the newfound dangers that lie ahead now that his identity has been revealed, in addition to being connected to the recent event of Mysterio’s drone swarm in London, which has been interpreted differently by the general public. When Peter seeks Dr. Strange’s help to make everyone forget he was Spider-Man, the spell to make such a thing happen goes wrong, villains from other universes arrive, and it is up to Peter to do the right thing before the dangers of one universe then become the dangers of another.

Alright guys, it is that time again. A big movie in December. Although this time around, it’s not in the “Star Wars” franchise. Still huge. That being said, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the biggest movie of the year. I should note the box office suggests that this film is enormous, but there are still people who have not seen the film. I know at least a couple. With that being said, I will note that this review is spoiler-free. I am going to talk about certain points in the film that stand out, but I’m not going to go into deeper plot points. If you have not seen this movie and plan to see it, I can tell you that this review is safe to read.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is a follow-up to “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” I have to say that when it comes to the first film, it is slightly more enjoyable than I remember it being. But given Spider-Man’s excellent writing in “Captain America: Civil War,” the writing for that film felt like a step down. I really liked Vulture. Peter’s chemistry with Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) was charming. I even liked Liz in that film. I still think the film has logic issues when it comes to how Peter’s suit works and how Tony Stark would want it to work, but the film is still decent enough to pass the time. When it comes to “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” that film felt like a step up. Jake Gyllenhaal did a great job as Mysterio. I liked Ned a bit better this time around compared to the original. Plus it was nice to see Spider-Man somewhere other than New York for a change. Plus, the end of the film promised a fantastic setup for what would ultimately become “No Way Home.”

When it comes to “No Way Home,” is it a thumbs up or a thumbs down?

I think neither. I’d say TWO thumbs up.

Now, like almost everyone else, I should note that my anticipation and my excitement for “No Way Home” was high. Not as much as “Dune,” but still high. But I was also nervous. Because the film promised massive multiversal shenanigans, which sounds great. I should note… It SOUNDS great. During the fall as we built up to this film’s release, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in my mind sounded like it could be one of two things. It’s either going to be the best movie ever, or the worst movie ever, and nowhere in between. In crossover-speak, is it going to be the next “Infinity War?” Or is it going to be the next “Space Jam: A New Legacy?” God that movie was awful. Thankfully, upon leaving the theater, I can confirm that I felt excited to go see the movie again in less than 24 hours, and my mind literally melted on the way home from how exciting this movie was to watch.

This film has a ton of villains ranging from Doc Ock to Electro, but it’s not like they’re just there for nostalgia purposes. Granted, at the end of the day, this film is sort of a tribute to the Spider-Man character and all the stories that came before this one. Anyone can put in a ton of cool characters and have them fight against Spider-Man. Heck, this movie could be Spider-Man vs. Godzilla vs. Agent Smith vs. Ron Burgundy, but it does not guarantee a good movie. It’s a basic case of concept vs. reality. The concept is great, but the reality could suck. But here’s the truth about all these villains…

Jamie Foxx’s Electro was written ten times better than he was written in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Now, I will admit, they did kind of highlight a specific aspect about him from that film, specifically how Max was a nobody, which I thought had some okay setup before he was affected by a bunch of eels. But as we see him enter this universe, I could really tell that he was confused, he was concerned, and had no idea what was going on. They’ve even given him a new costume, which may be for story purposes, sure, but of course, who doesn’t want to sell more toys? Why do you think they gave 3PO a red arm in “The Force Awakens?”

My favorite villain of Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films was always Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock. I feel like even though his character was truly at the end of the day, an evil mastermind, he also had a heart. He went through tragedy the same way Peter did in those movies when he lost Uncle Ben. Only in the case of Doc Ock, he used his tragedy for evil, partially for a reason beyond his control. Even though he terrorized New York City, I feel bad for him, looking back. Plus, his arms are among some of the best practical effects ever. As for how he’s handled in this movie, I like the way they went about exploring his character’s newfound questions. After all, when you enter another universe, everything feels completely strange. Although when they first introduced him, they had a potential plot hole that could have affected how I viewed the entire movie that was corrected about ten to twenty minutes later. Glad they touched up on that. In this film, instead of his arms being practical, they were CGI, and I honestly could barely tell the difference. They did a really good job at making Doc Ock fit into a universe like this, even though it’s really the same character as another one.

But if you’re going to ask me who I think gives the single greatest performance out of all the film’s villains, I think that would have to be Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. Now I always sensed that Dafoe enjoyed playing the character of Norman Osborn and being a part of the “Spider-Man” franchise. Even after his character died in “Spider-Man” (2002) he came back for the sequels, and there’s also a bonus feature where Alfred Molina is pranked by Dafoe, wearing the Doc Ock tentacles, trying to motivate Molina to give the greatest performance possible. Part of this movie centers around Osborn struggling with his inner self, which is not new for him, and I feel like we get so many layers to his character. We see his bewilderment of the world around him. We see him conflict over power and normalcy, and I think his dark side is more evident than ever. Whenever he does something truly horrific in this film, not only is it well written, I think it may deliver the best performance I have seen out of a Spider-Man villain in a long. Long. Long. Long time. I really liked the Green Goblin in the 2002 “Spider-Man” movie. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” arguably made him even better.

Now I will say that there are a couple other villains in this film, including Sandman and Lizard. Of the film’s villains, those two were the weakest, but they were still better than a lot of the villains we get in the MCU nowadays. I say that because a lot of the films in the MCU sometimes fail to heighten the villain and instead we get a cliche bad guy who just stands in the hero’s way. These are two are better than Ronan in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” And they’re especially better than Malekith in “Thor: The Dark World.” These two have some occasional funny lines, and I like Lizard’s reference to his master plan which Electro ended up making fun of. It’s not like they did not need to be in the movie, the movie is definitely cool with them and they do not end up doing anything offensive. But of all the villains in the film, Sandman and Lizard are the weakest links because they have the least depth. We get more time with Doc Ock and Goblin, therefore we have more opportunities to see depth for them, but for Sandman and Lizard, not so much.

But of course, this film belongs to the heroes. Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Ned, and MJ.

All of these actors who play the heroes are great and I think when it comes to Ned (center) in this movie, he’s kind of a bundle of joy. When I saw Ned for the first time in “Homecoming,” I thought he was annoying. I kind of grown to like him in that movie a little bit, because I kind of get the enthusiasm behind finding out your best friend is Spider-Man, but I think of these three movies, he had the worst writing because his questions can get excessive. To me, the writing in this film made the most sense of the three, although his storyline in “Far from Home” was hilarious. It’s one way to write teen love I guess. Although if I have one thing to say, it’s not a huge complaint, but it is something worth pointing out, something happens with Ned in this movie that is out of random chance. It was never something that was established that he could do, or something he learned. It just happened. I mean, if you watched the movie, they “teased” it a little, but kind of as a joke, nothing more. I guess foreshadowing is foreshadowing, even if it’s a throwaway joke.

Zendaya’s MJ is another character that to me evolved with time. In the first film, she felt overly snarky. In the second film, I got to know her a little better and I began to appreciate her as a character just a bit more. In this third film, we see her with Spider-Man from the start, and I think their chemistry has blossomed into something special. It is worth noting that all three live-action Spider-Men from Tobey Maguire to Andrew Garfield to Tom Holland all dated their character-based love interests at one point in real life. Maybe that’s why their chemistry all feels natural. There was a scene on a school rooftop, it’s in the trailer, that stood out to me as to why Holland and Zendaya work together. Although I was a bit surprised to see MJ reading a physical newspaper as opposed to some article on her phone. I dunno, just a stereotypical generational thing.

Doctor Strange is in this film as well, and judging by the trailers, his performance at first felt a little different from his previous outings in the MCU. Having seen the movie, and having remembered some of the other movies he’s been in, it actually feels somewhat consistent. Maybe it feels different because he’s communicating with teenagers, which may not be his forte. I may be making excuses, but I think if you’re an adult, you may have a way of communicating with teenagers in a slightly different tone than you would with your spouse or your boss. You know, unless your employer works at “LitDonald’s!” Keep it 100 with our Big Lit! Sauce me some of those yeet fries! Enjoy the LitRib for a limited time! Although when it comes to consistency, there is a one-liner out of Strange about birthday parties that feels wonderfully similar in tone to this exchange in “Infinity War.”

Dr. Stephen Strange: If we don’t do our jobs…

Tony Stark: What is your job, exactly, besides making balloon animals?

Dr. Stephen Strange: Protecting your reality, douchebag.

But of course, we need to talk about Tom Holland. Spider-Man stories have shown a balance between a hero struggling to maintain his friendships, his identity, while also trying to save the world. In the case of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” this balance is handled brilliantly. The film starts off right where the last one ended, and right off the bat we already see Spider-Man protecting what he has left of his identity, his love interest, and the people he knows. We already start off the movie with one of the worst possible things that could have happened to Peter Parker, and that’s just the beginning. We see him deal with controversy in school. Parker’s trying to find a lawyer. The people he loves are being hurt for reasons beyond their control. As we go through Spider-Man’s journey, the tragedy only builds up. And this is what makes Spider-Man a hero. When he goes to Doctor Strange to make everyone forget he’s Spider-Man, he’s not just looking out for himself, he’s looking out for the people around him. His friends, family, colleagues. There’s a subplot in the film where the trio are trying to get into college and that is only made harder through their connections to the battle in London.

I expected this film to be exciting. I expected this film to be fun. But part of me was not ready for how much emotion this movie packs. Now I figured there would be at least one emotional moment because it is the third film of a trilogy and that’s where certain ends are tied up for good and that sort of thing. This film has multiple powerful scenes and happenings that bring a balance between the expected excitement and the emotional weight. Tom Holland in this film honestly delivers one of the best performances of his career because of this. I don’t think he’ll be nominated for an Oscar, but by the end of the film, there’s a particular arc that is perfectly assembled and you don’t even need words for it. Just the expressions on his face alone make the scene perfect. You may know what I’m talking about when it comes around.

Although I do want to talk about one thing when it comes to the emotion. This is a spoiler-free review, so I will not go into detail. But the ending of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” despite its instant feeling of satisfaction, induction of a smile, and solid conclusiveness to certain characters, probably would have been made better if Peter did one thing to possibly prevent another thing from happening. If I did a spoiler review, I would expand on it. But again, I cannot. The point of me making this review is not to discuss every single plot point and detail. It is to convince my viewers as to whether they could make a formal decision on whether “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is worth seeing. I recommend you do, I think this is easily one of best “Spider-Man” films ever made. But I want my viewers to go into this film knowing as little as possible, but with enough details as to what I like, didn’t like, and maybe that will help them know whether or not this movie is for them. I would not instantly recommend this movie to my mom (although I would recommend Shang-Chi), but I do recommend a lot of you reading this should go check out “No Way Home” on the biggest screen you can.

I will also point out that this is Jon Watts’s third film in this trilogy, making him the first director to direct a complete trilogy in the MCU. Jon Favreau directed two installments for “Iron Man,” but Shane Black did the third. Joss Whedon did the first two “Avengers” films, but the next two ended up going to the Russo Brothers. When it comes to all three movies, they are solid. But the directing in these films do not really give him much of a chance to individualize himself. And as for this movie, I think Willem Dafoe’s face reveal, as exciting as it was, could have been handled slightly better. It was still exciting, but it was very quick. Although I think if you take into account the end of the film and the performances from just about everyone, this may be the best-directed film in the franchise. Everyone felt true to their characters and when came to Peter’s emotions, Watts likely knew exactly how to touch base with Tom Holland. I think after seeing this film, I am curious to see if there are any specific quirks Watts develops, but I nevertheless think he will do a good job with “Fantastic 4,” whenever that comes out.

One last thing before we move on, J.K. Simmons is back as J. Jonah Jameson. You saw the little snippet of him in the previous film, but now we have him here and the way they utilize him is perfect. For this modern era, his placement in the universe makes sense. He’s basically Alex Jones if he was trying to find a cure for his balding. After seeing this film, I am convinced that nobody else aside from J.K. Simmons can play J. Jonah Jameson. Debate over.

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

In the end, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the best film in the Jon Watts trilogy. It’s a triumph for Tom Holland. It’s at the end of the day, a love letter to the character. My favorite “Spider-Man” movie is “Spider-Man 2,” and right below that would have to be this one. It’s that good. The movie has its flaws, but no movie’s perfect. I think the best part about “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is that it doesn’t just use all these previous characters and actors just for the sake of marketing. Granted, it definitely helps. But each villain had at minimum, the slightest of reason to be there. Even Sandman and Lizard. The first two “Spider-Man” films in the MCU happen to be about teenage Spider-Man dealing with teenage situations from crushes to school dances. This film, in my imagination, is literally Spider-Man attempting to push back a giant boulder of inconveniences and tragedies. And by the end of the film, I felt enough of its weight to make me care for everyone. If you like “Spider-Man,” you will love this movie. I don’t know if you will like it more depending on whether you have seen the other villains before, but that’s another debate for another time. Please check this film out, take your friends, take your family, take everyone. It’s best experienced with an audience, and there are some are some epic potential applause break moments depending on when and where you see this film. I’m going to give “Spider-Man: No Way Home” a 9/10.

To me, this kind of reminds me of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…” because despite the glaring issues that such a movie has, I ended up giving it a 9/10. The reason for that is because those issues barely get in the way of all the other crazy sequences and crowd-pleasers of this film. The fan part of me wants to give a perfect score, but again, there’s some issues that keep that from happening. There’s the fan side of me and the critic side of me. Today, I have to be the critic. The film is an experience that I want erased from my memory in order to go back and witness again. For those reasons alone, I highly recommend you go watch this film in a theater. But reserve your tickets in advance, you’re gonna want the best seats.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! I want to let you guys know that I have more reviews coming up including one for “King Richard.” Stay tuned for that! If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Spider-Man: No Way Home?” What did you think about it? Or, which Jon Watts-directed “Spider-Man” movie is your favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021): The Lethal Protector and the Big Red One Slash Up a Great Time

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is directed by Andy Serkis (Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, Black Panther) and stars Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road), Woody Harrelson (The Edge of Seventeen, Zombieland), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea, Blue Valentine), Naomie Harris (Spectre, Moonlight), Reid Scott (My Boys, Veep), Stephen Graham (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Boardwalk Empire), and Peggy Lu (Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, Always Be My Maybe). This film is the second installment to the “Venom” franchise, based on the Marvel Comics character. This time around, Eddie Brock who has spent time with a venomous symbiote in his body, attempts to interview Cletus Kassady, a serial killer. Kassady soon becomes a problem as he morphs into the big symbiotic creature, Carnage. It is now up to Venom to stop Carnage from unleashing destruction to society.

Venom (2018) - IMDb

I hated the first “Venom.” I have avoided this film since the theater. While it was not my worst film experience of the year, I was weary of what this film stood for as far as the comic book movie genre goes. The violence felt generic, the acting came off as lackluster, even from Tom Hardy, and I felt that it was a step down for the comic book movie genre, especially in a year where they have proven to be a force with critics and the box office. The success of “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” were not enough, we needed some schlock in the mix I guess.

The first “Venom” made over $800 million at the worldwide box office. So naturally, when a sequel was announced, I was not surprised. After all, everyone likes money. I had little to no interest in a sequel based on the impression that the first film left me. I felt like that film made me dumber. It was one of those films that by the time we got to 2020, I didn’t really care as much if it got pushed back due to COVID-19. Granted, part of me is now in the mindset that if any movie does well, even if I don’t like it, I will root for its success as it is good for the industry. And that success has been solidified so far with “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” as the new movie made over $90 million the weekend it opened in the United States.

But is all that success just money talking or will I give this film a personal green checkmark? To be frank, I had a lot of fun with “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” There is a saying in film that sequels are often inferior to the originals. Unless you’re talking about “Terminator 2,” “The Dark Knight,” “Spider-Man 2,” “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” “Fast Five,” “Furious 7,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Toy Story 2,” “Toy Story 3,” and “Shrek 2.” The reason why this film excels is because of the same reason that “Godzilla vs. Kong” succeeded for me. It was big, loud, and delightfully dumb. Granted, you could say that about the first “Venom,” but that film personally had inferior acting, borderline corporate, uninspired writing, and violence that could have pushed the bar, but felt kind of tame. Much like its predecessor, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is PG-13, meaning you can have violence, but not so much blood. But unlike the 2018 piece of crap, I would say “Let There Be Carnage” does a better job at, well, bringing on the f*cking carnage.

And speaking of Carnage, let’s talk about him. This film’s villain is obviously Carnage, an insane serial killer who becomes a red symbiotic monster. First off, big improvement over the last movie, as much as I like Riz Ahmed, who KILLED IT in “Sound of Metal” last year, his performance as Carlton Drake was not the highlight of the original “Venom.” Another improvement I’ll bring up, and this is one I think some would argue gets into nitpick territory, but still, I think the choice of using Carnage in this film gives this sequel an uptick over the previous film’s rivalry because there were times where I was watching Eddie and Carlton duke it out, but I cannot tell who is who because everything is dark and all the fighting is two guys in black symbiotic suits trying to wreck each other. The film is ultimately lit better, the color palette is more attractive, and the action is more fun to watch.

Cletus Kassidy is also a fine villain on his own. I think casting Woody Harrelson was a smart move because he did a good job at bringing a sense of insanity mixed in with a flair of viciousness to the table. Harrelson’s performance in this film reminded me of, as much as I did not like the film, Jared Leto’s performance as Albert Sparma in “The Little Things” because in that film he was subtle and quiet, but every time he spoke, it felt commanding and bigger than what I could actually see. The beauty in Harrelson’s performance was not only what he says, but how he says it. In addition, his physicality is individualistic and much like Tom Hardy as Eddie, I cannot see anyone else at this point playing Cletus Kassidy. As for his love interest, Frances Barrison, I liked seeing her in this movie too, because not only was she a fun character to watch who was decently cast with Naomie Harris in her shoes, but I like how her powers reveal the weaknesses of other core characters, including Cletus himself.

This movie, like the original, has a PG-13 rating. I critiqued the first “Venom” for having action that felt clean for its subject matter and not doing anything special with what was on screen. I wanted to see death and destruction, and there are times where the film looks like it is going to reach that point, but it can’t quite get there. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” still has a slightly tame feel to it at times, but compared its predecessor, the violence in this film feels pretty close to an R even without all the blood. There’s a scene you may have noticed in the trailer where Carnage takes his tongue and swallows it down another person’s throat, a lot of the combat towards the end of the film is pretty intense, and I will say that as far as the PG-13 rating goes when it comes to language, they kind of nailed it. Because there is a rule in films that are PG-13 where you can only go so far with the f-bomb, and without spoilers, the point where they drop the f-bomb in this movie may have made for a possible spot in the top 10 best PG-13 f-bombs of all time. Might even be #1, it’s that effective and satisfying.

The best part of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is the mix of the runtime and the pacing. There are a lot of movies that have come out over the years that are over 2 hours, maybe 2 and a half hours that maybe I, or someone else, will walk out of saying, that was okay, or that was terrible, one thing they should have done is trimmed at least ten minutes off the runtime. I even did that recently with “Dear Evan Hansen.” So for this to be my next movie in the cinema was a nice change of pace. This movie is all murder, no filler. All carnage, no– Actually, I cannot come up with a good rhyme. If anyone can comment with a rhyme that would be great! This movie ends up with a runtime of 97 minutes, and I don’t think I want more or less. 97 minutes was the perfect runtime for this movie as it allowed the story to establish its points from the beginning, quickly drop the audience into the middle of the action, and offer a simple structure that would appeal to the target demographic. Quite a bit happens in that runtime, it’s almost like the movie was on cocaine.

I was a bit weary on Venom and Eddie’s relationship from the first movie, but it had potential, and I think “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” unleashes all the possible potential there is to be had. I went to see this movie with a friend and I think she described the chemistry between Venom and Eddie the way it should immediately be viewed. She saw the chemistry between the dynamic duo equal to that of an old, married couple. There are several scenes in “Let There Be Carnage” that cement that point. At one point they’re besties, at some other point they argue, one tries to make the other feel better about something. Despite their differences, Eddie and Venom at the end of the day are best pals even if this relationship was not something either of them wanted. In fact, after I watched the movie, I read an article where Andy Serkis and others were debating on calling the movie “Venom: Love Will Tear Us Apart.” As much as I like the current title, that is a fine alternative given what goes on in the movie. And also, I think Tom Hardy himself has done a great job evolving into the character. Even though I thought his previous performance as Eddie Brock was underwhelming, I would have to say that these past two movies have shown that Hardy is embracing his character as much as he can. As far as this film goes, I like Hardy’s performance as both Eddie and Venom. His voice for Venom is ridiculously heightened to the point where I cannot imagine many other people taking this role in the future. If someone else does take the role, I think some major reinvention will have to come into play.

Also, it’s great to see Peggy Lu back as Mrs. Chen, the owner of the convenience store who is in the know of Eddie’s secret identity. I liked seeing her in this film because like Eddie, who has grown to know Venom, Chen has an understanding of Venom that makes the two of them have a connection. Even though at one point, Venom wants to eat her. Pretty normal friendly relationship if you ask me, nothing out of the ordinary.

If I had any other complaints about “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” the obvious one, even though this is not TECHNICALLY a complaint, would be that this movie is not to be taken seriously. The only real Academy Award I could see this film being nominated for is Best Visual Effects. The script does not reinvent the wheel and spends a lot of time trying to be silly. This is not always a bad thing because the film knows its audience and is only doubling down on the success of the first movie. If anything, the more I think about it, this movie has a heir of the tone of “Batman & Robin,” but it uses that tone to show off something ten times as competent.

My one last complaint about the film is also something that I could place into a box that I would write “GUILTY PLEASURE” on in black Sharpie. You know how Sony is… Well, Sony? PRODUCT PLACEMENT! PRODUCT PLACEMENT! GET YOUR PRODUCT PLACEMENT! There is this crucial scene in the film where we see Eddie and Venom bickering with each other, and in this scene, we see that Eddie’s apartment is being ruined in the process, and of course, one thing that gets ruined is the television. In this moment, we see the television face its doom, but in one or two scenes later, we are back at the apartment, and viola! A brand new TV! I’m not suggesting Eddie didn’t have the time to buy a new television. Although I hope he’s wealthy enough to live in the San Francisco area. What I am saying is, right next to the televison is a giant Sony box in all its glory! Ah, the ways to promote your products! Money talks! Money walks! I call this a guilty pleasure because it involves a couple scenes that serve their purpose, one of which had me laughing my ass off like a maniac, but they used them for some easy promotion. It’s not “Transformers: Age of Extinction” levels of obvious, but still.

Also, stay for the credits. You won’t regret it.

In the end, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” brings on the carnage to gargantuan levels! I recommend this sequel over the original. I do plan to watch it again at some point. Tom Hardy has become married to this character in a sense. I hope to see more of him, maybe they’ll do a “Venom 3” someday, I would very much like to see that. This is by no means the best comic book movie of the year, especially not compared to “The Suicide Squad,” but “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” gets a thumbs up from me, and I hope to see more of the character in the future. I’m going give “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” a 7/10.

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is now playing exclusively in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you want to see my review for the original “Venom,” click the link right here! It’ll take you back a couple years after I saw the movie on opening weekend, where the audience I was with seemed to have a much better time than me. Also, my next review is going to be for “Halloween Kills,” which hits theaters this weekend and will also be streaming on Peacock. I just went to the press screening the other night, and I cannot wait to talk about it. Spooky season is here! If you want to see this and more on Scene Before follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Venom: Let There Be Carnage?” What did you think about it? Or, which “Venom” movie do you prefer? The original or the sequel? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Little Women (2019): Call Me “March” Like You Said You Would

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“Little Women” is directed by Greta Gerwig (Isle of Dogs, Lady Bird) and stars Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird, Mary Queen of Scots), Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast, The Circle), Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Fighting with my Family), Eliza Scanlen (Home and Away, Sharp Objects), Laura Dern (Marriage Story, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy, Interstellar), Meryl Streep (The Post, Sophie’s Choice), Tracy Letts (The Lovers, The Post), Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad, Incredibles 2), James Norton (Happy Valley, Flatliners), Louis Garrel (The Dreamers, Redoubtable), and Chris Cooper (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood). This film is based on the book of the same name conceived by Louisa May Alcott, which has been adapted and brought to other mediums in the past, and this is another attempt to make a film out of it. The story of “Little Women” follows the lives of the March sisters, four women who are determined to live life on their own terms.

Apparently, this is one of multiple adaptations of “Little Women.” However, just a fair warning, I have never read the book, and I never witnessed any other adaptation of the IP. So this film took my “Little Women” virginity. I probably would have gone to see this film earlier, but due to time constraints, other films getting in the way, not to mention missing out on an opportunity to go to an advance screening, I just couldn’t get around to “Little Women” until now. In fact, the reason why I am watching “Little Women” at this point is to get caught up on this year’s Academy Award nominations, specifically Best Picture. Upon hearing which films were announced for the category, I have seen each one except “Little Women,” so I took today,  perhaps my least busy day of the week, and took the subway to a non-profit theater that way I could go watch the movie in 35mm film. I figured if I wanted to watch a Best Picture nominee, I might as well commit.

Sadly, I don’t feel like that commitment has worked out. I will be honest, I was kind of disappointed with “Little Women.” I would like to just point out, I admire Greta Gerwig as a filmmaker. I think she knocked it out of the park with her 2017 feature-length directorial debut, “Lady Bird.” Although if I had to compare “Little Women” to “Lady Bird” and my desire to go back and watch them again, it would be like comparing odds of finding a Chick-fil-A in a casino or a slot machine in a casino. Even though I have seen “Lady Bird” once, it would probably associate more with the slot machine. It’s a jackpot! As for “Little Women,” I might chicken out after a little while.

Now… Don’t think I am nagging on “Little Women” calling it a disaster. It is by no means the worst movie of all time, it just has problems is all. In fact, “Little Women,” in terms of direction, shines. I feel like in terms of a director wanting to get THEIR vision out to the public, “Little Women’s” Greta Gerwig succeeded at such a task more so than a good number of other filmmakers this year. A lot of the cinematography done by Yorick Le Saux is beautiful and totally stands out through the 35mm print shown at my screening. Alexandre Desplat’s score is great and fits the vibe! I also like the idea of not only shooting the film on location, but shooting it around the area where Louisa May Alcott wrote the “Little Women” book, Concord, Massachusetts. It provided for some of the most gorgeous scenery of 2019’s cinematic year and some of the better production design for said cinematic year. A lot of the scenes in the film are wonderfully realized and jump off the screen. Too bad the movie’s kind of boring.

Don’t get me wrong, the movie starts out fine. In fact, the first two thirds are somewhat interesting. The characters, not to mention the actors who play them, are not half bad. I felt the chemistry between pretty much every single character, which may have been the most necessary requirement for this film, because if I did not believe in the chemistry between the sisters, then why should I care? Amazingly, I got to a point where I did not care. I say that because even though this film is one of the better technical pieces of the year, I think pacing-wise, it suffers. I like the idea of these women dealing with their separate and collective issues, and there are some scenes that were in a word, capital! I will not go into detail, because despite having seen a trailer, I am not sure how much this film revealed beforehand. But I think one of this film’s bigger challenges, from a screenplay and directing perspective is meshing together all of these characters’ individual journeys and having a viewer like me care about all of it without it feeling a tad like a mess. Unfortunately, the film dives into the messy territory. “Little Women” honestly feels ten, twenty, maybe even thirty minutes longer than its runtime, specifically 2 hours and 15 minutes. For reference, I watched “Marriage Story” in the theater at the end of the previous December, which was 2 hours and 17 minutes. “Marriage Story” honestly somehow feels shorter than “Little Women.” To add onto this, I remember staying throughout the entire credits during “Marriage Story.” On the other hand, I left part of the way through “Little Women’s” credits.

I almost wonder if “Little Women” is one of those films that could get better through a rewatch, that way I can just concentrate closely on each character and maybe care about them with an all new point of view, but after watching this film for the first time, I don’t see much else of a reason to watch it once more. I have never been interested in the book, I have never sought out any other adaptation of this material, and in case you must know, and maybe this is affecting my thoughts on the film a little bit, I am not really in the target audience for “Little Women.” As far as I know, “Little Women” was never originally written for me, so I may not have the perspective that many of its targets would. I think actors like Saoirse Ronan, Laura Dern, and Timothée Chalamet do a fine job with their roles and suit their characters well, pretty much to the point where I don’t imagine anybody else portraying them. I also think the costumes in the movie are some of the finest and most sophisticated costumes in a 2019 film. “Little Women” has a lot of good qualities to it, but several things keep me from wanting to go back and watch it again. I am honestly shocked to say all of this, because I didn’t hate the trailer that I saw for this film, and I had faith in Greta Gerwig. To be clear, she did a good job with the direction, but had a few things been handled better, I think this could have been a damn fine vision, not to mention a better movie.

Plus, another thing to consider is this… I already mentioned that I am not the target audience. So I have to ask everyone reading a question and this may be important. First off, if you have seen 2019’s “Little Women,” what are your thoughts on it? Also, if you have seen any other material related to the “Little Women” IP, what are your experiences in relation to that? Was what you saw pretty good? Bad? Middle of the road? I’ll even ask this classic question, was this movie better than the book? Let me know!

In the end, “Little Women” is one of the bigger disappointments of a film that I have witnessed in recent memory. If you have followed this blog recently, you may know that I reviewed “Cats” because I apparently have ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD to watch “Cats.” When I reviewed “Cats,” I called it the most competent borefest of a film released in its particular year. “Little Women” was released in the same year as “Cats,” specifically 2019, and there is an argument that I could make from my end that “Little Women” may dethrone “Cats” to earn such a title. It’s gorgeous, beautiful, not to mention vibrant. As a production, it is a feast for the eyes. But the eyes need to do more than stare at pretty things for a couple of hours. Had the movie maintained the promising pacing and kept me as interested as I was during the first couple of acts, I would still recommend “Little Women” to a lot more people. Of the movies the Academy nominated for Best Picture this year, “Little Women” is honestly my least preferred. But to be honest, based on the positives outweighing the negatives for this film FOR NOW, I am going to give “Little Women” a 6/10. This film is no “Lady Bird,” and I’ll be honest, for everyone who is upset about Greta Gerwig not getting nominated for Best Director, I get it. But personally, gender is not a topic I am associating with how I view nominations, but that’s just me, I think a display of talent regardless of gender, should come first, doesn’t mean I want to start an online war about it. Although I will be honest, all the chosen nominees, to me, were better in terms of vision fulfillment, technical choices, not to mention creating an overall better movie, at least for the most part on some of these direction-related requirements. And if you want my two cents, I do have a recommendation for a great 2019 film directed by a woman. If you haven’t already, go watch “Honey Boy,” it’s gonna be on Prime soon and I highly recommend it!

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that I am going to be heading back to college next week, and hopefully it does not affect my consistent content release schedule. But maybe before I go back, I am planning on watching one more movie. Maybe I’ll watch more than one, but I didn’t want to end this post without mentioning “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson,” directed by Daniel Farrands. As of right now, this film is not playing anywhere near me, although it did get a release in theaters. And if this sounds somewhat familiar, this film is from the director of the 2019 abomination, “The Haunting of Sharon Tate.” I just want to say… I MIGHT sacrifice my soul and watch this movie. For those of you who have seen my worst of the 2010s list know that “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” earned a spot pretty high on the list. I’m just curious to know if “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson” is somehow any worse. If I watch this movie, please wish me luck! I might need it! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! If you want to leave a like or comment (if your account is eligible), please do so! It really helps me out! Also, please check out my Facebook page and spread the word about Flicknerd and Scene Before on social! I want to know, did you see “Little Women?” What did you think about it? Or, of the 2020 Best Picture nominees from the Academy, which is your favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019): The Truth Is… I Am Spider-Man

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Well, I waited over two weeks, I finally get to say it. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is directed by Jon Watts (Cop Car, The Onion News Network), who also was the director and one of the writers behind the preceding film in this franchise, “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” This film stars Tom Holland (The Lost City of Z, In the Heart of the Sea), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Snakes on a Plane), Zendaya (The Greatest Showman, Shake It Up), Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother, Safe Haven), Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book, Chef), Jacob Batalon (Blood Fest, Every Day), Martin Starr (Silicon Valley, Knocked Up), J.B. Smoove (Uncle Drew, Hall Pass) with Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny, Chaplin) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler, Stronger). This is the 23rd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the second Spider-Man film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the eighth big screen “Spider-Man” film of the 21st century. So much for originality! Yay! This film continues the adventures of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker in a post universe-wide snappening setting. As everyone adapts to a world that has changed forever, Peter Parker and his classmates are going on a field trip to Europe, only to run into chaos through unexpected encounters including Mysterio, and Nick Fury himself.

When it comes to Spider-Man, he is by far my favorite superhero of all time. Spider-Man is the perfect embodiment of your average teenager trying to live a normal life, but various struggles and obstacles beyond their control manage to get in their way. As for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, my love for him is unbelievable. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of “Homecoming,” I really enjoyed him in other films including “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” If I had to a superhero to relate to more than any other, Spider-Man is definitely number one. This is a reason why I really enjoyed a movie like Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2,” because it emphasizes the internal conflict of what Peter wants vs. what he needs. That film by the way, is my favorite comic book flick of all time. And in some ways, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” sort of takes me back to the time frame of Sam Raimi’s films.

Mary Jane has a screen presence in this film that I personally did not expect.

This movie has the result of Sandman getting a makeover due to incoming tides.

Not to mention, the film is freaking awesome!

In fact, you know how “Avengers: Endgame” perhaps stands as the most anticipated film? Like, ever? As the release for “Endgame” got closer and closer, my hype levels increased. Can’t say that for “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” I saw the first trailer, thought it sucked, and while going into the film, I appreciated this film’s efforts to try reminding everyone of the effects of “Endgame,” I was still somewhat nervous. Then I came out of the film, got home, and made the following tweet.

For all I know, this could be due to just seeing the film, my opinion could change, but I felt a bigger impact through the smaller and slightly more individualistic story of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” than I did for perhaps what has been marketed as the biggest geekfest in history. But much like that giant nerdgasm-inducing experience, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is not perfect.

Much like “Avengers: Endgame,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home” suffers from minor pacing issues, but similar to “Endgame,” “Far From Home” has pacing issues which I can live with simply because of everything else that is happening. And this is not an issue in every sense of the word, but this movie has a lot of moments in its script that are incredibly convenient to what is happening on screen. But at the same time, I feel like that is one of the big improvements I can give to “Far From Home” when comparing it to “Homecoming.” Why? One of my biggest issues with “Homecoming” had to do with the script in a crapton of ways, one of which included the unbelievable amount of comedy inserted. And honestly, there was not a lot that landed. When it comes to Spidey’s quips and one-liners in “Homecoming,” they don’t feel as hysterical as they could be. I could tell that Tom Holland was trying his hardest with the material that may have sounded great on paper, but for one reason or another, the jokes just didn’t stick the landing for me. Here however, there seems to be a lot less comedy, and the bits of comedy they have in this film, when present, completely works. Because let’s face it, this movie is the first installment in the MCU that has to reflect on the past couple of “Avengers” flicks, which honestly would present the need for a slightly more serious script. Plus, Sony’s distributing this film instead of Disney. When the mouse is away, the spiders will play!

Also, while I keep talking about “Spider-Man: Homecoming” as if it happens to be the last “Spider-Man” film to be released, keep in mind that we just got “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which many consider to be the best “Spider-Man” film to date. While I don’t know whether or not I enjoyed this film or “Spider-Verse” more, I can confirm that when I saw “Spider-Verse,” it was perhaps the biggest acid trip of a superhero film I have ever watched. Guess what? I might need to rethink that statement, and I won’t go into why, BUT LET ME HAVE YOU KNOW THAT “SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME” IS ONE HELL OF A DRUG! If you drop acid before this movie, I wish you luck on getting out of the movie theater when the film ends because there are a couple of head-spinning moments that kind of left me speechless.

And you know something? Another shocker for this film to me is MJ, because when I saw her in “Homecoming,” I did not like her, I thought she some clowny individual who barely had a personality. This time there is depth to her, and even though I was nervous back in 2016 when they announced who was playing MJ, specifically Zendaya, she pulled it off in this movie! Mainly because she had a take on it that made the character her own. After all, her name isn’t really Mary Jane, it’s actually Michelle. If she was a redhead, I’d want the character a certain way. But I appreciate Zendaya’s take not only because her character was well written, not just because she did her part with excellence, but because it did not feel like the type of MJ I thought she would be, which would be a black person trying to playing the typical white Mary Jane, almost as if it were a s*itty impression. Zendaya has her individual flair which brought some pizzazz to the final product. Rock on! Granted, seeing her in the beginning of the film was a little sloppy, in fact, that’s not the only issue I have with the start of the film (there are a couple minor moments leaning towards cringe), but as it went on, I began to admire her.

And the surprises don’t even end there, because this time around I actually liked Ned! If you don’t remember my “Homecoming” review, this is what I said about Ned.

“One character in this movie goes by the name of Ned Leeds, he was played by Jacob Batalon, and there was a point in this movie where I wanted some sort of technology that existed which could allow me to jump into a movie’s universe. I could go into this one, find Ned, and give him the finger!”

You know what? Forget about that statement, f*ck it! Because in this movie, Ned is the opposite of annoying. In fact, he’s pretty charming at certain times. There’s this portion of the film dedicated to this relationship he has with this one girl, which honestly, had its ups and downs, but there are moments when I can approve of it.

Also, if anything, it reminded me of the Schmoopie relationship from “Seinfeld.”

And while I won’t dive too deep into this, another problem I had with “Homecoming” that somehow gets fixed here is my displeasure with the AI from that film. Remember Karen? I do. And I don’t like her. While she could have been charming in that film, she had a few quirks that did not sit well with me. Karen does not make a return here and I won’t go into detail, but there’s an AI here that is honestly charming, and even sets up an entertaining and thrilling sequence on a bus.

Moving onto our main character, Peter Parker is back and now the important question is this: What would be a bigger feat for him than going to space? Europe? That’s nothing! Any idiot can fly a plane to Europe! But nevertheless, Parker is vacationing in Europe, and now he has to deal with a side mission, which takes away from whatever relaxation he can get. This is why I really enjoy the character of Spider-Man, because other heroes, specifcally in the MCU, always seem to be built with this sort of drive to save the world. Granted, with an interpretation such as Tony Stark, maybe he’d get a little drained from it and prefer to lay low for awhile like he did in “Iron Man 3,” but there are not many moments where I have seen an MCU hero flat out refuse to do hero work. When the Avengers got together, just about everyone showed up. Thor always seemed to have a knack for defending Asgard with a hammer by his side. Captain America would always be willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good. But Spider-Man… Needs his alone time. While in some instances, I imagine this would make a hero look like a dick or a coward, it works for Peter Parker because he’s just a normal, likable, not to mention, relatable kid. He just wants a normal life despite various perks of being a superhero. In fact, Peter’s story and actions in this film kind of remind me of what is like to be me when I was younger. I had my crushes, perhaps constantly imagined plans to get together with said crushes, and if you know me, they did not work out, and I’m fine with that. By the way ladies, I’m single! Plus, Peter in this film has to deal with following in the footsteps of those above him, which is something that I did think about out sometimes when I was younger. Granted, probably not a lot, but the thought definitely did come up in my head once or twice.

I also really liked Mysterio in this film, they managed to go in a direction with the character that I for one personally did not expect, and as for Jake Gyllenhaal, he was basically perfect casting for this role. I remember back in the day I wanted him to be the next Batman if Affleck were to leave. Granted, he’s not, but still. But even though I never imagined Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, I cannot help but dig him. He did a really good job, and I love his costume! It’s amazing!

Now despite what the box office can make me think, there are still people out there who have yet to see “Avengers: Endgame.” But in “Endgame,” there is a lot that happens that leads to this film’s events. In fact, the beginning of this film is a tribute to a couple of major characters who have encountered a common barrier in “Endgame.” And this movie, while I won’t go into context, shows off perhaps the most heart-wrenching footage of the snappening I’ll ever see in my life. If you thought that collection of deaths on Wakanda was disturbing, I’ll remind you, the effects to me were personally diminished (although still slightly powerful) because going into “Infinity War,” I kinda knew we were going to see people die. Granted, I didn’t know who, how, or when, but I knew something was coming. What made it really disturbing is that it was just a bunch of innocent people going through their everyday lives. Granted, that was sort of already shown during “Infinity War’s” end credits, but this movie did it better because for all I know it was shot on somebody’s phone or some other everyday camera. It almost reminds me of the found footage movie “Cloverfield” the more I think about it, because in a way, I felt immersed into such a disturbing situation, not to mention from a rather shaky first person perspective.

In the end, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” can be summed up in one word. Fun. It has a vibe that is almost reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films while also managing to be a product of its own. The movie, in more ways than one, made me feel young again. I talked to death about the relatable teen year experiences this film provided, but I grew up watching Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films and in some ways, this film managed to take me back to when I was somewhere between 6 to 14 years old. “Spider-Man 2” still stands as my favorite comic book movie ever, but I cannot deny that this is definitely another solid second “Spider-Man” movie. As I was writing this review, I’ve been having a constant debate in my head on whether or not this is better than “Spider-Verse,” and this debate is far from over. I’m willing to bet that this won’t end for awhile. I’d probably have to rewatch both films to know for sure. But if I had to make my thoughts on this film as finalized as possible, I’d say that unlike “Spider-Verse,” I felt that “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” while just as entertaining, if not more, had a greater quantity of issues that stood out to me. So with that being said, “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” despite “Endgame” being a more conclusive chapter to the entire three phase saga of the MCU, is a damn fine way for Marvel to cap off their third phase. I’m going to give “Spider-Man: Far From Home” a high 8/10. I love the constant joke about how we are getting too many “Spider-Man” movies or movies that have Spidey in them. Well, if we’re getting films that are this good, why should they stop making them? I’ll wait for the next “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and then we’ll revisit this topic later. And I also will say, I almost forgot to consider this about “Spider-Verse,” it basically was a game-changer for the comic book genre in cinema. The animation style was unlike anything I have seen on the big screen up until that point. How many live-action “Spider-Man” films do we have right now? I don’t care about real numbers at this point. Let’s just go with umpteen because it sounds kind of fun. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that next Monday, July 22nd, will be the release date for my final Quentin Tarantino review series installment, specifically, “The Hateful Eight.” I’ll be reviewing this film just in time for Tarantino’s new film coming out next week, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Stay tuned!

Also, if you love “Spider-Man” like I do, or if you simply want to know more of my thoughts on the “Spider-Man” movies, I posted a review for every big screen “Spider-Man” film since the original Sam Raimi flick from 2002. If you want to check these out, click the links down below! Be sure to follow Scene Before through a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, I have a Facebook page, if you could do me a favor and give it a like or follow it would be very much appreciated! I want to know, did you see “Spider-Man: Far From Home?” What did you think about it? Or, as painful of a reminder as it may be, this is the first MCU film without a Stan Lee cameo. RIP, by the way. So with that being said, what is your personal favorite Stan Lee cameo? If you ask me, I’d go with the one where he tries to get into Reed and Susan’s wedding in “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” Tony Stank from “Captain America: Civil War,” the bus driving scene from “Avengers: Infinity War,” or even though it’s not Marvel, “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies,” which basically takes the Stan Lee cameo and manages fetishize it to the core. Nevertheless, let me know your pick, that way your name will make a random appearance as a cameo in this post! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Spider-Man 3 (2007)

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018): Does Whatever Spider-Acid Does

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“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, and stars Shameik Moore (Dope, The Get Down), Jake Johnson (New Girl, Jurassic World), Hailee Steinfeld (The Edge of Seventeen, True Grit), Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, House of Cards), Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta, This Is Us), Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie, The Magic School Bus), Luna Lauren Velez (How to Get Away with Murder, Dexter), John Mulaney (Saturday Night Live, Big Mouth), Kimiko Glenn (DuckTales, Orange Is the New Black), Nicolas Cage (Mandy, Raising Arizona), and Liev Schreiber (Spotlight, X-Men Origins: Wolverine). This film is about Miles Morales, a teenage boy who may be Spider-Man in his own reality, but it just so turns out that there’s a crossing in paths between several different realities. He eventually meets Peter Parker, who is Spider-Man in an alternate universe, and Parker guides Morales as he becomes the Spider-Man he’d ultimately want to be.

Going into “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” I have been exposed to all of the major trailers. When it comes to how I’d personally receive them, they started out weak, but each one improved over the last. I’d say there’s a similar story when it comes to this movie itself, I wasn’t all that excited for it, then I hear more about it, and I’m getting increasingly hyped. I imagine some people had a similar feeling in their minds when it comes to another animated film we’ve gotten this decade, specifically “The LEGO Movie.” I can say that because I’ve seen the trailers, and part of it seemed weird, part of it seemed a little too kiddy. But once people heard more about it and its overwhelmingly positive word of mouth, it brought more excitement towards the eventual incoming audiences. I’m not saying “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” looked too kiddy or anything like that, but I’m saying that my hype levels for the movie were not all that high.

In fact, if you look up this movie on IMDb, you’d see it has three directors, the writing credits, on the surface, makes the movie come off as if it is a factory product with eight people. LUCKILY, that’s not really the case when it comes to the movie’s script, because only two people wrote “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” the rest just have to do with the comics (Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, etc.). Then again, I could be getting ahead of myself because after all, “Airplane” has three directors and many people seem to consider that film an all-time classic. This is doesn’t even mention the fact that for two of the three directors, this is actually their directorial debut. They’ve done other work when it comes to film, but directing is not on their list until now. All the doubts that I had about this movie, let me just tell you right now, forget em. F*ck em. Screw em. Throw em away. This movie. Is. WILD.

Let’s be real here, I love Spider-Man. Spider-Man is my favorite superhero of all time, and when it comes to theatrical releases, this might be the most fun I’ve had watching a “Spider-Man” film since 2004’s “Spider-Man 2.” Yeeeah, I’ll be honest, “Homecoming” was kind of wasted. And I’ll also be honest, when it comes to comic book movies this year, this personally might rival “Infinity War,” which says something.

If you have ever read my review for “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” I manage to compare my experience watching that movie, which was ultimately mediocre, to what it could have been like as a ten year old kid. I said if I were a ten year old kid, there’s a chance I’d enjoy it more than I did watching it as an adult. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” made me unleash my inner child and reminded me of how awesome the character is.

Speaking of awesome, let’s talk about Miles Morales. I thought the depth provided to this character made deeply me care about him. I thought his story was fantastic, I related to his character in a way that is almost similar to how I relate to Peter Parker as a main character in numerous other “Spider-Man” stories. In this movie, Morales is a teenager in boarding school, who eventually finds a girl he likes, but he doesn’t know how to control himself around her. I thought when it comes to playing “Spider-Man” himself, Morales is certainly worthy.

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Speaking of which, let’s talk about Peter Parker. We’ve seen Peter Parker at various ages on screen, we’ve seen him in college, in high school, and in this movie, he seems to be in his late twenties. We’ve also seen a side to Peter Parker we’ve never seen before… He’s fat. If you have ever watched “Impractical Jokers” and seen the episode where Joe becomes a superhero per se, this is pretty much a Spider-Man-esque version of that. I partially say that because Joe’s superhero name lives up to his own physique, specifically “Captain Fatbelly.”

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When it comes to Marvel movies, I have no problem whatsoever with pointing out some occasional lackluster villains. But this is a Sony movie, and not in the MCU, so that doesn’t even matter here! There are a couple of antagonists in the film, most notably Doc Ock and Kingpin. BOTH OF THEM ARE AWESOME! I won’t go into it, but be sure to lookout for Doc Ock’s ultimate reveal, it is a crowd pleaser. As for Kingpin, he not only looks intimidating, he knows how to put up a fight. The chemistry between him, his cronies, and even Morales, are all things of beauty when it comes to “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

On the topic of Morales and Kingpin, there’s this one fight they get into towards the end of the movie, it is perhaps one of the flashiest, wackiest, and balls to the wall action sequences I’ve ever witnessed out of a comic book movie. In fact, going back to my skepticisms, one of the doubts I had when it comes to “Spider-Verse” is the animation style. When I saw the teaser, I was like, did we just reenter the stone age? But the more I saw, the more I realized it was supposed to look like a comic book on the big screen. Granted, there are already a lot of films that take a comic book-like animation style, but I don’t recall a film like this that got a theatrical release or perhaps resembled quality as much as “Spider-Verse.” Not only did the comic book animation style benefit the movie as a delightful quirk, but it also helped at poking fun at comic books themselves. You would occasionally see random text boxes to establish thoughts going on in someone’s head or a location, sometimes when Spidey’s swinging, you’d see the word “Thwip” pop up, and speaking of things that pop up, the same can also be said for when Spider-Man is shouting “WOOOOOOOO!” It almost reminds me of “Pixels” when the characters “scored points” for doing something they need to do to get their mission done.

Another little spark of kudos has to go to the writing. This movie is written by Phil Lord, who also wrote “The LEGO Movie,” one of the funniest animations I’ve ever seen. Speaking of Lord, he also co-directed “22 Jump Street,” a movie which the other screenwriter, Rodney Rothman, happened to pen. Aside from those comic book quirks this movie has a fetish for showing off, the film manages to be humorous, charming, shocking, and even a tad emotional. Even the idea for this movie was surprisingly grand. The execution of this multiverse concept was done with absolute brilliance. I was able to buy into all of these Spider-people being who they are, and some of them come off as just plain funny. There’s a film noir style Spider-Man, there’s an anime style Spider-Man, there’s even a Spider-Pig!

“Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig. / Does whatever a Spider-Pig does. / Can he swing / from a web? No he can’t, / He’s a Pig. / Look out! / He is the Spider-Pig. -Homer Simpson

OK, well, technically he’s referred to as “Spider-Ham,” but who cares?

There is not really much else I’d want to say when it comes to “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” but one thing I will say, is that there’s a possibility, that this movie could be a game changer. There has been an over-saturation of comic book based films and superhero movies put out on the big screen. However, I cannot recall the last time I saw one like this. For one thing, most of the comic book-based work we are getting today happens to be done in live-action. Also, this could potentially bring an increase of comic book-like superhero flicks. Maybe Disney would happen to get in on the action and do separate universes for heroes like Iron Man, Captain America, Black Panther, and Doctor Strange. Part of me also wonders since Warner Brothers/DC has no plans currently to do another “Superman” movie with Henry Cavill, if they want to do an animated “Superman” film in this sort of style at some point. Based on the box office, the quality of this film, and perhaps the spark that I BELIEVE it would make in young, aspiring filmmakers/animators, this genre only has potential to grow from this point. The comic book and superhero genre in film is already beyond enormous, and while part of me thinks sometimes that it is getting too big, there’s another part of me that would love to see a little more of this style of filmmaking. And it’s clear that people want to take this on. After all, it was recently announced that Sony is gonna try doing a female spinoff to this film. I don’t know the full details, but I’m hearing Gwen Stacy is going to be playing a significant role.

In the end, this is not just a fantastic comic book movie, but it’s also a great movie by itself. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is a well animated, weird, and nicely done film. It reminds me of why I love “Spider-Man” as a character, and when it comes to theater experiences, this is definitely one of the best I had this year. I saw this in IMAX, and the sound for this movie is beyond crazy. The scenes with intense action or fast-paced effects almost made me bend over in awe. I want to say one thing about this movie. Even though this movie is animated, I wouldn’t say it is entirely kid-friendly. To me, it’s almost like a Pixar film. It’s a film that families can enjoy, it’s a film that kids and adults alike can find interesting. The jokes are smart, the animation is beautiful, and I don’t think there’s one single moment in the film that I think is specifically meant to cater to children. Also, another thing I will say is that this film is one of the wildest, most wicked things I’ve seen in a while. I cannot recall the last time I saw an animated movie that made me think a part of me was on acid for some of the runtime. I loved “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” not only is it one of my favorite Spidey films, but also one of favorite animations of the year! I’m gonna give “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” a 9/10. Sure, I called this movie a game changer, and yeah, it is one of my favorite “Spider-Man” movies, but as far as replay value goes, I think there are a couple other films that I’d rather watch more than this one this year. As a contribution to film and how it could revolutionize the game, this might be a 10/10, but for my overall verdict, I’d give a 9/10. That’s just me though. Also, stay until the end of the credits, because there is a GREAT end credits scene! Thanks for reading this review! If you thought this was going to be the last 2018 comic book movie I’d review, you thought wrong. Next week is the release of “Aquaman.” I have no set date as to when I’m seeing that, but I do have my sights set on seeing the film as soon as possible. I might go see a movie or two before, because I now have the time to do so, and with courtesy to AMC’s $5 Ticket Tuesday, some may argue that I have the money to do so as well. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with a WordPress account or email so you stay tuned and swing on by for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse?” What did you think about it? Or, if Spider-Man were real, who or what would be your preferred vision of the masked hero? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Venom (2018): A Turd in the Wind

Tom Hardy in Venom (2018)

“Venom” is directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, 30 Minutes Or Less) and stars Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Eddie Brock, a reporter who we as an audience discover is living his life in the city with his partner, but one thing leads to another and he loses everything that’s important to him. At the same time, a symbiote lands on Earth and starts taking over people. A lab got their hands on the material and now they want to do whatever they can with it in regards to experimentation. Also, for those of you who know the comic books, you’d know that Eddie Brock eventually becomes the violent, mind-controlling Venom.

Let me just start this review off by saying I did not want this movie to exist before it came out. My earliest memory of hearing about this movie got me worried just from the concept alone. I had a feeling that comic book movie fatigue was starting to kick in for me after the painfully disappointing “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” and I felt like it was a really weird idea for someone to do a movie revolving around someone many people would associate as technically being a comic book villain. Granted, this movie treats him as a protector (sort of, really an antihero), but still. Then I saw the first couple of trailers, they were, “alright,” but I still was not fully onboard. The trailer we got over the summer however was definitely the best of the bunch. It showed Venom as this dark, crazy being and it made me want more.

That trailer was a few minutes. This movie is around the two hour range. Two hours is certainly more than a few minutes. But more isn’t always better. In this case, more is f*cking worse. The good thing about trailers is that they usually are quick. You get tons of shots and information regarding an upcoming movie in a short amount of time. It’s hard to say one can actually get bored by a trailer. This movie, to me at times, reminded me of “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” It’s a movie that takes a profitable or popular IP that nobody asked for, nobody wanted, but the studio is going to poop out anyway. Then again, based on what I’ve been hearing going into both movies, I think more people wanted “Venom” than “Solo.” Although unfortunately, I actually had a crapton more fun with “Solo.” You want to know how much fun I had for “Solo?” Well, when I saw the movie, I CLAPPED. Yes, I gave it a barely passable grade of 6/10. Here, I just questioned whatever was happening on screen.

In fact, you want to know how much I hate “Venom?” Here’s a tweet I recently posted.

If you didn’t already know, I actually reviewed “Spider-Man 3” and I managed to give it a 7/10. I will probably say that falls into the hot take category because a lot of people hate “Spider-Man 3” but in all seriousness, this movie just felt like it was an excuse for Sony to make a movie with “Spider-Man” characters that aren’t Spider-Man. At least there were some attempts of passion to potentially be put in “Spider-Man 3.” Granted, the attempts at putting Venom in the movie weren’t that way, but at least I had a reason to care about the people on screen. Here in “Venom,” I was bored, irritated, and just wanted to leave. And this is a weird complaint, but this movie felt like it was too fast. I say that most likely because it has barely any “Venom” in it. Maybe that’s an illusion, but that’s the way this movie felt to me. You get a lot of focus towards Eddie Brock, the human, to the point where I consider despite how this movie is actually called “VENOM,” it has a tad less of that character than I’d probably prefer. It’s the “Transformers” all over again! Granted, I will say, what we do get of the Venom character in this movie is a positive.

Some of the best scenes with Venom include him in a fight between the movie’s main villain (I won’t get into it), Venom calling Eddie a pussy for not jumping from a super high distance to the ground instead of taking an elevator, and one scene at the end that we saw in the trailer. And I will say, the voice work for Venom technically qualifies as my personal favorite performance in the entire film. I say that because when I compare the voice work to literally everything else, including Eddie Brock himself, everything else was just cringeworthy. While the character for Eddie Brock was well established, not only did I avoid caring about him, performance-wise, this might be the worst Tom Hardy performance I’ve ever seen. So many lines just feel like they’re processed by Hardy himself or they were written in the first draft. I can seriously imagine this movie had a first draft that sucked balls but because Sony wanted money sooner than later, they just let the first draft fly. It’s “Venom,” not “Spider-Man!” Who f*cking cares?! I don’t know who to really blame here! I want to blame the director. I want to blame the actor. I want to blame the writers.

“Venom” was written by three people and one of them probably wrote this movie because they have a good relationship with Sony. This writer in particular has written other Sony projects including “The Dark Tower,” “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” “The Fifth Wave,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” By the way, those last two films, I reviewed those and the highest grade I gave to one of those movies is a 3/10. Another writer worked on “Kangaroo Jack,” which I heard was horrible. The third writer worked on “Fifty Shades of Grey” so when you add this all up, you get one word. S*it.

Speaking of writing, another problem with it from my personal view can also translate to the directorial vision of the film as well. You know, if there even is a vision with this uninspired garbage. A lot of people wanted this film to be rated R. Having seen “Venom,” I understand why. While this film has some scary elements intact, it feels a lot more comedic than it should be. The director has done some work in the past involving comedies, and I feel like the comedic vision of the film when combining the writing and directing just make this film something it really shouldn’t have been. “Venom” should have been dark, it should have been gritty. “Venom” is PG-13, and admittedly, you can get away with some stuff in a PG-13 film. But this film probably would have been better if it actually didn’t cut away from certain violent happenings and show us more close-up action. “Venom” is throwing people around, eating them, and I didn’t see that much of it. F*cking stupid if you ask me! Although in the UK, “Venom” managed to get a 15 rating. I’m willing to bet it got a rating that high because the movie had a headbutt.

There are probably multiple reasons why “Venom” could have been kept at a PG-13. For one thing, “Venom” was in “Spider-Man 3” and that was PG-13. And speaking of “Spider-Man,” one wonder in my head is whether or not Sony plans to put Venom into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After all, Spider-Man, whose movie rights are owned by Sony, is currently under a deal where the character can appear in the MCU, which is run by Disney. Sony probably wants to get kids into the theater and if they succeed, this only increases their chances of Venomizing the MCU.

Also, reason #3, money. If you want to bring in the money, bring in the kids.

I’ll be honest with you, if comic book movies weren’t a priority to me for movie reviewing purposes, I would have probably gone out to see “Venom” maybe not right away, but maybe later on if it were PG-13. But if it were rated R, I would have probably gone to see it sooner.

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In fact, the more I hear about “Venom,” the more I realize Sony has just about no faith in it whatsoever. For one thing, most of the movie’s screenings occurred on the week of the film’s release, the film was met with poor reviews from critics, and the review embargo was not that far from the release of the movie. Without going into spoilers, they play a clip of one of their upcoming films in the end credits. And you know something? This isn’t a minute, it’s more like a few or four minutes! It just basically says, “Hey, our film sucks! If you were patient enough to stick around for all of this time, we have a special treat for you! Check out this amazing footage to one of our upcoming movies!” I know some of you might be thinking, “Hey, Jackass! Don’t people like you praise Marvel Studios for their end credit scenes?” Again, those don’t last nearly as long, and they stay in their own universe. This promotes a movie in an entirely different universe. It’s just s*itty!

Speaking of the credits, there was also a mid-credits scene. This one however managed to stay in the same universe. Without going into detail, I gotta say, it kind of reminded me of “The Amazing Spider-Man” because it takes place in a prison. It just goes to show that maybe these Spidey-related films are probably more processed than maybe we’d all realize. Also, I mentioned that one of the writers for this movie worked on “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” I am someone who loves “Spider-Man,” and the fact that one of the writers from one of the worst “Spider-Man” movies and perhaps one of the all-time most abysmal comic-book movies came back to work on “Venom” just makes me angry. We’re seeing ideas that have been done before, and maybe even done better.

Wayne Pére, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate, and Sope Aluko in Venom (2018)

Speaking of horrible, let’s talk about the antagonist. His name is Carlton Drake and he’s played by Riz Ahmed. If there were a word to describe this guy, I’d say it would be “ass.” While his presence on screen could have been worse, there are so many moments where I look back and he comes off as this processed, cliche bad guy who we eventually find out does cliche bad guy things. Not to mention, there’s one moment where we see this character staring at the symbiote and he refers to it as “beautiful.” The way that line comes off is cringeworthy. Actually, I take that back because cringeworthy is too much of a compliment. Instead, that line is an abomination.

Tom Hardy and Scott Haze in Venom (2018)

Let’s also talk about the action here. I recently mentioned this movie is PG-13, I wanted it to be rated R, yada-yada-yada. One reason I wanted an R rating is because of how the movie was shot, directed, and edited. This actually feels like it could have been done better by a high-schooler. I feel like that’s a good comparison because the action here just feels standard and conventional. At least when you’re younger, you probably have a tendency to think outside the box. Just think of those mind games where you have to, say, I don’t know, put a giraffe in a refrigerator or something. Maybe the high schooler’s action looks cheap, but at least it’s stylistic. The action easily felt like it could be compared to scenes in movies like “Skyscraper” or something. Nothing felt raw, or at the very least, intriguing.

“Deadpool” is rated R, and a phrase often associated with the character is “maximum effort.” This PG-13 pile of garbage? It doesn’t feel that way! And sticking with the rating idea, I will admit that some people I come across on the Internet would call this film cheesy. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. Cheesy doesn’t always mean bad. “Power Rangers” is cheesy and a lot of kids enjoy it. “Big Trouble in Little China” is probably the epitome of cheesy and it’s tons of fun. “The Meg” is a summertime blockbuster that is clearly meant to just be a good time while still being somewhat packed with cheesy humor. It’s all good. There was cringe in this movie, involving directing, acting, and writing that made me take my eyes off the screen and turn my head as I placed my hand there. Part of me couldn’t even believe what I was watching. I wanted this to be dark. Venom is not a comical inner voice. Venom is in fact, essentially a monster that eats people. I know that the MCU seems to be succeeding in terms of delivering effective movies with humorous scripts, but not every comic book movie has to have tons of humor. This is why you have “V For Vendetta.” This is why you have “Batman Begins.” This is why you have “Man of Steel.” They say that laughter is the best medicine, but at this point laughter might as well be a drug and when it comes to “Venom,” I seemed to acquire the drug from somebody else and it wasn’t prescribed to me. Not to mention, this movie released in October, and given how everyone is getting into the Halloween spirit, this movie could have gotten a chance to fall more into the horror genre than perhaps the action genre. There are disturbing elements intact, but the shock value from bloodier and more violent scenes that can be triggered from an R rating can definitely contribute to being associated with horror. Then again, when you’re competing against horror films left and right along with some films made for awards season, I guess being a conventional comic book-based flick can make you stand out in the crowd.

Did I want “Venom” to be the next “Dark Knight?” Not really. In fact, that movie is PG-13 so that also partially contributes to my thoughts. I was not expecting “Dark Knight” material from “Venom,” I was expecting crap the whole time, and I turned out to have my expectations met. Over time, I have thought to myself that maybe comic book villains could get their own movies. The more I hear about the Joaquin Phoenix “Joker” film, the more excited I get. “Deadpool” is technically not really a hero, but he does have some motivation behind him to do as he sees fit which makes him an intriguing main character. The way they handled “Venom” is the same way I’d probably handle parenting. They dropped the movie on its soft spot.

Tom Hardy in Venom (2018)

I will give credit though where it is due, Tom Hardy has had his fair share of roles where he had to play a character in a mask. Out of all of them, this was by far the easiest to understand.

Tom Hardy in Venom (2018)

In the end, I sucked all the “Venom” out out of a snake. In case you haven’t figured it out, this movie made me stupider. How often does one say they would rather watch “Spider-Man 3” as opposed to another movie they can pick from their collection? This movie just gets so much worse the more I think about it. Upon leaving the theater, I thought the movie sucked. A few days later, I think it sucks balls. If you like cheesiness, I wouldn’t say you should shy away from this movie, but for me, this was too light. In fact, Sony is seemingly planning to release a sequel I GUESS by the end of 2020, but if that’s the case, I am not looking forward to it. As of right now, I gotta be honest. This is the worst movie I’ve seen done in live-action that has some sort of relation to the “Spider-Man” franchise. IT’S THAT HORRIBLE. I’m going to give “Venom” a 2/10. I was across the board as this film progressed. Maybe it’s a 5/10, maybe a generous 6/10, perhaps a 4/10. This movie is honestly getting the poor grade it deserves. It feels like a corporate studio effort (or lack thereof) to cash-in on “Spider-Man” and get some hardcore fans in the theater because this interpretation of “Venom” could potentially be better than “Spider-Man 3.” It’s as if the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has generated $17.5 billion dollars thus far, is the latest fashion trend and “Venom” is the latest thing to enter such a craze going off the MCU’s heels because it’s gonna make money. At the end of the day, movies are not all about trends or making something to just keep business going. They are an art form, and certain comic book movies have fallen into a category that makes them artistic. “Venom” is just not one of them.

Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’ll have my review up for “A Star Is Born,” which I can assure you all is a hell lot better than this movie. “Venom” may have crushed the weekend, but “A Star Is Born” dominated in just about every other way. Speaking of movie reviews, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get this out on time, but I do have plans to review “Apollo 13.” I already did a couple reviews in my space movie review series, both of which I enjoyed making. I would love to make a review for “Apollo 13,” but the fact is, I don’t know if I will be able to put it out on time. I have some things on my plate regarding these next couple of days, I have to deal with school, and this may be a weird thing to say, but I need to relax. I just got back from New York Comic Con, I have to do a post on that, and I took somewhere past 70,000 steps over the weekend. MY LEGS ARE KILLING ME. Nevertheless, be sure to follow me here on Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Venom?” What did you think about it? Or, who is your favorite “Spider-Man” villain? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Molly’s Game (2017): Passable, but with “High MIstakes”

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“Molly’s Game” is directed by Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs, The Social Network) and stars Jessica Chastain (Interstellar, Zero Dark Thirty), Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, Thor), and Kevin Costner (Man of Steel, Dances with Wolves) in a movie based on a book of the same name. It’s about the true story of Molly Bloom, a former poker entrepreneur and Olympic-class skier who was charged with running the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game.

I haven’t really followed much of Aaron Sorkin’s previous work. This movie is actually his directorial debut, and if you have followed Sorkin’s work, you’d know he’s typically known for his writing. Sorkin is responsible for creating “The West Wing,” which he often wrote. As far as movies go, he has written “Moneyball,” “Steve Jobs,” “The Social Network,” “A Few Good Men,” and “Charlie Wilson’s War.” I was actually going to watch “Steve Jobs” in 2015 during its theatrical run, but I never got around to it. Nevertheless, I heard the fellow can write. Having seen this movie, I’d say he can direct too. I can appreciate the vision this movie contained. Going at a quick pace, all the while providing a serious tone. There were a couple of moments that I really liked from a lighting perspective as well. The colors just meshed together almost like a very small lens flare that didn’t feel obnoxious in any sort of way. As far as writing and editing goes, here are my thoughts.

I totally see what people are talking about when it comes to Aaron Sorkin and writing, the two go together like FedEx and that arrow between the “E” and the “x.” What’s that? You didn’t know about the FedEx arrow? Google the FedEx logo and observe it closely. The opening sequence of this film has Molly Bloom talking like I’m listening to what happens when an auctioneer and a motivational speaker combine into a single person. Not only was the diction well done, it was funny, it was informative, and it set a proper tone for the movie. This movie’s based on a book, and I apologize to books, but I never read the book for this film. I don’t know how similar this movie’s introduction is to the book, but if the writing resembles the book here, I’d say this is great writing in general. Props to both Bloom and Sorkin if that’s the case. Still, at the very least, props to Sorkin. I’ve heard a saying that the best directors make the best editors. As far as directing ability goes, this was mostly competent. I have a couple of issues, but this can apply to either the script or the editing instead of just directing.

A couple of shows that really make me uncomfortable are “The Office” and “Modern Family.” I heard a lot of people like both programs. Personally, I can’t watch them. Maybe I’ll give “The Office” a try because I hear a lot of folks talking about it like it’s the greatest thing between Netflix and the idea of Netflix and chill. Also, f*ck Netflix. However I don’t think I can watch “Modern Family” ever again. It’s not only unfunny despite how many people watch it and revered it is, but it’s also shot in a style that tries to make you feel like you’re there, but it just comes off like a student film to me. It almost reminds me of the shaky cam from “The Hunger Games!” “Molly’s Game” is not as bad, it’s not as shaky, it’s not as handheld, it works for what it’s doing. …For the most part. When it comes to editing, this movie cuts way too quickly sometimes. It tries to maintain this very quick style of filmmaking, and it just doesn’t work. I noticed one or two jumpcuts here as well. As far as writing goes, it’s tonally inconsistent. While most of the movie is fast and stays fast, it sometimes just slows down to a point where it’s horribly slow. Throughout the entire film, Jessica Chastain is narrating as Molly Bloom and it almost feels like something that should keep you going towards the edge of your seat. There are moments here that just don’t match what the movie feels like the entire time. It feels like a couple movies meshed into one. It’s like combining one movie, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” with another movie, “Manchester by the Sea,” although it’s a million times happier. The editing combined with the screenplay is like a hotel room with a comfortable bed, no bugs, it’s got a clean carpet, the TV is 4K, everything looks nice, but the toilet isn’t working, the shower’s water system is screwed up, and the sink handles for hot and cold are grungy and hard to operate. It just all needs minor tweaking on perhaps major flaws before absolute perfection.

However let’s move our attention to the best part of the movie, Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom. Some people may go see this movie for a number of reasons. Some people are interested in the story of Molly Bloom, some people like Aaron Sorkin’s writing, and some will say that the cast looks promising. I’ve observed Idris Elba and Kevin Costner in this film, and while both give competent performances, Jessica Chastain trumped them both. If the writing wasn’t excellent enough, this movie had an amazing actress to go off of it. I must say, despite my love for Jessica Chastain, I haven’t seen too many performances from her. However, much like the other movies where I saw Jessica Chastain performing, this is another fine example of how someone should act in a movie. They transform into a different person, and they allow the audience to see them as more than someone on a screen.

In the end, I got to say that “Molly’s Game” is not really a movie that I’d recommend to everyone, but I wouldn’t say to shy away from it either. It’s one of those movies that can impress you in a number of ways, but isn’t entirely screwed together to the point of perfection. I like the acting. I like the directing. I like the writing. However, the movie itself is sloppy when it comes to pacing. At times it wants to accelerate, and at others it wants to drag. There are times where I just nearly wanted to fall asleep, and I must have felt that during the fast parts due to the inconsistency of pacing. Although I will say this, Jessica Chastain f*cking rocks. I’m going to give “Molly’s Game” a 6/10. Thanks for reading this review! On Thursday, I’m going to start off my “Maze Runner” review series by talking about the first installment in the movie franchise, “The Maze Runner,” so look forward to that. Also, depending on what happens, tomorrow I’m going to upload a surprise post. I won’t tell what it is. But January 17th is a special day in my heart. That’ll be your hint. I might not post this, but that’s if I don’t finish it in a certain amount of time. Stay tuned for more reviews and other great content! Did you see “Molly’s Game?” What are your thoughts? How do you think Aaron Sorkin did as a first-time director? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!