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!

Capone (2020): Josh Trank Chronicles the Gangster

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“Capone” is directed by Josh Trank (Fantastic Four, Chronicle) and stars Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Dunkirk) as the title character alongside Linda Cardellini (Daddy’s Home, Gravity Falls), Jack Lowden (Dunkirk, Fighting with My Family), Noel Fisher (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shameless), Kyle MacLachlan (Inside Out, Carol’s Second Act), Matt Dillon (There’s Something About Mary, Crash), and Al Sapienza (The Sopranos, Person of Interest). This film is about the famous American gangster, Al Capone, and is set during the last year of his life as he suffers from dementia.

This movie originally released on VOD this past May, and I have waited a little bit to talk about it for several reasons. For one, I took a break for the most part when it comes to movie reviewing during the spring. Also, “Scoob!” was a priority for me. It is an animated film, and I usually tend to review at least five a year now, so I wanted to get one under my belt. I should note that both movies released around the same time.

However, I was shopping inside Best Buy the other day and I came across “Capone,” which had a copy available on Blu-ray. I snatched it when I had the chance, and I popped it in a couple weeks later. For a price of $12.99, I felt that I was getting my money’s worth. After all, when this thing came out, I believe it was $19.99 to rent on VOD, which is still ridiculous to me. By the way, Disney, you’re crazy, and I say that as someone who may want to work with 20th Century in the future. “Mulan” deserves better and so do your customers!

Before I go any further, I should note that “Capone” has a 4.7/10 on IMDb. Given how a lot of the stuff on IMDb happens to be somewhere in the 6 to 8 range, that’s a pretty low score. I will say though, what kind of shocks me here is that this rating does not come from mostly 1s and 2s. Not even 3s. The most common rating for “Capone” is a 5 on IMDb. I’m not gonna give my score just yet. Per usual, we save that for the end. But I can see why 5 would be a common verdict here. This movie really isn’t anything special.

Now, this movie is directed by Josh Trank, who as far as my opinions are concerned has a fairly mixed resume. His movie “Chronicle” released back in 2012, was a fun found footage flick with a neat concept. I think it was pretty well done overall. But in 2015 he directed “Fantastic 4,” which ironically wasn’t even close to fantastic. When I was seeing it at the theater. I missed part of the climax as I was more concerned about getting more popcorn than I was about catching the rest of this movie. When it comes to “Fantastic 4” in particular, I don’t put all the blame on Josh Trank, given how that film was basically made as a quick money grab so Fox could keep the rights from reverting back to Marvel. So even though “Fantastic 4” was not entirely great, it wasn’t exactly earth-shatteringly devastating to watch. As for “Capone,” the same can be said for that movie. It’s by no means the best movie in the world, it’s not a masterpiece, not worth massive attention. It just… exists.

I will say though, and this should not be completely surprising as this movie does come from a smaller studio, this project feels just a tad more personalized coming from a guy like Josh Trank. Maybe there’s some hints of a story formula that become obvious here and there, but if this movie were say, the next “Parasite,” I would be all over Josh Trank right now and completely excited to see whatever he does next. Although I should point out, unlike “Fantastic Four,” Josh Trank actually wrote the screenplay for “Capone” by himself. During the writing process for “Fantastic Four,” he was involved with the screenplay enough to receive a credit. But so were Jeremy Slater and Simon Kinberg.

I do like Tom Hardy’s performance here as Al Capone. One thing for me to consider, based on the other projects where I’ve seen Tom Hardy, such as “Mad Max: Fury Road” or “Venom,” it doesn’t really feel like my typical vision for Tom Hardy himself. It actually feels like he’s playing a character. Although ironically, this movie comes out during the COVID-19 pandemic and this is the one time Tom Hardy plays a character that doesn’t wear a mask. Given his resume, such as the recently mentioned “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Venom,” along with other films including “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Dunkirk,” it feels a little out of the ordinary. I’m not complaining, it’s just something I noticed.

I should note that I watched this movie on Monday, August 3rd. This gave me plenty of time to gather my thoughts for a review. Unfortunately, the little that I do fully remember about this movie does not say enough for this movie to have a lasting impact. Yes, I did feel bad for Al Capone given how he was going through some health issues. There’s definitely a reason to get attached to such a character. Although, I’m gonna use this phrase once again, this movie doesn’t really have the oomph factor to push it over the edge. Do I care for Al Capone here? Sure. But will I care for him in a week when I move on to the next movie? That’s hard to say. This movie has some great dialogue exchanges between characters that make you somewhat emotionally attached, but I don’t feel like I’m going to remember anybody’s name in this film except maybe Al Capone because he’s on the flipping title of the movie for crying out loud!

For the most part, I do think Josh Trank’s “Capone,” kind of like the last movie I reviewed, “Gretel & Hansel,” is a competent production. I think the location choices were suitable, I like the casting, and getting Tom Hardy to play the lead role is a fine mix of name recognition and talent. I will say one thing though as a compliment compared to “Gretel & Hansel.” “Capone” was more entertaining in its span of a hundred and three minutes, compared to “Gretel & Hansel” in its span of eighty seven minutes. Sometimes, it goes to show… A movie is as long as the viewer makes it. “Gretel & Hansel” in this case, maybe took a million more years to get through. I was entertained by “Capone,” but I don’t think I’ll watch it again in the near future.

In the end, “Capone” is not… Terrible, but to call it next level material or even “good” would be a lie. It’s just some extended series of scenes that may or may not be a waste of time depending on your mood. I think there was some effort put into it, but again, there’s no lasting impact for me to remember this film forever. Maybe if I watched the film in a theater, who knows? It could be experiential, but I didn’t. I saw it at home… Where we are stuck for the rest of our lives… End this pandemic… I’m going to give “Capone” a 5/10. I will say, the rating could jump to a 6/10 as there were some entertaining parts. But when seeing a brief moment of “The Wizard of Oz” was the most fascinating part of “Capone,” that’s kind of a problem. It was a good scene, but still.

Thanks for reading this review! This weekend I’m planning on seeing “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” a new movie that is only playing in theaters. Can’t believe I’m saying that! This film is about an art dealer trying to steal a painting and the mission suddenly goes out of control. Sounds like a work of art.

*Cricket noises*

Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Capone?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Tom Hardy performance? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Christopher Nolan: The Bright Auteur Rises

WARNING: The following post is a piece of college work based on months of research. As you may know, I, Jack Drees, continue to operate Scene Before every day for a general audience and film lovers everywhere, dedicating time to film reviews, news updates, countdowns, and my general opinion on various matters. If this post sounds abnormal or differing in style, it is due to an attempt to follow guidelines in order to achieve a positive grade in my class. Thanks for your attention, enjoy the post! 

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! For the past few years on Scene Before, you, my viewers, have been exposed to a variety of film reviews, four of which are for movies directed by Christopher Nolan. For a portion of my life, I have practically been an evangelical towards his work, and if you followed this blog for some time, you’d know that. Today, however, I would like to take the opportunity to discuss something that some of you might find to be a con when it comes to Nolan. If you know about Nolan’s statistics, you’d know he generally receives extremely positive reviews, in fact the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score he received for a film he directed was a 72%. This and other factors have solidified Nolan as a filmmaking powerhouse and an auteur with an unusual amount of power.

Film buffs happen to know that Nolan is dedicated to his craft and will do a film his way, which to him, is his absolute preference. Think of Nolan as a newer incarnation of Steven Spielberg or George Lucas. In fact, as I personally watch his movies, I happen to find a similar vibe between all of them, even if they aren’t in a linked franchise or have completely different storylines. For example, Nolan’s scripts tend to have a main character who is a white male with darker hair, because diversity is totally, without objection, a top priority. Speaking of repetition, Nolan often inserts a wife character in some way who will eventually meet her fate with death. Nolan’s trademarks also include puzzle-like plots, tons of practical effects, and relying on film stock. In fact, relying on film stock is not just a trademark for Nolan, but it’s a lifestyle.

In an age where people lack the attention span to pick up a paper case, open it, and insert a media file into a player (unless you’re me, as proven above), it is almost surprising that film stock is still a thing.

But based on the efforts of Christopher Nolan and other directors including Quentin Tarantino, it is still thriving for a select number of directors, cinematographers, and movie theaters. As more and more theaters switch to digital projection, Nolan still had no problem with releasing his films the way he intended in certain areas. After all, these are his creations, not anyone else’s. Nolan and his recent films such as Interstellar and Dunkirk have surfaced in the news because they released either on 35mm or 70mm film. Digital projection, which Nolan and others see as inferior, has gotten an enormous boost thanks to the release of James Cameron’s Avatar in 2009. This is partially due to its use of 3D, which is primarily shot digitally (unless there are certain cases of post-conversion), which Nolan has yet to use for any of his films, even for cases like The Dark Knight Rises, released in 2012, a time when post-conversion to 3D was a new and popular fad and 3D Blu-rays were still being made for American audiences. Speaking of movie gimmicks, Nolan also broke ground by being the first director to shoot a Hollywood feature with IMAX cameras.

If the IMAX experience has proven anything aside from the fact that consumers are willing to pay extra money to watch Spider-Man shoot a web into their faces, it has proven that Christopher Nolan changed moviemaking by shooting The Dark Knight on what is theoretically the highest quality format for a motion picture. Nolan shot The Dark Knight with select scenes, about thirty minutes of footage to be precise, on IMAX film. IMAX’s film stock is technically 65mm film, but unlike traditional cameras of that sort, IMAX’s film camera holds film that goes horizontal as opposed to vertical. Nolan’s IMAX footage covered its brand-specific screens from floor to ceiling during the film’s theatrical run, which then carried over to the film’s Blu-ray release. Speaking of carrying over, Nolan’s pioneering efforts allowed directors like Michael Bay and Zack Snyder to create films of their own using IMAX-shot footage.

The reality is, Christopher Nolan, above all, is not necessarily a filmmaker, he’s an auteur. While people who worked with him managed to point out his calmness on set, Nolan also embodies the qualities of a filmmaker who needs to get his way. Luckily for Nolan, he has had successes from his previous films which allow him to make whatever kind of film he wants. Much like how the franchise name Star Wars is likely to get people to watch a movie, even with a character like Jar Jar Binks, the director name, Christopher Nolan, is likely to do the same. This is even during cases where Nolan does a movie that doesn’t base itself on a popular or preexisting franchise. Inception, Nolan’s first film after The Dark Knight, grossed over $800 million at the box office. Interstellar, which came out four years after Inception, managed to make under $700 million.

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There is also an argument to make is that Nolan’s freedom and control comes from family roots. Aside from directing, Nolan often receives credits for writing and producing on the same films. After all, Auteur Theory, developed in the 20th century, gives cases like these as support for a director being the film’s author per se. In fact, one of his scripts is based on a short story from his brother, Jonathan Nolan, but since Christopher claims the director’s chair, he is obviously receiving more attention. Speaking of which, Nolan has a wife by the name of Emma Thomas who often works alongside him. Most of the projects where they worked together had Nolan as the director and Thomas as a producer. While this is not technically family, Nolan has managed to release almost every single one of his films (at least internationally) under the Warner Brothers label. In fact, he is not stopping, because his next film, set to release in July 2020 starring John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman) is also from Warner Brothers. Wait a minute… What happened to the white dude cliche? I’m intrigued…

To link common roots even further, followers are also aware that Nolan often recruits the same people to work on his films. Aside from his family members, he has done three films with Tom Hardy, five films with Cillian Murphy, and for each film Nolan has directed since 2005 (Batman Begins), Michael Caine had an appearance in every single one of them. Such a correlation between Nolan and Caine for example can be traced through relationships between other directors and the actors they have worked with. Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. for example had an ongoing relationship that has been present through their work on films like Iron Man and Chef. Another auteur often pointed out, Tim Burton, has a significant business relationship with Johnny Depp based on their collaborations during Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice In Wonderland (2010), and Corpse Bride.

If Nolan had not succeeded, developed business relationships, had family by his side, or ignored his individuality and developed a cookie cutter style that didn’t particularly pertain to him, chances are he wouldn’t have the success he does today. I love Christopher Nolan, but there is no denying that part of why I love him so much is due to his position which he practically earned. He, unlike other directors, has the ability to make whatever films they please with little to no interference from others, including studios. While the film industry as a whole has an ideology of saying that big, known franchises, and expensive, perhaps disposable films with tons of special effects are the ones that make money. Nolan steps up to the plate and doesn’t exactly cheapen the filmmaking process, nor does he ignore preexisting material, but he makes all of the material his own, which is part of why audiences like me continue to support him.

Thanks for reading this post! If you want to see more from Scene Before, be sure to follow either with a WordPress account or email! Once you hit that follow button, be sure to stay tuned for more content like my upcoming reviews for “Shazam” and “Long Shot.” I also recently scored some passes for the “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” remake, or more specifically, “The Hustle.” So I might check that out next week depending on whether I get someone to go with me because I actually have a +1 on my pass. But let’s face it, you guys don’t care about those movies, because according to quite literally every movie-related site in existence, everybody cares about “Avengers: Endgame.” It’s what all the cool kids are talking about, even if it was made for a nerdy demographic. If you want to see my SPOILER-FREE review of the film, feel free to click the link below and check it out! Again, follow Scene Before if you haven’t already and be sure to stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, who is your favorite auteur director? Also, what is your favorite Christopher Nolan movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Avengers: Endgame Review! (NO SPOILERS!)

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!

Dunkirk (2017): A Bloodless, Yet Realistic Depiction of War

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Now before we begin my review for “Dunkirk,” I want to remind you that this movie is playing in several formats all over the world. If you want more information on that or if you want help on deciding how or where you should see the movie, I’ve got a couple links down below. The first link is to a post I did about a month ago concerning this movie, and if you aren’t satisfied with that, the second link is to a Vox article on the same topic, and personally, even though the first link is my own work, I will admit I think the Vox article does a better job on showcasing all of its information and including all of the necessary details whereas I might leave certain things out or focus on certain ideas more than others, so make your pick. Nevertheless, both of these are informative reads and don’t worry, neither of these contain spoilers for “Dunkirk.” Anyway, on with the review!

MY POST: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/why-dunkirk-must-be-seen-on-35mm-film-70mm-film-imax-70mm-film-or-imax-laser/

VOX ARTICLE: https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/7/19/15985474/dunkirk-explainer-format-imax-digital-70mm-35mm-buy-ticket

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“Dunkirk” is directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Interstellar), one of my favorite directors of all time. The movie has characters played by Fionn Whitehead (Him), Aneurin Barnard (War & Peace, Citadel), Kenneth Branagh (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Henry V), Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road), Mark Rylance (The BFG, Bridge of Spies), Barry Keoghan (Rebellion, ’71), Jack Lowden (Denial, The Tunnel), Tom Glynn-Carney, and Harry Styles, which if you’re a dad and you have a teenage daughter, there’s a chance to your misfortune that she probably dragged you to a concert he has performed at one point.

This movie is based on a true story which took place during World War II. Basically, the entire movie revolves around a battle which the Allied soldiers of Britain, Belgium, and France are surrounded by the Germans. At this time, the Allies are trying to flee away from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk, France.

If there’s one thing I was anticipating about this film, perhaps near the top of list of things to anticipate in this film, it was the experience itself. This movie was shot partially with IMAX cameras and the rest was shot with standard 65mm cameras. No matter where this movie was going to be shown, it was probably gonna end up looking beautiful based on footage I witnessed before going to see this film in the theater, but if it was shown on a high quality projector, it might just be like looking at something with a naked eye. Now I saw this movie at a theater which is over an hour away from my house, it’s an IMAX theater and it’s located in Providence, RI, and I went for a number of reasons. To see the film the way Christopher Nolan intended, to see the film on film, and possibly catch details that my friends seeing this movie at a standard theater like AMC, Regal, Showcase, Carmike, Warren, Cinemark, Alamo Drafthouse, or Santikos won’t see if they actually happen to check out this movie at a theater like that. As I’m writing this review, not only do I recommend you see this movie on film, preferably on higher quality film, if you see this in digital, unless it’s IMAX probably, especially laser, you may as well be missing out on a film experience to remember. Because this may be in my top 5 (wild guess) movie experiences, based on picture and sound, I’ve ever encountered. Regardless of what you think of this movie in terms of content or story, this will definitely be something to remember based on senses. Also, if you want a link to where you can find all of the theaters playing the movie in 70mm, including IMAX, here’s a link to where you can find them, and I’ll give credit to these guys because the image displayed above showing a format comparison, that’s something I found in this link.

http://nofilmschool.com/2017/07/christopher-nolan-dunkirk-70mm-release

Before going into the theater, I’ve seen a number of a reviews for this film, and one complaint I’ve often heard is the lack of characterization in this film. Now, THAT IS TRUE, there is a lack of characterization. But you know what? I don’t f*cking care! Because believe it or not, it actually works! Let’s face it, this is a film about war, this is a film about survival. There’s action throughout the ENTIRE movie, not to mention this is based on true events. I can imagine some people talked with others during this scenario a little bit, but I think there aren’t many times when someone makes friends or just has time to chit chat when they’re in the middle of a big, loud battle of a war. Don’t get me wrong, characterization can work in movies, but not every movie needs it. And there definitely have been times where it didn’t work. Just look at the “Star Wars” prequels! I got to say, this is one of those movies I really appreciate, even though I barely know anybody’s name or much of their background aside from which side they’re on.

This paragraph is gonna focus one of my biggest fears going into this film, and then I’m gonna drift off track a bit, then we’ll get back into gear. You may be curious, what is this big fear? Well, ladies and gentlemen, that fear happened to be, Harry Styles. If you don’t know who Harry Styles is, he’s actually never acted in a movie before. He’s done few things prior to “Dunkirk” in terms of acting, but ultimately, he hasn’t really done that much. What does he typically do? Well, if you are aware of the boy band, One Direction, Styles is actually a singer-songwriter for the band. I have NO INTEREST in One Direction, in fact I’m not a teenage girl who has posters of hunks in his room. I’m a teenage boy with posters of superheroes in his room. On the topic of teenage fangirls going into this movie, many of them, based on tweets I read, were looking forward to see Styles on the big screen. In fact, when they were watching this in the theater, apparently they thought to themselves, and this is, in writing, my very own Harry Styles fangirl impression: “OMG! GIVE THAT HUNKY HARRY ALL THE OSCARS! 😍💞” Based on this evidence before going to the theater, I honestly thought this was pure fangirling, although at the same time maybe they were complimenting his performance. I’m not insinuating every Harry Styles fangirl will like something just because Harry Styles is in it, maybe some do, I don’t know, but this did sound like pure fangirling. Now I will admit, I’m a fanboy in many aspects. I’m a fanboy of “Spider-Man,” “Star Wars,” “King of the Nerds,” Christopher Nolan, IMAX, JK Simmons, “Portal,” Howie Mandel, Curtis Armstrong, Robert Carradine, Gal Gadot, and many game shows. Although as a fanboy, believe it or not, I don’t automatically fully appreciate something just because there’s something specific attached to it. I might fully appreciate something if there’s something specific DONE RIGHT attached to it. What do I mean? For “Star Wars,” something I consider done right for example is the most recent film in the franchise, “Rogue One,” and something I consider wrong in the franchise is “The Phantom Menace.” For Gal Gadot, I think she’s sexy, I love her as Wonder Woman, and I will even say she partially saved “Batman v. Superman” from being a total catastrophe, although she was in the movie “Criminal” which came out in 2016, which was rather underwhelming, she was alright in it though.

Sticking with the original topic, how was Styles in this movie? He wasn’t bad at all, as far as his performance went, fangirls, this your warning to keep your cool, it didn’t stand out. I’m not complaining when I say that, but you also have to consider who else was cast in this movie. And I’m not saying they were better, OK, I actually am saying that, but that’s not my point. My point is that you have a lot of characters in this movie, and they were mostly white males with similar hairstyles. You may as well also consider the whole characterization thing I mentioned not long ago, the fact that Harry hasn’t done acting all that much, and performances across the board had many similarities. Besides, this movie revolved around men at war. By the way, out of all the Harry Styles look-a-likes in this movie, I gotta say Fionn Whitehead probably gave the best performance out of all of them. After seeing this movie though, I will say I wouldn’t mind seeing Harry Styles in more movies. His acting is certainly better than his singing. Then again, I’ll mention, I’M TEENAGE BOY, WHAT CAN I SAY? Although I gotta say there is a performance that stood out to me.

The guy on the left, Tom Glynn-Carney played a character in this film. It may be the red sweater talking, I don’t know, but I liked his performance. It felt really authentic, I felt like I was at a doctor’s office going into some medical procedure and the doctor said to me, “Don’t worry sir, you’ll be alright,” although in reality he’s about to shove some crap inside me I can’t even describe, and probably don’t even want to describe. I’m not saying that’s how his character was in the movie, it’s just what his character, performance-wise, reminded me of.

Since I’m bringing up fears I had going into this film on this post, I’ll bring up more. Another fear I had, is the fact that the film was PG-13. This wasn’t really a huge fear of mine, but it was still there. In films containing some sort of war such as “Saving Private Ryan” or “The Patriot,” you might expect some blood, therefore contributing to the R rating. Although then again “Lord of the Rings” has a lot of war in it and yet for what I recall that barely has any blood. In fact the extended edition of “Return of the King” is actually said to have the highest body count ever recorded in a movie. After seeing this movie, the sound, the effects, the atmosphere, and the performances all felt realistic. There wasn’t much blood, I did see some, but it wasn’t all that much and it wasn’t moving. By the way, if you watch this movie, look forward to the dogfights, seeing this in full frame IMAX from first person perspective is as the kids call it now, lit. I’ll even go as far as to say that these moments in first person are actually more fun to watch than the entirety of “Hardcore Henry,” and that movie was basically in first person from beginning to end!

Speaking of the film’s highlights, Hans Zimmer scored this film. If you ask me, it’s hard to choose a favorite movie composer, however, it is easy to say which movie was composed best out of all the ones I’ve seen. That to me, would be “Interstellar,” also directed by Christopher Nolan and composed by Hans Zimmer. Now this is the seventh project these two have worked on together, and yes, I’m also including “Man of Steel” even though Nolan didn’t direct it. He did write and produce it though. I’ve seen a lot of films these two have done and I’m impressed with a lot of their work. “Dunkirk’s” soundtrack, much like others I’ve heard from Zimmer, along with all the sound I heard in this movie, made my ears have orgasms! Is the music exactly hummable? I wouldn’t say so, however if I listen to it a few times, I might have it down. Although it was awesome nevertheless. This score also does something you might hear in the “Interstellar” and “Inception” scores. If you pay close attention when watching the movie or when listening to the soundtrack, you may hear ticking and tocking. It’s almost as if it’s saying that time is not on the side of the hero. Although when it comes to displaying time, “Interstellar” does that best out of these three scores, which is saying something since the “Inception” soundtrack has a song literally called “Time.”

One of my personal favorite one word movie quotes comes from “The Matrix,” and it’s Keanu Reeves’s character of Neo saying “Whoa.” And BOY was I uttering that throughout the movie. Although when I said “whoa,” it was more of a soft exclamation than a declaration. I mentioned I love how this movie was presented in terms of clarity and how it was shot, but I also love the sound. The first bullet that goes off in this movie, literally set me up for nonstop action and motivated me for what’s to come. The sound overall felt real, especially the bombs and planes. This is just a fraction of the incredible immersion I felt from this astoundingly audible and picture perfect film.

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In the end, I enjoyed the crap out of this movie. I don’t watch many war films, but this is one of those films, that was a visual experience. I’ve had many of these films which I came across throughout my lifetime. There’s “Interstellar” (YES, I’M MENTIONING IT AGAIN, I’M SORRY, IT’S THAT GOOD OF A MOVIE), “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Matrix,” “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” “Gravity,” “La La Land,” the entire “Lord of the Rings” saga, and “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.” There’s very little dialogue, you don’t really get to know the characters, and while many other movies or TV shows work because you get to know the characters, this movie works because you DON’T get to know the characters. The technical aspects in this movie AUTOMATICALLY make me want to run all the way back to the theater to see this again! This is one of the LOUDEST movies I’ve witnessed in my life! I want to buy the Blu-Ray, although if there’s a 4K edition I’ll probably snatch that. What else can I say except, Christopher Nolan has done it again! This is not my favorite flick from Nolan, but it is certainly some of his best work. I’m gonna give “Dunkirk” a 9/10. I’m giving this a 9 because this is a movie that I would HIGHLY recommend. Definite seal of approval from me! The characters aren’t developed, but I don’t care, because given the situations the characters are facing throughout the movie, it was enough for me to root for them. And I’ll say, this MIGHT, and I say MIGHT jump to a 10 later. It’ll probably depend on the movie’s replay value and if I pick up on any details I may have missed the first time I watched this movie, and part of me is willing to bet I did miss something. Also, PLEASE SEE THIS IN A THEATER IN THE LARGEST FORMAT POSSIBLE OR ON FILM. Don’t pirate this movie, don’t wait for Netflix, this film IS worth your money. Thanks for reading this review, as you can obviously tell, I really appreciated the movie, and right now I might put this in my top 5 best of the year. As far as upcoming reviews go, pretty soon I’m gonna try to see “Atomic Blonde” or “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” Stay tuned for those reviews if I ever get around to them, and I hope I can get those out soon. …Wait a sec, I feel like I’m forgetting something… Oh right, that piece of crap. If you want me to see the horse’s ass I like to call “The Emoji Movie,” leave a comment with the hashtag #GOSCREWYOURSELFEMOJIMOVIE and while it’s not guaranteed I’ll see it, the chances of me seeing it will definitely increase the more users I see commenting. Leave a comment if that’s something that interests you.

Also, if you are interested in Christopher Nolan much like myself, or if you want to know my thoughts on his movies, be sure to check out my reviews for “Interstellar,” “Inception,” and “Insomnia.” The links are down below, check those out, and stay tuned for more reviews! I hope to see this movie again, hopefully in the theater, I know a theater close to my house is playing this in 70mm film and another is playing it in IMAX laser, we’ll see what happens! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

“INCEPTION” REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/inception-2010-beyond-your-wildest-dreams/

“INSOMNIA” REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/07/11/insomnia-2002-a-movie-thats-better-the-second-time-watching-it/

“INTERSTELLAR” REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/07/04/interstellar-a-beautiful-intense-breathtaking-brilliant-sci-fi-marvel/

Inception (2010): Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Welcome, one and all to the final review in my series of Christopher Nolan films leading up to “Dunkirk.” Before we begin, let’s just get one thing out of the way. If you want to read the reviews for other Christopher Nolan films I’ve done, the links to them are down below so if you want to read those, go ahead. These reviews are for “Interstellar” and “Insomnia,” which is kinda funny. Every title of a movie I reviewed directed by Christopher Nolan, including this upcoming review, starts with “In.” Anyway, the links are down below.

“INTERSTELLAR” (2014) REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/07/04/interstellar-a-beautiful-intense-breathtaking-brilliant-sci-fi-marvel/

“INSOMNIA” (2002) REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/07/11/insomnia-2002-a-movie-thats-better-the-second-time-watching-it/

Today, we’re gonna be talking about a highly appreciated film of Christopher Nolan’s, that my friends, is “Inception.” Fun fact about Christopher Nolan if you never happened to be aware, a lot of his movies are considered to be instant classics, and if you look at the top 250 movies on IMDb, a number of Nolan’s movies make the list. These films include “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Memento,” “The Prestige,” “Interstellar,” and “The Dark Knight,” which is actually in the top 4 below “The Godfather Part II,” “The Godfather,” and “The Shawshank Redemption.” If you didn’t know, “Inception” is yet another one of those movies. What do I think of it? Find out in my review!

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“Inception” as uttered recently, is directed by Christopher Nolan and it stars Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, The Departed), Joseph Gordon-Levitt ((500) Days of Summer, G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra), Ellen Page (Juno, Hard Candy), Ken Watanabe (Batman Begins, The Last Samurai), Tom Hardy (Star Trek: Nemesis, Layer Cake), Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later…, Batman Begins), Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose, Nine), Tom Berenger (Training Day, October Road), and Michael Caine (The Prestige, The Cider House Rules).

This film is about a guy who can take the ideas of others, and he’s able to do that with dream-sharing technology. At one point, he’s told that he must implant in idea in the mind of a CEO. If you look this movie up on IMDb, that’s basically the gist of the film, but to me, this film is about a lot more than just that.

If you remember my review for “Interstellar,” I mention there that it’s a movie that has a high replay value. I don’t rewatch this movie as much, but I still enjoy it. In fact, the first time I watched it, probably around the end of 2014, I recall falling asleep. Granted it was late, but still, I fell asleep. Then I gave it another chance in 2016, I was blown away. Now it’s 2017, I’m still blown away. In my review for “Interstellar,” I uttered that it’s a movie that everyone should watch at least once. That’s also the case with this movie. Rewatching this movie, I was glued to the screen. In fact, one of the reasons I consider “Interstellar” to be so likable is how well it has aged, I know it just came out, but still. In fact, now, I like it better than I did when I first saw the movie. It took me a while to grasp some of the things the movie was going for, or at least fully appreciate them. Almost every single time I watch the movie, I either find something I haven’t seen before, or become engaged throughout. Having watched this movie less, I still wonder if there’s a missing link that is keeping me from appreciating it more, although that would be saying something because there’s already lots I appreciate about this flick. We’ll dive into more about that later by the way.

Before we get into anything else, look at this image. This is from one of the first shots in the entire movie, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character of Cobb is lying down on sand, waves are coming in, and you can see his hair is a bit wet. When I first saw this during my recent rewatch I instantly thought this, and I’m not saying this is a negative because it does sound like something you’d hear on “Mystery Science Theater,” I said, “Oh, Jack survived!” If you ever saw James Cameron’s “Titanic,” which also has Leonardo DiCaprio playing the lead male, you’d definitely get my point. Speaking of which, let’s talk about his character in general.

Cobb is essentially the main dude who steals the ideas of others through dreams, and the way I see his character at times in this movie is the same way I see a professor. Not to say he’s boring or anything, it works. This is shown very well during the beginning of the film, especially during the sequence when he’s talking to Ellen Page’s character of Ariadne at the cafe. At times Cobb reminded me of a scientist as well, and that comparison can be shown with a conversation he has after Ellen Page vanishes from a room. When I think of certain aspects of this character and put them on a list, it almost seems as if this character has no weight. Although that’s not true. There’s a part of this movie dedicated to his relationship to Marion Cotillard’s character of Mal, and particular aspects of said relationship made me care so much for Cobb as a character. By the way, I love Mal’s voice in this movie.

I don’t hear many conversations about this movie in real-life, although if there are conversations about this movie in real-life, I’m a frequent person who starts those conversations, and one thing I usually don’t talk about in this movie is the action. This movie has one of the coolest action sequences I’ve ever seen in my life! I won’t go into detail, but there’s this one sequence where some characters are in a hotel hallway, and it starts rotating, it’s almost like a video game!

Fun fact about this film, there is actually a character in this film who goes by the name of Yusuf. He’s played by Dileep Rao, whose face you may recognize if you’ve seen “Drag Me to Hell” or “Avatar.” But I’m gonna give a little backstory about me before watching this movie. Dileep Rao interests me as an actor because while my first encounter with this guy was in the movie “Avatar” when I watched it in the theater, his name latched onto me in a different way. As you may know, I’m a nerd, and part of that has to do with my love for game shows. One of my favorite game shows, and I believe it’s a choice you’d all agree upon, is “Jeopardy!.” With that being said, Rao’s first ever TV appearance was on “Jeopardy!.” Not only that, but he also won a game. He appeared on the program in 2002, and his episodes aired on June 7th and June 10th. His total winnings are $34,400 along with an extra $1,000 as a consolation prize for when he lost. I saw his games on YouTube and I recall the description of the video saying he was in “Avatar” and that helped me recall his name. Overall, he gives a decent performance in this movie. As the movie is coming towards its end, he plays a key role.

If you have seen a number of movies before, you may have judged it for its lack of logic as a criticism. Here though, it actually works. It’s explained throughout the movie, that dreams can create things that are impossible to create, and I can believe that. I can probably remember some of my dreams and they’re not all realistic to the highest extent. The lack of logic in this movie sometimes ends up partially contributing to the plot and makes the movie more enjoyable as a whole, it’s like a superhero movie except nobody really has any superpowers. In fact, I’m gonna give you a little story about my life. I live near a number of shopping centers, and one of them is the Burlington Mall in Burlington, MA, otherwise known as one of the filming locations for the 2009 comedy “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.” Now that mall had some changes over the years, but around the early 2000’s, probably around when I was four or something, I always had a dream that I was going into a mall that basically resembled the Burlington Mall, the floor pattern in the mall, at least on the first floor was different to what it looked like back in the day along with how it looks now. In fact, it almost looks similar to a floor pattern that used to be in Roosevelt Field in Garden City, NY, I never went to that mall, I just know about it. As far as the second story’s floor pattern goes, I can’t exactly tell you if it was similar to how it was before its renovation during the 2000s, but I’m not sure. In fact, if you have ever been inside the Burlington Mall, you might walk towards the center and notice a bank of two scenic elevators, not only did they look different in the dream, they looked different from each other. One of them I recall having a single slide door, as opposed to reality in which case both elevators have two-speed doors, and one of them was something I can’t even describe. Partially because it’s hard to remember to the most supreme detail, and it sounds totally impractical. It was like the size of a trampoline, and you could probably see inside the shaft and it was pretty big. Also, I recall multiple times, I went outside the mall in my dreams and there was a McDonald’s or something, I believe I was at the mall with somebody, probably with a stuffed duck I had and actually still have today, #nostalgia. The voice of the person by my side spoke to me saying the McDonald’s was gonna blow away, and the McDonald’s actually blowing away, or at least the roof, one or the other, is something I remember happening. That popping in my head must have been an effect from watching something on TV as a child which a house blows away. I don’t recall what it was, if you ever seen something on TV which a house blows away, can you please leave a comment as to what it is?

One thing I noticed in this movie that I didn’t notice any other time while watching it is something that shocked me to the core. There’s this one scene where Cobb is interacting with Cillian Murphy’s character of Robert Fischer, Robert’s told to give the first six digits that pop in his head. These digits are important to the overall plot of the film. The digits are 5, 2, 8, 4, 9, 1. This movie plays around with those numbers a lot. In fact there are a few Easter eggs I noticed with these numbers I didn’t even realize existed until my recent watch. Just watch the scenes in the hotel and see what I mean.

Like a good chunk of Christopher Nolan films, the score done here was composed by Hans Zimmer. There are so many great themes that are actually stuck in my mind after watching this movie and there wasn’t a bad moment when it came to the movie’s music. In fact, when it came to the finale, the music was almost getting me to the point to making me want to bite my nails. By the way, the finale was not only epic and raised the stakes, I gotta say when it comes to editing, this is one of the best edited finales I’ve ever seen in my life.

One of the biggest motifs I noticed throughout this movie had to do with trains. There’s at least one moment through each of the movie’s acts that a train appears. In fact, one of those moments made the movie suddenly become more of a masterpiece, by the way, I’m not gonna get into it, although if you know what I’m talking about, it has to do with a quote with these words in it: “You’re waiting for a train.” Also, a little sidenote, when I was watching this movie once, there’s one moment in the beginning when Cobb says “I don’t like trains.” I just spoke to my screen saying, “Well you aren’t my friend!”

I’ll be completely honest, when it comes to the movie “Inception,” it’s really hard to talk about everything. Because there are some details that I want to talk about that are in spoiler territory, and when it comes to the characters, I wouldn’t say they are weak, but I would also say when watching this movie, I got more out of Cobb’s character as opposed to anyone else and everyone else is just there for the ride. However, this movie does blow my mind and that’s enough for me to say, this movie in its own way, is a masterpiece.

In the end, I’d say “Inception” is definitely worth a watch. This is definitely some of Christopher Nolan’s finest work. There are definitely occasions which I will find myself watching this movie again and I gotta say on a sidenote, I love the effects in this movie. This movie feels totally original and I believe it may have contributed to maybe some ideas used in Marvel’s “Doctor Strange.” Yes, that movie’s based on a comic book that came out long before it, but still. I’m gonna give “Inception” a 10/10. I mentioned some of the characters feel like they’re put in the background, although I don’t really think it’s a terrible thing. The overall plot doesn’t entirely revolve around them, they are there experiencing an adventure much like Cobb is. This is a movie that I feel can’t be recreated, and if it ever is recreated, it can’t top what’s shown in this flick. Thanks for reading this review, I’m gonna have my review for “Dunkirk” out pretty soon. If I don’t go see it this weekend, hopefully I can see “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” which is based on a graphic novel series of a similar name. Also, I’m not sure when this will happen, but my mother and I have plans to go see Kumail Nanjiani’s new movie, “The Big Sick.” I’m not sure when I’ll see it, but we have agreed to go see it nevertheless. Stay tuned for more upcoming reviews, thanks for sticking with me throughout my series of Christopher Nolan reviews, and I’m super excited for “Dunkirk” right now! Also, remember, stay tuned for more review series if the opportunity comes up to make them. For example, in September, Tom Cruise has a new film coming out called “American Made,” so I might review some Tom Cruise films beforehand. We’ll see what happens! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!