Venom – Review

It’s quite fitting that the first movie I review here is about a guy coping with multiple personalities while running around in a mask. One that suspiciously looks like Spider-Man headwear. Okay, before we dive into the Venom review, we need to address the Spidey Elephant in the room. Venom without Spider-Man is like The Joker without Batman. Well, they’re gonna do that soon enough so we can try our best to move past it.

Let’s face it kids, if a person like me who has spent large chunks of his adult life wearing modified Spider-Man masks can get over the altered origin story, you should try too. But I’ll not lie, the film was always going to struggle with such constraints. The problem is Sony losing its balls. Their best Spider-Man was the amazing Andrew Garfield. Had they carried on with those movies, this Venom could have been the proper version.

Instead, we relocate to San Francisco but retain Eddie Brock as a New Yorker. He had to move to get away from some trouble. You know, the trouble of your origin story joining the MCU without you. Thankfully the strong chemistry between the leads, Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams, means we soon forget about webslingers.

What we have is an alien symbiote that needs a host. Evil baddie Carlton Drake is trying to assimilate humans and the aliens, Venom – as he becomes known to us – escapes and chooses Eddie. What follows is decent action and a fun ride. Picture The Mask but with adult violence, superheroes and a good love interest.

It deserves a sequel and hopefully some Sony exec will grow a pair and bring the best Spidey back for a showdown.

7/10

The Revenant – Review

For the second movie review running the delightful Tom Hardy graces the screen. But The Revenant is a Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle. All plaudits and attention have gone to him. After all the hype, thousands of memes fighting to ensure he bagged an Oscar, the dust has settled. What remains in the cold light of day raises a few problems.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, director and screenwriter, hasn’t done a bad job. Let’s get that out of the way. The criticisms that follow are more down to the burden of the film’s own hype. It’s a visual feast and he has captured the harshness of the environment. At times it is a moving canvas. Sadly, a picture here doesn’t paint a thousand words. It just fills in some time before Leo rolls around in the snow and/or dirt again.

That brings us to the leading man. Before we go on, he didn’t deserve an Academy Award for this performance. Yeah, yeah, he did deserve one on his mantelpiece at some point. But not in this turn. At times the suspension of belief asks too much. At others he mumbles through plot holes. Like, literally.

After being mortally wounded after the famous bear scene (I’m sure you’ve all seen the publicity surrounding it) he is left unable to speak (took a nasty scrape to the throat). But he did manage to muster some words for his son when an emotional scene required it. Then he was silent again for an hour.

He also musters up energy when seconds previous he couldn’t raise an eyebrow. It made me raise mine. Numerous other scenes had the same effect. He fell off a mountain but survived the fall thanks to a tree and then copied Han Solo’s survival techniques from the Empire Strikes Back‘s Hoth scene, a whole 160 years before that movie had made its way to cinema screens.

Pointing fun at the film is the only way to not feel saddened at a missed opportunity.

This could have been a modern day Deliverance. Instead it is a film only powerful at times, at others it is more vacuous than the landscape it is set in.

And like his effort in Legend, Tom Hardy once again has a stellar performance overlooked. Last time it was down to a poor script. This time the story is better, but the focus all wrong.

It’s rating is based on the touching scenes, the moral of connection through adversity, Hardy’s contribution, and the visual delights.

7/10

Legend (2015) – Review

Everyone loves a gangster flick. The Americans have a plethora to choose from. It’s debatable if Goodfellas bests The Godfather, or maybe Scarface is more your thing. British efforts are a bit more wide boy and in your face. So what happens if you take a real life British gangster crime story and turn it into a movie?

If you choose to dabble with the most famous of all British gangsters you are dealing with the Kray twins, Ronnie and Reggie. The film you’ll end you with is The Krays from 1990. Hold yer horses, guv. What if we want to make the Krays fit into an Americanised biopic? Ah, should have said. Then you’ll end up 2015’s Legend.

Director Brian Helgeland is better known for his writing credits (L.A. Confidential) but did direct Payback (you may have missed that corker). He has taken the history of the most notorious London criminals and decided the truth shouldn’t get in the way of a good story. Unfortunately, the story of The Krays is good enough. Instead, his fictionalised version of events lacks direction and purpose.

Key moments, like the murders that eventually convicted the twins, are shoehorned into a story narrated by Emily Browning’s Frances Shea. Yeah, that’s right folks, the story is told from the perspective of a ghost whose real life interactions vary depending on which person’s account you believe.

It’s a shame to degrade her input when Browning’s performance is so strong. That is a running theme of the film, cracking performances hidden in a below average flick.

Christopher Eccleston, as always, proves what a versatile actor he is. His hunting as Scotland Yard’s Nipper Read deserved more screen time.

The true star of the show is Tom Hardy. So powerful and diverse are his turns as both twins, it has you believing two separate actors are playing the roles. His appearance here further underlines his place as one of the best performers of this generation.

If only the script could have given Hardy the platform he richly deserved. Instead the movie labours through cockney narration plastered onto a disingenuous wannabe Hollywood background. The result is something that could easily drift to TV movie, if not for the star power on display.

The story only charts the peak years of The Krays’ rule, from cutting deals with Las Vegas bosses to ruling London without opposition. Their downfall was portrayed as an inward problem rather than being taken bested.

Sadly, that sums up the film. It should have been the peak of the boys on camera, an all-star cast and decent budget. Instead it moves them into mediocrity. Often gangster films are criticised for glamorising the lifestyle. No such problem here. It looked pretty mundane through the eyes of Brian Helgeland.

Worth watching to enjoy Tom Hardy, but have a crossword puzzle or a Sudoku on the go for (the many) sections where the film stutters along.

5/10