Now we get to the last couple of months for 2018’s movies. October kicks off with A Star Is Born and Venom, two movies that have caused a big twitter fight. What do I think of these though? There’s no time to waste!
A Star Is Born (Directed By Bradley Cooper)
Bradley Cooper plays this fictional famous country singer named Jackson Maine who on-stage is a musical star, off-stage, however, reveals that he is suffering a few health issues, the first immediate being his drinking problem. Upon walking into a drag bar, fans greet him enthusiastically, one introducing him to the bar’s top singer, Ally (played by Lady Gaga). Problem is, the young lady deals with life issues and lack of self-confidence.
Jackson decides to lift her up and transform her from kitchen duty to, well…Lady Gaga. Luckily, this is no feature-long music video as the heart of this film really relies on the heart-felt relationship between Jackson and Ally, seeing Jackson trying to pull his health issues together in trying to support Ally as she is looking up to him as an inspiration to commitment on this gig.
I’ll say that the movie doesn’t start off too great. The music, especially Bradley Cooper’s singing, is excellent, but the camera work on the opening performance is all over the place and never in focus. It was actually pretty jarring watching how this film started. Before we get the genuine relationship where we get to see these characters bond and develop, it starts off as a corny fairy tale.
You see Jackson immediately fall in-love with Ally on-sight and upon meeting her for the first time, starts touching her face, hitting on her and looking creepy. Any girl today would call the police or beat him up, but Ally has no boundaries I guess. Plus, you get those goofy support characters who are just there to be types and get a laugh out of you, not at all fitting in with the rest of the movie.
I’m fine with humor as that is a natural humanizing emotion. There’s just a difference between humor and cartoonish behavior. I know fans act weird in-front of their idol, I’ve just never seen a fan approach their star like a football player, except it’s about taking a selfie to show to his ex-girlfriend as revenge. Once we get through this wacky first 10 or so minutes and we see these two mains develop more, it’s a lovely bond.
You know this is Lady Gaga when she’s singing, and as someone who doesn’t know too much about the titular singer, she’s amazing both on-stage and in acting. You really do see a woman whose life has been improving so much because of Jackson and no matter how much she rises to fame, she’ll never seem to let it forget who brought her to this spot. Otherwise, no way in heck would you believe someone would ever call Lady Gaga ugly-looking.
As the movie progresses, you are sucked into the relationship, not just with our leads, but their own social connections as well. Sam Elliot comes in as Jackson’s older brother and his performance is powerful, also reveling why Jackson has all these mental health problems, which you see begin to destroy his own career over time. There is some Oscar-level acting with these performances once the goofy material is pushed aside, movie shows its strong material.
Though I’ll say, the weak moments still show up later once Ally is transformed, such as the Grammy’s or SNL, which those segments do feel like self-promotion of the actress. At the end of the day, A Star Is Born is still a very “Good” watch, due to the incredible chemistry that shows once the film takes off, the amazing performances and great music performances.
Call me a GAGA bot, but I would not hesitate to see this again with friends when or if the opportunity opens up!
Venom (Directed By Ruben Fleischer)
Now we turn to Venom. Let me start off by saying that I came in hoping for at least a decent fun movie. I wasn’t geeking out like the nerds were over the trailers because none of it explained how Venom could work without Spider-Man. That look meant nothing when everything else reeked of suck. Watching this though, I see how this could have been fun.
If you don’t know the iconic Marvel villain (who is I guess an anti-hero here), he’s this alien tar creature who once became apart of Peter Parker, but after Peter seeing how it’s turning him into a monster, he finds a way to get the Symbiote off of him, which then makes its way to a journalist who also has a grudge on Spider-Man, forming into a monster version of Spider-Man’s abilities, known as Venom.
So, replacing that plot-line is a good guy Eddie Brock (played by Tom Hardy), who’s famously known for getting the special scoop of each story, regardless if it’s following his given script. This bites him in the rear when interviewing an evil corporation, led by Carlton Drake (played by Riz Ahmed), who shuts him down when he attempts to interrogate the evil man for his illegal experiments, causing his job and relationship with Anne Weying (played by Michelle Williams to end) to end.
Six months later, he’s losing his apartment from being an idiot…I mean caring guy. The character that nerds were raving about in the trailers finally shows up when he has the opportunity to set things right, invading this corporate laboratory and fighting his way out, being introduced to a creature named Venom (voiced by Tom Hardy). At this point, I see what they are trying to do, a Jekyll & Hyde approach to this duo.
On paper, the idea is cool. In execution, it becomes an awkward mash-up between a gritty PG-13 monster flick and a children’s slapstick comedy. Before we even get to Venom, the movie is already borderline cringe with Tom Hardy doing a drugged-up hero version of his character in The Drop.
I bet you the reason why some are giving praises to Tom Hardy’s performance has never seen this movie, because where that version is effective, Venom’s imitation is basically Tom thrown onto the set, not knowing how to work with this studio-made script. He looks spaced-out and drunk most of the time, which does make many moments of this movie unintentionally funny.
His relationship with Anny is non-existent. In fact, you can throw her out of the movie and it would barely mean anything. Of course, you have the pure definition of bad guy with Drake, who is always looking dead and sinister, giving these religious quotes as he tries to shoot a rocket up to space so that the other Symbiotes can…possibly notice?
Once Venom comes onto the screen, I wouldn’t exactly call him an improvement over Spider-Man 3 just because of his look and that he cracks horrible jokes. Poor Venom doesn’t know what he wants to do or be in this movie. He starts from being this creature with a huge appetite, giving us some nice physical gags for the kids. Then, he wants to enslave everyone with Symbiotes.
At the climax though, Venom decides to have a heart of gold and be a good guy because he has a gay crush on Eddie, literally possessing another body at one point to make out with him, while sharing his personal feelings throughout the film. Why? Nothing is explained, but hey, go with it because you see Venom on the screen…or is it The Hulk, or maybe Green Lantern?
Venom in here isn’t defined as a character, nor an action star, just a couple of small points from the old comics and the rest is whatever Sony was smoking. I would agree that you can have fun-bad enjoyment, up until the final battle between good Venom and Riot (otherwise known as bad Venom), which throw CG all over the place to where you can’t make out who is hitting who, like a Michael Bay Transformers movie. However, the worst part isn’t the lazy ending, it’s the stinger of what they’re trying to hype up for the hopeful sequel.
I didn’t want to come in and hate just to hate, but Sony Pictures brought this on themselves, making this cinematic mess of a movie that can be bad-fun enjoyment for a good portion. It’s only the way it ends and leads its way to a sequel that speaks of both incompetence and corporate cynicism. Please “Avoid” this one, so Marvel can have their characters back and portray them better.
If you really want to see the best adaptation of Venom, that’s Upgrade, which is available to rent.
They had a much smaller budget than Sony and managed to make a far more exciting representation of what Venom is trying to give you. Give this film the support instead!