Posts Tagged ‘tom hardy’

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Venom (2018)

October 17, 2018


Director: Ruben Fleischer (Gangster Squad, Zombieland)
Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed

Venom was a mess long before it hit theaters, so I’ve never really thought it was going to amount to much of anything. This movie has been in production since before the Sam Raimi Spider-Man franchise died and rumors of Spidey-related spinoffs abounded after the series rebooted with Andrew Garfield. So after Disney and Marvel reacquired the film rights to Spider-Man and Sony decided to plow forward with a Venom movie anyway, well, I just didn’t see how that could end well.

I actually thought this movie had nothing to do with the current Marvel Cinematic Universe, but after doing some digging it looks like I could be wrong. Maybe? As late as June 2017, Marvel’s president Kevin Feige said that Venom is solely a Sony project, but the Sony side of things have claimed that their new universe will be “adjunct” to the MCU and that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man may even appear in future films. I’m not an expert Venom historian, so I don’t know if it’s possible to pull off a Venom movie without Spider-Man and not piss all the fans off, but I imagine DC trying to do a Joker movie without Batman and – wait… that is actually happening.

Then they cast Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock and I was officially bewildered. Was there actually hope for this movie? Well, the trailers looked awful and critics were crucifying it, so heading into my viewing of Venom I was expecting to to be absolutely terrible.

Honestly, I didn’t like it much, but I have definitely seen worse. The first hour or so of Venom is brutally boring. We are introduced to Eddie Brock’s world and watch as everything quickly crumbles around him. I actually thought three different people were going to tell him to “have a nice life” in a 10 minute span, but somehow the screenwriters resisted the urge to have Michelle Williams say it during their breakup scene. Basically, the first hour of the movie is a sequence of moments that you can already imagine Eddie Brock getting redemption for in the third act. It’s very formulaic and not at all interesting.

Meanwhile, Riz Ahmed’s character is a super rich science type that has acquired a bunch of symbiotes and he’s trying to figure out how to unite them with a host so that he can… honestly, I don’t remember what he’s trying to do. He probably plans to sell them as some sort of super soldier.

The movie does pick up once the Venom symbiote finds Eddie Brock. It gets very slap-sticky and starts to feel like a buddy film and the humor elevates enough that it made me laugh a few times. Most importantly, the pace and action are picked up significantly.

I think Venom looks terrible in this movie. For 2018, the CGI is awful. Venom looks incredibly fake and the climax of the movie literally looks like two giant wads of silly putty doing battle with each other. It is absurdly terrible. The special effects in this movie are a total embarrassment.

Venom managed to exceed my expectations, only because they were very, very low. This is not a good movie. All the characters are stale and uninteresting, Eddie Brock isn’t really someone you want to root for, and the performances are very uninspired. Tom Hardy is okay, I guess, but Michelle Williams’ talent is totally wasted and I’ve seen Riz Ahmed in some great roles (Nightcrawler, “The Night Of”), but he is straight up laughable in this movie. You think these things might be salvaged a bit when Venom is on screen – and to some degree they are – but the Venom personality is actually kind of stupid and annoying. Plus he looks really cheesy.

But what do I know? This movie has a 7.1 rating on IMDB and an 88% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, all while breaking October box office records. It’s an absolute smash hit and the general public seems to really like it, so… maybe you will too.

Replay Value: The thought of sitting through the first hour again sounds painful, but I could do the second half.

Sequel Potential: It looks like this will reach $250 million domestically so a sequel is inevitable. I don’t have much interest in Sony’s superhero movies and their history doesn’t suggest they are going to step their game up.

Oscar Potential: Zero.

Dina Meter: Dina might enjoy this more than I did, but I would be surprised if she watched it and said “that was good!”

3/10 (Bad)

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Dunkirk (2017)

July 26, 2017

Starring: Harry Styles, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh
Director: Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, Memento)

Bottom Line: This is not “the best film of Christopher Nolan’s career” or “one of the best war films ever” like many critics have made it out to be – it’s not even as good as last year’s Hacksaw Ridge, which hit me right in the feels. I’m shocked at how well received Dunkirk has been because it is absolutely hollow. Dunkirk made me feel nothing. Nolan is still a master at making beautiful films – Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises were both very easy on the eyes – but this is now the third straight film of his where I’ve left the theater thinking “eh” because of his writing.

Set during World War II in the city of Dunkirk, France, Allied forces are trapped on the beach and surrounded by German troops. The story has three different timelines: one takes place over a week following a group of soldiers on the beach, a second takes place over a single day following a man and two kids from the British Empire on a boat headed towards Dunkirk to help out, and a third takes place over the course of an hour, in the air, following a couple of pilots in dogfighters. The problem with these intertwining stories is we are completely immersed into the action, from the very first scene, and there is virtually no character development so you never really care about what happens to anyone or what is at stake. Maybe just knowing this is a true story and a number of real people were in a similar situation is enough to make some people feel something, but watching a movie, following certain characters, I want to feel something about them – and I never did.

Mark Rylance does a very fine job as the ordinary British man that sails into battle and his story is definitely the most interesting. In contrast, Tom Hardy plays one of the pilots and that entire story arc is completely devoid of any investment from the audience. How can you possibly care about someone when you can’t understand a single line of dialogue they say the entire film? That’s another issue I had with Dunkirk. Even though everyone is speaking English, subtitles felt like a requirement, particularly during the flight scenes – the sounds of the jets are so loud you can’t hear anything that is being said. While that might be authentic, the audience isn’t equipped with a headset like the pilots are. I suppose Harry Styles does a fine job as one of the soldiers on the ground, but again, I wasn’t invested in his story and even though the script follows a select group of soldiers it isn’t particularly easy to tell them apart, especially since I wasn’t familiar with the actors.

So yeah, Dunkirk is visually great, as all Nolan’s films have been, but the script falls short. Even though the movie is riveting and Hans Zimmer’s score adds lots of tension, the script doesn’t invest you in the story and there is simply no emotional payoff. Maybe I will change my mind when I watch it again but I can’t say I’m exactly excited about a second viewing. I appear to be in the minority in not loving this film, so take this review with a grain of salt and go see it for yourself, but I can promise this much: there is no way my wife, a casual film watcher, would have enjoyed Dunkirk.

Replay Value: I didn’t love Interstellar or The Dark Knight Rises the first time I watched them but I did see them again. I think a second viewing of Dunkirk would be more laborious, however.
Sequel Potential: None.
Oscar Potential: I would be appalled if Dunkirk was the film that finally got Nolan an Oscar statue, but the praise being heaped on it makes it a pretty strong contender for things like Best Picture and Best Director. I would have no problem with Dunkirk being nominated for Best Cinematography or and visual categories though.

Grade: 5/10 (watchable)

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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

December 19, 2016

Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Director: Christopher Nolan (Interstellar, Inception, The Dark Knight)

Bottom Line: It’s taken me nearly four years to come to terms with this film. Back in 2012, leading up to The Dark Knight Rises‘ release, my expectations were through the roof and unrealistic – and yet they weren’t. I had similar feelings about The Dark Knight and somehow Christopher Nolan managed to exceed my impossible expectations by making what is still what I consider to be the best superhero film ever – a film so good it changed how The Oscars approached the Best Picture category, increasing the number of films that could be nominated in the future.

But when I walked out of The Dark Knight Rises all I felt was a tremendous amount of disappointment. I was thrown by the fact the film took place eight years after The Dark Knight. It seemed like Batman was barely in the movie, which was fine in Batman Begins when Bruce Wayne is discovering his calling, but I wanted more Dark Knight in this. I suspected that Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were secretly cast as Talia Al’Ghul and Robin, respectively, long before the film’s release, so even though the Nolans do a good job of misdirecting, I wasn’t surprised in the least when the true identities were revealed. Finally, I hated the fact that Bruce Wayne becomes a shut in because his friend/love interest Rachel died. Let me get this straight: the man that pushes himself to the brink of human capabilities to protect his city from the kind of people that murdered his parents is going to disappear from society and whittle away in his mansion because his girlfriend died? For eight years?! During his peak crime-fighting years?! Uh, no. That’s not Batman. It’s such a departure from the character of Bruce Wayne that it’s difficult to shake.

But it’s been four years since The Dark Knight Rises came out and I’ve seen it a few times since then, including as recently as a week ago and well, it’s not so bad. In fact, it’s quite good. I mean there are some flaws – as previously noted – plus some intense magical rope healing (huh?), but I actually really enjoyed this last viewing of it. It  wraps up Christopher Nolan’s trilogy in great fashion, bringing the League Of Shadows back into the mix and allowing Bruce to move on with his life, while allowing The Batman to remain a symbol of hope in Gotham. I can live with the lack of Batman on screen in the film now too. It fits the story. Christopher Nolan has been more interested in making great films than in making a good superhero movie and he continues to approach his Dark Knight series in that fashion with this movie. It’s an incredibly bleak film, but the big theme is hope – first crushing it and then rising up from the abyss to overcome. Batman doesn’t need to be on screen because he’s retired when the film starts and then he’s beaten to a pulp in the middle of it – and that makes his ultimate return that much more powerful.

I absolutely loved Tom Hardy’s Bane. Heath Ledger’s Joker was always going to be impossible to match, but Bane is a GREAT villain in this film. There are some corny moments, like making Talia Al’Ghul a love interest, but Bane is mostly just awesome. I love the mask. I love the physique.  I love the way Hardy delivers his dialogue – and there’s plenty of great Bane quotes in the movie: “Peace time has cost you your strength. Victory has defeated you!” – “Do you feel in charge?” – “Oh, you think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it.” And many more! He’s smart. He’s ruthless. He’s a physical beast. You believe an out of shape Batman would stand no chance and you wonder how Batman can match him, even when he’s back in peak form. I would have loved to see what Nolan did with The Riddler or even Hugo Strange, but I’m totally satisfied with how he handled Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

Okay, so it wasn’t surprising that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is revealed to be “Robin,” plus the character isn’t Dick Grayson or any other familiar name that takes up the Robin mantle, but Gordon-Levitt’s Detective John Blake was a great addition to this story. When everyone else has given up on Batman, this orphan turned police officer knows his true identity and pushes Bruce back into action. Plus he gets to say some great lines like “We know what’s down there, sir: the police commissioner.” He may not be Dick Grayson and his parents weren’t murdered at the circus, but it’s clear that the Nolans understand the essence of the character.

I listened to Hans Zimmer’s score many times before I saw the movie, which is pretty weird actually. You can sort of paint a picture of how things are going to unfold by listening to the score in sequential order. I mean that’s how obsessed with this movie I was. I just couldn’t resist the temptation. So when I heard the music that was playing during the scene where Batman was flying the bomb out over the bay, you get the feeling that someone important is going to die. It was just a bizarre feeling watching the movie having heard all the music already and having an idea what was going to happen. I won’t ever do it again. With that said, I love the score. Zimmer does a fantastic job of adding adrenaline to the film, especially during Bane’s reign of terror.

A few weeks ago, The Dark Knight Rises was omitted from my top 10 of 2012 list, while films like 21 Jump Street and Skyfall were still ahead of it. Having revisited the movie and deciding I’m actually quite happy with it, it now ranks in my top six of the year. The film has solid acting from its ensemble cast (Bale’s Bat-voice excluded), a great villain, a top notch score, a bunch of dialogue I love, and it looks fantastic – plus it’s a very fitting end to the vision Nolan had for his Bat-franchise. It’s one of the best trilogies of all-time, right up there with The Lord Of The Rings and the original Star Wars movies. When you talk about the best superhero movies ever, Nolan’s Batman movies will always be some of the first ones mentioned, but really, this series has produced multiple great films – not just great for a superhero movie – but some of the best films ever made.

Replay Value: It has grown on me a ton and I can always watch Batman movies.
Sequel Potential: They wrapped this trilogy up just fine, but the Batman character has been revived for DC’s new cinematic universe.
Oscar Potential: The film was totally blanked for both Oscar and Golden Globe noms, which seems a bit unfair as some of the technical aspects and the score are deserving of consideration.

Grade: 7.5/10 (highly enjoyable/must see)

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The Revenant (2015)

January 27, 2016

Starring: Leonardo Dicaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman, Babel, 21 Grams)

Bottom Line: The Revenant was quite easily the most beautiful movie I’ve seen all year – from the cold set locations along a wild river to the amazing cinematography, it is pretty astonishing to look at. Of course, Leonardo Dicaprio knocks another performance out of the park. Playing Hugh Glass, a legendary explorer of uncharted America, his character is left for dead by his peers after being brutally attacked by a bear and he spends the rest of the movie, barely alive already, fighting to survive through the threats of nature, unhappy Natives, and his body giving out in order to exact revenge on the two men that left him behind to die. Somehow Leo gives one of the best performances of his career while barely having any dialogue. And though I don’t think it was his best work, the Academy might finally reward him with a “lifetime achievement” Best Actor statue. Tom Hardy plays the main antagonist, part of the group of frontiersmen, one in constant disagreement with Glass and ultimately the man that tries to bury him alive after the bear mauling. It’s another fantastic performance for Hardy – one that kind of reminds me of Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow – and continues Hardy’s history of performances so diverse he is basically unrecognizable from role to role.

I felt like The Revenant was the full package – it’s the sort of movie you really just have to go see in theaters. Great performances, amazing cinematography and camera work (that bear scene though!), and possibly the best score I’ve heard all year. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is developing quite the Hollywood resume as he has a very legitimate chance to follow up his Best Picture win for Birdman with another one for The Revenant. I’d be curious to know how many times that has been done in movie history.

The Revenant is a bit long and not for everyone (my wife was not very impressed), but I loved it. It’s as well rounded and enjoyable as any 2015 movie I’ve seen so far – a true must see cinematic experience.

Replay Value: This movie should look just as sexy in HD on blu-ray – I’m looking forward to seeing it again.
Sequel Potential: None.
Oscar Potential: 12 Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor for Dicaprio, Best Supporting Actor for Hardy, Best Director, and Best Cinematography. I feel like The Revenant is probably the favorite for Best Picture at the moment, but it should have some stiff competition from Mad Max: Fury Road in a lot of the technical departments, including cinematography. Not sure how this film’s score got snubbed – I’ve heard all the nominated scores except Carol and none of them were better than The Revenant.

Grade: 8/10 (Excellent)

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Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

May 25, 2015

Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron
Director: George Miller (Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Happy Feet)

Bottom Line: I felt it necessary to watch the original Mad Max and it’s sequel The Road Warrior to prime myself for George Miller’s 2015 update of his defining franchise. I can assure you, these films are not essential prerequisites. I liked them okay, particularly The Road Warrior, but they have little to do with Fury Road.

Actually, Fury Road is the Mad Max world on steroids – it’s Barry Bonds. George Miller waited thirty years to update this franchise and Fury Road wastes little time establishing itself as the new bar for cinematic action. We are briefly introduced to Tom Hardy’s version of Max Rockatansky before being plunged into a chaotic post-apocalyptic world and a heart-stopping vehicle chase. Miller leaves it up to us to figure out the who and the why as the story develops… and I’ll tell you, I can’t remember being so entertained by a movie where I have almost no idea what’s going on. Fortunately, there is time to fill in the blanks later as Fury Road adds a bit of character development in between its absurdly intense action sequences.

Fury Road is big time cinema at it’s finest. Miller’s world is meticulously crafted – from the costumes, to the set designs, to the vehicles, to the score – it’s all top notch and perfectly executed. It may be grimy, but Fury Road is a truly beautiful film. No dollar in this budget was wasted. Mad Max: Fury Road may be all George Miller, but his cast does great also. Tom Hardy is good enough in the Max role to make you forget about Mel Gibson and Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa is the story’s true hero and Theron knocks it out of the park.

Calling this movie a sequel or a reboot is really doing it a disservice. It pays tribute to the concept of the original run of films while improving on them in every possible way. Perhaps it’s not so bad for Hollywood to constantly rehash old ideas if it’s capable of occasionally producing something as awesome as Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller has quite possibly crafted a modern classic.

Replay Value: I’d watch this again in theaters and it feels like a must own for the blu-ray collection.
Sequel Potential: Mad Max: The Wasteland has already been announced with Tom Hardy attached to star and George Miller writing, but if Miller isn’t directing mark me as skeptical.
Oscar Potential: Fury Road should have no problems scooping up nominations for some of the technical aspects, particularly costume and set design, sound, editing, etc., and it may have an outside chance at Best Picture and Best Director.

Grade: 8.5/10 (Excellent/Blew My Mind)