Venom – Why Tom Hardy?

I mean, that’s my central argument. Why cast a great physical actor like Tom Hardy for this film?

Venom is another SuperHero movie by Sony just because they own many of the Spiderman characters from Marvel. I do believe that most movies are made because they can. And in the present climate, every studio wants to be on top of the franchise game.

I remember admiring films, even really loving them. But not many of them recently have been that good or memorable. Maybe it’s me, looking from a perspective where I look through like an x-ray. I focus on the mechanics of the film rather than the emotional impressions it has. It seems to me that Tom Hardy was told this would be different. Maybe a character study. So he does give Eddie Brock a more physical presence with the subtle things he does with his shoulders. Keeping them high when Eddie Brock starts off as a superstar reporter and then this interview with a pseudo-Elon Musk like character completely turns his life upside down. That makes them limp and does enact his anxiety and panicky episodes physically.

Eddie already knows part of the rumours that surround Carlton Drake aka Riot, played by Riz Ahmed in a very exaggerated sort of way. So nothing is really a mystery in this film as the plot evolves. We can see from the first few minutes where this is going to end. And this predictability is a hindering factor.

Another argument is regarding the third act. I could not distinguish the CGI fighting in this film from flashes that came through from Black Panther. The models and lighting in the final boss fight looked so shiny and fake that I was like what is this shit? So those moments really made me want to throw up. I had such a negative response to those scenes that’s all of what I remember from the film.

Also, in comics or video games, Venom always only engaging with Spiderman in front of him to terrorize. This is specifically based in San Fransisco to stay away from Spiderman. It seeks to give Venom an arc as a protagonist while we’d rather see him get down and deceitful. The problem is that it made a total worldwide gross of $856.1 million. What’s hopeful though is that Andy Serkis is going to be directing Venom 2 with Tom Hardy returning. It will feature Woody Harelson as Carnage. Hopefully, this allows the next film to be a bit more emotionally arousing.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind — In a Bad Mood

I didn’t even remember that Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst and Elijah Wood were also in this movie until I saw it again. But that’s not anyone remembers anyway. They remember the orange sweatshirt and that hair colour changing from orange to blue. What’s the shade she mentions in the train scene again? I wanted to see someone suffer, to be honest. And Jim Carrey is one of my favourite actors really, so he was the one I chose. I hadn’t seen it in a long long time so it was time to revisit it with fresh mean eyes. I don’t know why but a lot of film endings have been disappointing me recently. I can’t quite put a finger on what is it exactly. They have not been what I’ve wanted them to be. Some are maybe incomplete story arcs like Infinity War, those really piss me off. There are not supposed to be cliffhangers in a theatrical presentation. It’s not a weekly fucking soap opera. I strongly feel that movies need to have the balls to end a thought, have clarity about the destinies of its characters as a film ends even if you may go on to tell more stories in sequels but end one adventure with a satisfactory resolution. Emotional catharsis is what we look for when we invest two hours in a feature presentation, not two fucking post-credit scenes to advertise come back after a year or two to know what really happened or how it really ends. I can understand that it’s probably not a popular opinion but I don’t give a fuck. Not tonight at least.

Joel is shy, awkward and closed out. Clementine being the eccentric, impulsive orange-haired girl chooses a man like Joel because she likes the fact that he doesn’t approach her. That’s sweet and happens more often than many films like to depict. The atmosphere is cold as fuck. There is snow everywhere and people wear layers upon layers of grey overcoats which one would never consider as a setting for a romantic movie. But this is about a concept which is ‘Would you go about getting the memories of a failed relationship erased simply if you could?’ It’s a good idea which is well executed in terms of exposition by actually showing details about characters in non-linear memories. I believe most people with failed relationships would have wanted that at some point. Only if I could get back to a time when I didn’t know that person at all. Or the second best thing would be to erase them from your memory in a way that’s complete and that would help you move on in life. Of course, an impulsive girl like Clementine would go for it the instant it crosses her mind. And Of course, someone introspective and thoughtful like Joel would have second thoughts midway and would try his best to hide her in parts of his brain that no one else can access.

What does bother me at the end is that they go back in the real world as if it was a memory by taking the same shots as the beginning of the film where Joel skips his usual train to work and makes an impulsive decision to take a train to someplace new. They meet in the same way and this time they hear the worst comments about each other through tapes they recorded when they chose to undertake the procedure to get the memories erased. And still, despite knowing the eventual outcome where Joel will get bored of the sex and Clementine will start to hate herself for becoming boring chose to say “Okay” to all that. That’s the rubbish romanticism that most people relate to. I mentioned in the title “In a Bad Mood”. What would’ve been a more believable scenario is if Joel chose to go meet the erased Clementine and thank her for the memories despite the fact that it didn’t work out. Because to be honest they weren’t really good for each other if you think about it. They didn’t really respect each other based on the tapes. Romantic love can never work without respect. It’s hopeful ignorant fantasy that we wish we could live but none of us ever do successfully and for long enough to have happy memories.

Recommended track: Everybody’s got to learn sometime.

Logan — Don’t be what they made you

Logan’s shaking feet come out of a rented car from which some thieves are trying to steal the chrome plating on the tires. His beard has gone grey and his body posture is slouched. He throws himself in front of the car because he knows his body can take the bullets but he doesn’t wanna explain holes in the car. He has a limo service which he works on in order to buy medicines which keep Ex Professor Charles Xavier’s mind freezing seizures in control.

Logan has become a caretaker for a cribbing, unapologetic, cranky grandfather-figure in a rusty big iron chamber locked away from the world.

Charles remarks, “You’re waiting for me to die.”

His own eyesight has gone weak. His body feels tired and he keeps an adamantium bullet alongside in case he feels like shooting himself without healing back. A mysterious Mexican nurse wants to pay him 50k dollars in order to help her drive over to North Dakota. There is this little girl as well. Dressed in Denims, playing with a ball bouncing in the compound of a motel. Bad men want to manufacture kids without souls and train them as soldiers for war. But now have to seize this little girl and the rest of the kids who escaped with the help of the nurse.

The films taps into the essence of the best bits of Hugh Jackman’s 17 year old run as the X-Men character. The fact that he is an animal. Always has been. Prefers to work alone because he has trust issues. The people he cares about get in trouble which further reinforces his beliefs that he should be alone. That leads to a fucked up history from which you wanna run away. In the world of Logan, all the X-Men are gone. He is depressed but has the responsibility of taking care of Charles. He feels indebted to him for taking him when he was a nobody and desperately needed some guidance.

“I gave you a family.”, reminds Charles.

“They’re all gone now…”, retorts the depressed Old Man Logan.

He would have fired that bullet a long time ago had Charles been not around. So in essence this film is all about a family that you didn’t get born into but rather chose to be a part of despite the many flaws of people comprising them. While travelling to their destination, they decide to help out a family stuck on the roadside and like all elderly people who embarrass the young ones, Charles happily accepts their invitation to stay in for dinner and then the night itself. Logan’s past comes back to haunt him in the form of the lab made X-25 mutant who is his look alike but 20 years younger. His rage is designed by the bad guys.

He kills everyone in sight but Logan and Laura (his Daughter) escape. His wounds aren’t healing as quickly now and he resists to go anywhere neither can he stop because he continues to run from habit.

The X-Men comic in the film plays the role of the mythological text. Something that the inhabitants adhere to as religion and it is a matter to faith whether or not they should follow its every word or not. That’s where the location of Eden comes from. A safe haven where the new generation of mutants will be safe. Logan doesn’t believe in all this. But upon his rebellious daughters insistence, goes ahead just to prove her that he was right all along.

He is shocked to find that something like Eden even exists. Not in the pristine impossible form that the comic alluded to but something more real, grounded and very practical. The medicine that they use helps them with their powers in small doses but can also be lethal if overdosed with. When he wakes up he wishes to leave but Laura wants him around. He reasons with her and tries to explain that…

“Bad shit happens to people I care about…”, says Logan.

“Then I’ll be fine.” says his sarcastic daughter.

The film hits the right balance between reality and adventure. Decaying souls and bodies with aggregated energetic bursts. Nature and Nurture with the desire to control and manufacture products for capitalistic gains. What the world wants you to be and what you really want to be. For someone who was an outlaw all his life and hardly cared about what anyone thought of him, Logan gives a non constricting piece of advice to his daughter on his deathbed after saving her. Dont be what they made you.

Logan beautifully deconstructs the superhero genre and apart from the slightly repetitive action hits feels fresh and raw like the western ‘Shane’ which also plays in one scene of the film. This form of story has become a classic now. The retired/old war general who is called back for one last mission which involves him because something very personal is at stake. But Logan does it better than most in recent memory. It’s final act is also a testament to it’s strength as it sways away from blue laser beams pointing to the sky and instead keeps everything on the ground and under it infact.


Why Justice League became a bad Marvel movie

When the opening scene of the film happens to be something that wasn’t in the original vision for the film, the patchy nature of the film really begins to show (Upper Lip). I’ve been a big fan of Man of Steel but since then have been consistently disappointed by where Zack Snyder and company took the story. He chose a niche for these super beloved characters, He was going for a very specific and niche tone. But then something happened that really messed with that original vision. MOS, BvS and Justice League were supposed to be a part of a trilogy which Zack Snyder wanted to tell. Each bigger in ambition than the last.

The ‘something’ that I refer to is the involvement of Chris Terrio. He was brought into re-write parts of BvS. I don’t know why critics or general people don’t consider that as one of those bad hires that really spoiled the films. As far as I know he isn’t a comic book nerd and he took the steering away from Zack to redirect it into that god awful Martha Scene who everyone makes fun of now. Sure, he won Best Screenplay for Argo with Ben Affleck but this these films won’t ever be remembered as his best work.

Let’s get into Justice League. It’s a mess. Structure wise, Joss Whedon had an impossible task especially with the mandate by Warner Bros CEO to bring the film to under 2 hours to enable more theatrical screenings. They wanted money to be made from the most expensive super-hero film ever made. With a 93 Million dollar opening being the lowest ever for any DC film we all know how that turned out. It feels like vignette after vignette and skims over the origins of each of the new characters. You’re left wondering where do these people come from exactly? What do they feel about being who they are? And how do they reconcile with the fact that they happens to be gods now with these invulnerable super powers? The flash, Aquaman and Cyborg just happen to walk into scenes fully costumed and ready to fight. Another problem is the fact that most of the good moments were included in the trailers but that happens with most of these films now. Why do these films feel like extended trailers nowadays?

Danny Elfman was brought in to score the film after Junkie XL was fired from the project. He chooses to go backwards and not forwards with the choices he makes. Only Wonder Woman’s super popular theme is retained (in a weak fashion) and everything Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL did was all thrown out of the window. This score is mediocre at best. I think the score for Man of Steel is so nuanced and emotional and it still resonates with me. Anyone who has ‘an eye’ could see the reshoots and the change in the way scenes injected witty lines and characters started making self aware jokes. Maybe Zack wasn’t at his best when we was conceiving this epic plan but his vision was tampered with from the start. He needed a cohesive screenplay to support his grand visual storytelling instincts.

It was meant to be an epic on paper with a wasted cast like JK Simmons, Diane Lane, Amy Adams and Jesse Eisenberg who barely make it past two short scenes or less. Steppenwolf was always planned to be a part of a two part epic perhaps where the real baddie Darkseid tests the League to their limits. Everyone online has mentioned about the weak fully CG villain and I won’t get into it again. The death of superman is perhaps his motivation to return to the world again. A couple of scenes between Diana Prince and Bruce Wayne work and one with Jason Momoa when you look at them in isolation. A couple of scenes do make you smile with The Flash and Superman as well. But the razor thin plot, I don’t think, will make them stick. Now let me examine the crux of my feelings here. The twin director problem.

WB took a massive critical hit after BvS so they looked for what makes other films in the genre work. Everybody knows they looked at Marvel. Everybody knows they hired Joss Whedon to rewrite scenes. And Everybody knows he injects these godlike beings down to earth with humour to make them relatable. That’s fine but that was the foundation he built for the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the first two phases of films and culminating in the Avengers films. He was asked to do that again here. But what makes DC films different is the grit and realism with which it treats its worlds. That’s what made TDK movies and Man of Steel work for me. Both those films involve a story treatment by Christopher Nolan. That’s what these films don’t get now. A unique voice which has the confidence of what story it’s trying to tell and then going ahead with conviction. Unfortunately DC are trying to be like Marvel now for the approval of the general public and its moving towards mediocrity to say the least. That’s not what I’ve come to expect from these films.

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded… And everybody knows that they’re in trouble.

War For The Planet Of The Apes — A Retrospective

A great story can come from anywhere. The protagonist doesn’t even have to be human.

When Woody Harrelson’s The Colonel invades ‘the Ape Society’ and kills Caesars younger son, he is pushed into a hell of vengeance. A test he has never really faced so far. A test of dealing with the loss of someone his own. His revengful mindset even distracts him from his tribe which was his main focus in ‘Dawn’. Koba visits him in his nightmares and he begins to wonder what he is feeling may perhaps be no different from how Koba must have felt with the years of suffering and torture from the hands of some humans. Yet the vengeance that drives him is strong and personal. He has a reason to seek the death of a human for the first time in his life.

Cinematographer Michael Seresin (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) is excellent with his wide framing of the beautiful landscapes to ground the otherwise CGI world (just apes mainly) in real snow, water and trees. The film then becomes almost like a western and we’re introduced to the brilliantly acted mute girl who is later named ‘Nova’. What felt magical to me was how the film then starts exploring elements of classical silent films in its storytelling. Certain elaborate sequences in the second act feel suspenseful and clarity of story is achieved without ever really saying much. Michael Giacchino, the composer does probably his best work here. Christian symbolism is also embedded into sequences like the X tree (instead of a typical cross) where Caesar is captured and punished.

And then we also have Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), another genius subplot in this amazing series, an ape who learns to talk by mimicking bad humans and then lives in isolation for years apparently. He provides the required comic relief in an otherwise grim setting. Woody Harrelson has another couple of amazingly paced and purposed expositional scenes with Caesar. Maurice develops as someone who’s learned empathy from the Ape leader and works to save the mute girl Nova, someone who’s not been corrupted yet. She understands the need to protect anyone or anything with potential.

The film is about loss and the need for people to hold on tightly to what keeps them going. When our support systems are wrenched away, we respond with anger and violence. And when there are things in the world that we don’t understand, we respond with fear and battles for control. All of this and so much more is woven through “War for the Planet of the Apes” in a way that often doesn’t hit you until hours or days later. When he finally gets hold of the Colonel, I realized looking at that face that Caesar will be an iconic character, one that moviegoers watch for decades to come. And these films will only grow in esteem and acclaim. Greatness always does.

Director Matt Reeves says this trilogy was Caesar’s Arc into becoming a mythical legend among the apes because he transcends his own anger in a prolonged moment filled with hate and guides his tribe into a place of safety where nature also plays its part in eliminating the problems.

He explained it as ‘A Darwinian Biblical Epic’ and I certainly felt so.