Film Nut Reviews

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Tag: Action (page 2 of 11)

Venom is Enjoyable, But Not the Best Superhero Film

The anti-hero genre made a big splash when Deadpool burst onto screens two-and-a-half years ago. Now, Sony has decided to try their hand at getting audiences’ attention with a not-so-super hero in the form of Venom. The character of Eddie Brock/Venom is interesting, but it falters in delivering a solid plot. While Venom is way more enjoyable than the majority of critics make it out to be, the film is plagued by a weak script, confusing plot, and lame villain. However, I give Tom Hardy a lot of credit for putting his all into playing Eddie because you can tell how much he wanted this film to work.

If you don’t know who/what Venom is, he is a symbiote alien life form that needs a living host to live and thrive in. Venom follows journalist Eddie (Hardy), who loses his job and fiancée Anne (Michelle Williams) when he goes too far by asking the wrong questions during an interview with evil mastermind Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). Drake’s company is masking their real motive of completing illegal human trials of paring symbiotes that were retrieved off a comet in space and homeless people. With Drake causing lots of death, Eddie’s goal of exposing the truth takes a startling turn when he accidently has a symbiote take up residence inside him.

Venom has a cool running time of less than two hours, yet it takes a solid half hour before the titular character makes his first appearance. There is too much Eddie trying to be a decent guy and expose evil through journalism before the real story gets going. Once Venom is introduced and merges with Eddie, the film gets significantly better in terms of entertainment value. I found Venom’s one-liners to be very funny and add a much-needed comedic spin on the film. Hardy’s conversations with himself (i.e. Eddie talking out loud to Venom, who is inside of him) make him appear to be totally nuts, but these are the best scenes of the film.

The film would have been a lot better if it had been given an R-rating instead of PG-13. Yes, there is a lot of action and several instances of Venom biting people’s faces off, but there was incompleteness without blood and gore. For the inevitable sequel, Sony should really consider going in a darker turn, especially when they will be fully introducing Carnage (played by Woody Harrelson) into the mix. I really feel Venom would still have made a lot of money and found its audience with an R-rating.

There also needs to be some major script improvements for the sequel. Venom has too many inconsistencies and plot holes to make it anything more than decent as a whole. For instance, Venom declares early on to Eddie that he came to Earth to eat all of the humans and take over the planet. Not long after, he decides not to follow along with the other symbiotes’ plans and wants to stay on Earth without eating all the people, which made no sense and came out of left field. However, the humorous relationship between Eddie and Venom works rather well. I have a feeling that the comedy was unintentional, but I found quite a lot of good and bad to laugh at.

Thankfully, Venom isn’t terrible and is enjoyable to watch. I was never bored, and the short running time helped keep things moving. Some of the action sequences were fun and better choreographed than I expected. I was also very happy that Williams had a sizable role when the trailers made it appear that she wouldn’t have many scenes. Even though most of the plot made no sense, I did like Venom and will give the sequel a chance. There is room for improvement, but it’s not a terrible start.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Silliness Makes a Splash in The Meg

Summer is the time of year when ridiculous movies are released. This year’s contender for most ridiculous film is The Meg, which is about a prehistoric shark out for vengeance. While The Meg might sound dumb on paper, it is easily the funniest B-movie I have seen in a long time. The fact that The Meg is self-aware and knows that it is absurd is the best part of the entire film. Keeping things light and silly instead of dark and serious is what makes The Meg a fun August film.

I was sold on The Meg when I saw it was about Jason Statham battling a prehistoric shark called a megalodon. Yes, it is crazy, but it’s a film that keeps on giving with amazingly cheesy one-liners and a shark that not only wants personal vengeance on Statham, but wants to eat anything that moves. What could go wrong when a megalodon escapes from the depths of the ocean floor? You name it, it happens in The Meg. At its core, this is a silly film that begs you to laugh at the craziness that occurs onscreen.

The Meg is pretty much the comedic version of Jaws. You are supposed to view the film as a comedy, otherwise it will seem dumb. The writers did a good job of keeping the script light and funny. With the surprising success of its opening weekend box office gross and how fun the film is, I can envision a whole franchise of Meg films much like the Sharknado series. The acting and dialogue are supposed to be cheesy and make you roll your eyes, but that’s also half the fun. If you go in with an open mind and low expectations, you will have a good time.

The only downfall of The Meg is that is tries to be serious a few times. The film fails when it wants to be serious because it’s not bad enough to be funny. Those scenes are left in a murky grey area. Also, Rainn Wilson was underused in the film and could have added a lot more to the cheesiness. However, if you have a good sense of humor and like ridiculous action films, then The Meg is for you. Statham is the perfect choice for this film and has the best unrealistic moments out of all the actors. The Meg is a fun end-of-summer film that should be appreciated for how ridiculous it is. It’s not great and it’s not bad, but it’s one of the better decent B-movies you will see this year.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is a True Spy Thriller

It’s difficult for action franchises to stay serious and not get incredibly cheesy and corny. Mission: Impossible has defied the odds and gotten better with age. The last three films have all topped one another, with the sixth and latest entry, Fallout, easily being the best of the franchise. The hard work put into Fallout is clear in every scene, which makes it a very enjoyable ride. While I constantly think about the longevity of the M:I series and how much longer star Tom Cruise can continue playing Ethan Hunt, I would gladly watch several more of these films considering the high quality production, narrative, and action.

Fallout opens two years following the events of the fifth film, Rogue Nation. Hunt’s new mission, if he so chooses to accept it, is to take down a splinter cell of the Syndicate, now known as the Apostles, and find their mysterious leader known only by an alias. The best part of Fallout is that it keeps itself grounded by having Hunt face his past in multiple ways, thus tying the entire franchise together and following an on-going narrative. I appreciate that M:I actually tries, and succeeds, to follow a continuous plot and doesn’t do lame one-off films.

Previous characters also continue through the franchise and into Fallout, which is a nice touch. While he isn’t the main baddie of this film, Hunt’s previous archenemy and former leader of the Syndicate, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), returns with only revenge on his mind. The long-awaited return of Hunt’s ex-wife, Julia (Michelle Monaghan), who was teased in the trailers, will please any fan. It is also great to see Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) rejoin the Impossible Mission Force (IMF) team and have more of a lead role, showing that the M:I franchise has started turning away from only being a boy’s club. The addition of newcomers Vanessa Kirby, who plays villain White Widow, and Angela Bassett, as one of the heads of the CIA, is another sign that M:I isn’t afraid to put women in more substantial roles.

The chemistry of long-time IMF members Hunt, Luther (Ving Rhames), and Benji (Simon Pegg) helps keep Fallout light and fun. Cruise is as good as ever as super-spy Hunt. I’m not a huge Cruise fan, but he is the sole reason that this franchise has longevity and keeps getting better. Hats off to Cruise for continuing to do his own stunts and still adding depth to his character six movies in. He also does a good job of sharing the spotlight with M:I rookie Henry Cavill, who plays CIA assassin August Walker. Cruise and Cavill make a great action team and have a good “opposites attract” vibe.

One of the highlights of Fallout is the constant long-form action sequences. Frequent Cruise collaborator and Fallout writer-director Christopher McQuarrie does a great job at allowing the action to shine and be the central focus of the film. The car and motorcycle chase scene is a good example of McQuarrie’s smart creative decisions because the five-plus minute sequence contains no dialogue and simply shows awesome stunt work. The stunt choreography is another highlight of the film and has truly been upped a few levels since Rogue Nation.

Fallout is a very enjoyable, mostly realistic action film that will keep you highly entertained over its entire 147 minute runtime. While it is a bit long, Fallout gets much better after the very obvious big reveal twist occurs. It’s always fun to see a spy film that can stay serious and be taken seriously while still allowing the audience to have a good time watching it.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Ant-Man and the Wasp Soars High

Marvel is 3-3 this year with its stellar films. The 20th film of the ever-growing franchise, Ant-Man and the Wasp, ties up loose ends, proves that Marvel is ready to put female superheroes at the forefront, and shows that smaller can be bigger. If you haven’t seen 2015’s Ant-Man, then you have been missing out on a comic gem. The sequel is a pure comedy adventure and tons of fun to watch. Two is definitely better than one in Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Fans of the MCU know that Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) has not shown up since 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. When we last saw him, Scott was locked up in the undersea prison with the rest of Cap’s crew. However, he has not been forgotten and the opening minutes of Wasp explain exactly where he has been. Surprisingly, this film takes place in 2018 presumably a few months prior to the events of Avengers: Infinity War. Don’t worry, Wasp also goes full-circle and ends on the day Thanos comes down to Earth.

Wasp leans more on the action-adventure genre than Ant-Man, which played out like a heist film. This time around, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) recruit Scott to help them travel to the Quantum Realm to save Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), the previously thought dead mother of Hope and husband of Hank. Since Scott is the only person to go to the Quantum Realm and survive (aka the end of Ant-Man), Hank and Hope reluctantly see him as their one true hope. However, the tides have turned, and Scott is needed as a sidekick to Hope’s Wasp.

It appears that Hope has been donning the Wasp suit for the past few years, considering how easy she makes being a superhero look. For those not familiar with the Wasp suit, it is essentially the same as Ant-Man’s suit, but includes blasters and wings for flight. The very jealous Scott allows Rudd to use his signature charm and humor. His comedy and uber-ego pair perfectly with Lilly and Douglas’s deadpan you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me looks and eye rolls. Rudd’s best comedic moment occurs early on in the film at Hank’s shrinkable laboratory when he goes from being Scott to another character for a few minutes.

Lilly stands out more as the Wasp this time around, considering she is now more of a co-lead. She steals the show from Rudd several times and is a glimpse into how future female-led Marvel films will look. Wasp’s standout is once again Michael Peña, who pops in every scene he is in. He keeps Ant-Man’s running jokes going and keeps Wasp from getting too serious. New cast members Pfeiffer and Walton Goggins don’t add much, but Pfeiffer could have a larger role to play down the road. Wasp also sets up Laurence Fishburne’s former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Dr. Bill Foster and “villain” Ghost/Ava (Hannah John-Kamen) for potential arcs in future installments.

The best part of the film is how enjoyable it is. The CGI and visual effects are fantastic and make you think that it is totally normal, natural, and realistic to shrink and enlarge people and items whenever and wherever. The look of going from normal size to very small to massive is perfection. The fight choreography is also great and should leave you with a smile on your face. The only way to describe Ant-Man and the Wasp is fun. It’s a truly enjoyable summer film that just happens to be about superheroes that can shrink. As per all Marvel films, stay through the credits for the two cut scenes. Wasp manages to contain an original story while wrapping up older plot lines and branching into the future. There are a lot of potential hints of what Marvel’s Phase 4 will look like in this film, so keep your eyes peeled!

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is More of the Same Old Thing

Do you ever get a sense of déjà vu when watching a movie? Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is more than déjà vu; it is essentially the same movie as Jurassic World. Substitute a character and setting and Jurassic World becomes Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The latest dinosaur pic might be the most unoriginal film I have seen in a while. Unfortunately, as expected, the trailers and TV commercials gave away every last plot point to Fallen Kingdom minus one that will undoubtedly be a central point of the trilogy’s conclusion. While Fallen Kingdom is enjoyable to an extent, it would have been nice to not know the entire plot going in.

Thanks to some of the worst marketing of the year, Fallen Kingdom is highly predictable and features minimal surprises. Nothing seems new about this film, except for one plot point that is dropped a little after the half way point and is never fully discussed. For the sake of not spoiling the one thing the marketing didn’t show, I won’t say what this moment is. However, if you have seen the film, you should know what I am talking about. The new parts of Fallen Kingdom are the characters, some settings, the latest genetically engineered dinosaur, and the horrific themes that are not appropriate for children.

The film introduces some troubling themes to the Jurassic franchise that certainly didn’t feel necessary. Animal abuse, cruelty, and trafficking, child abuse, and stone cold murder plague the film. Fallen Kingdom also plays with your emotions by showing graphic images of dinosaurs being killed by each other, that lovely volcano that was never mentioned until it was about to explode, and drowning. It’s actually kind of awful to watch the CGI dinosaurs go through so much in just the first half hour or so, but it gets worse as the film progresses. If you thought the characters were unjust and awful in Jurassic World, then you probably won’t be able to deal with the latest batch of terrible human beings in Fallen Kingdom.

The script is pretty much the same thing other than those few minor changes. In the three years since the Jurassic World theme park was destroyed by the Indominus Rex, the downright stupid characters still haven’t learned the dangers of dinosaurs. There’s still a group that wants to militarize the animals, and yes, Dr. Wu (BD Wong) is still plugging away and creating even deadlier dinosaurs! Sound familiar yet? These people don’t seem to ever learn their lesson and clearly don’t know the franchise’s tagline: “Life finds a way.” Can you guess what happens next?

The real tragedy of Fallen Kingdom is the underuse of former franchise star Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm. He seems to be one of two people who actually have a brain in this franchise and realizes the true danger of what has been done. His speech about letting the dinosaurs die off instead of saving them bookends the film in a scene that was obviously cut in two. Fallen Kingdom only brings back three characters from Jurassic World, and the rest appear to never have existed. Along with Wu, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) return and do the exact same things they did in the last film. At least Owen has the same mindset as Malcolm in this one.

Pratt and Howard’s roles are exactly the same: Pratt does all the work by himself as Howard stands around looking uninterested. Claire has an unrealistic character change in Fallen Kingdom by being the head of a dinosaur protection group. It doesn’t make sense that the very uptight businesswoman, who had never interacted with a dinosaur and didn’t consider them real animals until a very bad day in Jurassic World, is now the world’s top preacher for saving the creatures. But, she does wear a drastically more functional outfit this time around! Claire and Owen’s lackeys, Zia (Daniella Pineda) and Franklin (Justice Smith), are wasteful characters that unfortunately only exist to make the film more diverse. Zia and Franklin are useless characters to fill up space on the screen. Rafe Spall’s evil Eli Mills was at least somewhat interesting.

The CGI dinosaurs are easily the best part of the film. All of your favorites make an appearance at some point, including Jurassic World’s standout Mosasaurus. I really liked Fallen Kingdom’s new Indoraptor and thought it was a big improvement on the Indominus Rex. The Indoraptor’s abilities are reminiscent of the dinosaurs in the original trilogy. The animals keep the film enjoyable, but the miserable script and predictably bring Fallen Kingdom down a few notches. Without the spoilers, the film could have been good. Instead, it’s decent at best.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

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