Showing posts with label tom hardy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tom hardy. Show all posts

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Venom (2018) Makes Comic Book Movies Fun Again

Venom Movie Review
Sony Pictures
Why so serious comic book genre? This is the big question that pops up in my mind over the intense division, even backlash, over Venom. Sony's latest attempt at their own comic book universe is an unexpected detour from the expected adaptations we've seen over the years, and reminds us of how the genre used to be: purely fun for fun's sakes. Venom's splash of action, sci-fi, and rom-com is not the most traditional story of its kind, and that works both for and against the film.

Humankind is depleting all of its natural resources. So much so that it's gonna need a better planet. Creator and inventor of the Life Foundation Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) uses his spaceships to bring back aliens known as symbiotes with the hopes of finding human hosts, but they’re deadlier and dangerous than even his multi-million dollar corporation ever planned for. Enter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), an investigative journalist who uncovers shady dealings with Drake’s corporation and inadvertently becomes the host of a violent symbiote called Venom. Forced to act as a hybrid, Eddie and Venom work together to take down the Life Foundation.

Venom is an absurd comic book movie that embraces how absurd it is, and honestly, the pure joy of the film comes out of its leading performance by Hardy. Already having a reputation for going all in for his characters, he makes no shift in changing his methods now, and here it really works – he’s not only playing Eddie but gives Venom his voice and comically, awkwardly, and believably acts like there’s an alien taking over his body - it's some of the best, and most importantly playful (and not method-esque performances) he’s ever given. As much as the film includes the typical CGI combat scenes between the two of them against Drake's cronies, there are a few set pieces of Eddie fighting his body's reaction to Venom's invasion and embracing Venom until they end up creating a weird bond of compromise and trust. Their arc from enemies to frenemies and friends is one of the best on-screen relationships to come along in a long time, especially in the "superhero" genre. It’s almost impossible to think that another actor could’ve carried the film as entertaining as he does.

Following behind Hardy is the supporting cast who aren’t “bad” in any sense of the word, but in comparison to Hardy don’t have as much to carry in terms of showy performances or transformations. Riz Ahmed as Drake is sort of your typical Marvel villain as a rich inventor who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, but Ahmed is charismatic and tries to rise above some of the cliche tropes his character has. More minor characters are filled in nicely: Jenny Slate as one of the few doctors who questions the lengths Drake is willing to go to; Celphas Jones as Eddie’s steely boss are fine the roles that they have; Reid Scott as a doctor who tries to help Eddie. The only casting that felt out-of-place was Michelle Williams as Eddie's girlfriend Anne; she's well-balanced as stuck between loving or leaving Eddie, but the chemistry between herself and Hardy didn’t quite gel - I had a hard time trying not to imagine someone else in the role.

Therein lies a small crux to Venom: it entirely rests on Hardy’s beefy shoulders. If his performance works for you, it’s guaranteed to be a good time; if it doesn’t, well, the whole film falls apart.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) excels on all cylinders

Mad Max: Fury Road movie review
Photo Credit: Mad Max Fury Road / Warner Bros Pictures
Re-imagined from the 1980s cult series, creator George Miller sets a new standard for old dogs being given a new life in Mad Max: Fury Road. Utilizing what he didn't have nearly thirty years ago, Miller amplifies his recreation - stunts, music, shooting locations, cast, and script - to the max.

Across a dry, broken wasteland, we are thrust into a good ole fashion cat-and-mouse chase. But this showdown isn't an ode to Tom and Jerry cartoons.  Dropkicked into a post-apocalyptic world, desert buries any semblance of society as we know it. Gas and water are the new currency, and everyone has gone mad.

Immortan Joe is a ruthless God whose followers worship the steering wheel, imprison innocent people to be his blood donors, and will do anything to reach immortality. Straddled to huge trucks are his furious warriors on teetering poles and done-up battle cars. Their war songs blare from flame-throwing guitar players and drummers. Rebels Max (Tom Hardy), Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and Joe's precious brides try to outrun his troupe through onslaughts of motorcycle mavens, dictators of other territories, and the barren environment that's destroyed everything.

Tucked inside all of the heart-pounding action are inviting moments of insight into our heroes. Max suffers nightmares and hallucinations of his former life filled with unspeakable terrors, and Furiosa dares to return to her childhood land to gain a little redemption. Escaping Joe's tyranny is the first step to a "better" quality of survival, but then it becomes something more; a mutual pact of trust, respect, trying to help the other find a place to call home, even if that isn't tangible. Beyond the action is a band of lost souls meeting in the middle to find stability and atonement in the sand-like ashes of this wretched domain.

The cast conveys so much with so little dialogue. The seamless choreography is ingrained into the production with the stunts but also the casts' performances. There's no doubt that Hardy will become an even bigger star since it's his (debatable) break-out role in Inception. Theron, quite simply, is a perfect storm on the brink of imploding or exploding; complex, raw, and fierce. And, the women, also known as the Breeders, and Nux (a worshiper of Joe's), aren't reduced to meek background players. Each brought their own strengths to a team that bonds, not easily, but with steady confidence against a barbarous villain.

Most of the film thrives on adrenaline between Max and Furiosa attempting to leave Joe and his merry men behind in the dust. This reboot is flashy, but its appearance offers more than what meets the eye. Not only does the story trust us to go on its wild ride, the special effects are just not for eye candy; each slice of action is impressive stunt-wise and propels the wickedness. Explosions are exciting, but he allows enough space and screen-time to absorb what's going on, even if sometimes it feels overwhelming to comprehend the magnitude of its madness.

Good guys versus bad guys are the big draw for action films, and many can be filled with cliches or violence for violence sake and/or weak characters. A balance of both male and female characters that aren't held back or down is often what's missing for movies that just want to parade bullets firing on all cylinders without a strong context. Max Max: Fury Road is high-velocity opera set in the West boosting its characters and fans into high gear for nearly two hours. Even if Max may be the title of the film, it's really everyone's show. And it's all very, maddeningly, kick-assingly, lovely.

Rating: ★★★
Have you seen Mad-Max: Fury Road? What do you think?