2020年2月25日 星期二

"Stamboul Train" by Graham Green (1932)


"'I dance.  I'm off to Constantinople.  A girl's ill in an English show there.'  For a moment with the girl's hand in hers Mabel Warren felt flustered with a longing to be generous in an absurd obvious way.  Why not give up the hope of keeping Janet Pardoe and invite the girl to break her contract and take Janet's place as her paid companion?  'You are so pretty,' she said aloud."

Graham Greene has been discussed here a lot, so I'll leave off the biographical details.  My thoughts on his Journey Without Maps are here, and my thoughts on his A Burnt-Out Case are here.  Many of his other books have been discussed in other entries, but I'll be damned if I can remember what those entries are.

...and to eliminate a lot of confusion, "Stamboul" in the title refers to Istanbul, also known as Constantinople.  Thus the "Stamboul train" is none other than the famous Orient Express, which was this book's alternate title in the States.  The success of Orient Express lead to an American film of the same name, and also to a British television series which used the American title.  Greene hated both filmed versions of his story, and given the book's frankly homosexual characters this fact is not surprising.

In Stamboul Train several passengers aboard the Orient Express travel to Constantinople.  There's an enigmatic doctor bent on restoring his reputation.  There's a chorus girl bound for parts unknown.  There's a Jewish merchant bent on rising above his station.  Greene describes each of these characters in meticulous detail, and their individual moral failings nicely overlap as the story progresses.

It's one of Greene's earlier efforts, and doesn't quite exhibit the steady hand evident in later novels.  It's good, yes, but the earlier parts of the book definitely put style over substance.  By the second half it hits its stride and manages to arrive and a satisfying conclusion, but the first half is a bit of a mess.

I'd recommend this book, but only if you've read Greene's more famous novels.  I like the way the author probes his characters' moral failings, and even if the ending doesn't quite satisfy it's still an engaging story.

Related Entries:

"Suttree" by Cormac McCarthy (1979)
"Cotton" (a.k.a. "The Ballad of Lee Cotton") by Christopher Wilson (2005)
"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett (2009)
"The Story of My Teeth" by Valeria Luiselli (2015)

2020年2月20日 星期四

Some Other Movies From 1975 (2)


This is my second pass at 1975, so for background on the year in film I'll just refer you to the Some Other Movies From 1975 entry.

I was also thinking that some historical perspective on these years in film might be in order.  In other words, according to Wikipedia, the following things happened in 1975:
  • The Altair 8800 was released, sparking the microcomputer revolution.
  • Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac.
  • The Watergate Scandal happened.
  • OPEC raised crude oil prices by 10%.
  • Gerald Ford became President after Nixon's resignation.
  • Keith Jarrett played The Koln Concert (great album).
  • Margaret Thatcher rose to lead the UK Conservative Party.
  • After the conclusion of the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese began working their way down to Saigon.
  • Jeff Beck released Blow by Blow (another great album).
  • Microsoft was founded in someone's garage.
  • Jimmy Hoffa went missing (see: The Irishman for details).
  • NBC aired the first episode of Saturday Night Live.
  • The world's population stood at just over 4 trillion.
Linked titles can be watched in their entirety on YouTube.




Excellent

1. The Passenger

Auteur director Michelangelo Antonioni helmed this story of a journalist who borrows another man's identity.  Jack Nicholson stars as the journalist, with Maria Schneider as a young woman he picks up along the way.  I have no doubt many people have obsessed over that shot of the town square near the end of this movie.

2. Picnic at Hanging Rock

Several young women go missing during a school outing in 19th century Australia.  Peter Weir directed.  This was the film that broke him into the mainstream, and it's wonderfully atmospheric.

Fun Fact: If you look real hard you'll notice actress Jacki Weaver as one of the school employees.  37 years later, Weaver would appear as Bradley Cooper's mom in The Silver Linings Playbook.

3. Grey Gardens

Weirdly fascinating documentary about a mother and daughter living in a New York mansion.  However bad you think your life is, it's probably not as bad as what these two women had to deal with every day.  It sounds depressing, but I walked away from it feeling very good about where I am and what I have.

Fun Fact: The mother and daughter documented in this film were close relations of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, former First Lady of the United States.




Some Good Ones

1. Man Friday

This film is Robinson Crusoe told from the indigenous point of view.  Peter O'Toole stars as Crusoe, with Richard Roundtree as his Man Friday.  The parts where Roundtree sings are embarrassing and could have been avoided altogether, but aside from that this movie still has a lot to say about intercultural relations and the "white man's burden."

2. Let's Do It Again

It's creepy to see Bill Cosby engaging in sex talk with his female costars.  Did any of the beautiful women in this movie receive "the Cosby treatment?"  Seems likely.

In Let's Do It Again Cosby and costar/director Sidney Poitier go to New Orleans to gamble their lodge's savings.  It's predictably well-acted and the story is well thought out.  The Curtis Mayfield soundtrack works well too.  My only complaint is that Sidney Poitier doesn't have much to do in front of the camera.

Fun Fact: The Notorious B.I.G., a.k.a. Biggie Smalls, took his name from this movie.

3. Sholay

Amitabh Bachnan and Dharmendra star as two criminals hired to apprehend the local warlord.  This is one of the most famous Bollywood movies, and I've been hearing about it for decades.  In tone it resembles one of Sergio Leone's films, with high production values evident throughout.  Like all such movies it's LONG, but if you have the patience it's a very engrossing film.  The songs are good, too.

Fun Fact: The plot of this movie is loosely based on Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai.

4. Yeong-ja's Heydays

After Parasite's unparalleled success the Korean Film Archive added many movies the Korea Classic Film channel on YouTube.  This channel offers a wide variety of award-winning South Korean films from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.  If you're curous about South Korean movies it's a good place to start.

In Yeong-ja's Heydays a factory worker falls in love with a girl newly arrived in Seoul from the countryside.  After he's sent away to serve in Vietnam, he returns to find a woman very different from the girl he remembers.  It's a good (if somber) movie that must have scandalized many Korean moviegoers at the time.  

5. Silent Action

"Are you suggesting that I demagnetized the tape?"  Funny to see those reel-to-reel tape recorders in 2020.  In this day and age I wouldn't even know where to find one.

In this Italian whodunnit the police investigate a series of murders.  The director, Sergio Martino, did some giallo films later on, and this film, although not particularly memorable, shows a professional hand.

6. Carry On Behind

British sex comedy in which double entendres abound.  It's not without a certain element of cringe, but it managed to win me over.  According to Wikipedia there were 31 (!) Carry On films between 1958 and 1992.




Blaxploitation

1. Friday Foster

Pam Grier stars as... a photographer?  A photographer's assistant?  A journalist?  To be honest I'm not exactly sure what she stars as, and her reason for being in this movie seems to have more to do with her impressive rack than whatever role she's playing.  I'm even less certain about Yaphet Kotto's job.  Maybe he's just her... friend?

I'm at still greater pains to explain the plot of this movie.  Apparently someone's trying to destroy "black unity?"  Anyway, Friday Foster investigates (and sleeps) her way through a series of prominent black community members, leading her to the whitest of all the black community members, who may or may not be the bad guy.  There's also some guy in a wheelchair, but the movie never bothers to explain who he is.

Grier appeared in this a year after Foxy Brown and two years after Coffy.  It was a transitional period in her career, and the 80s would see her in both various TV roles and lower-budget action films.

Carl Weathers also appears in this movie.  It was his second film and his first speaking role.



Some Bad Ones

1. Mr. Sycamore

Jason Robards stars as a postman who hopes to metamorphosize into a tree.  It was adapted from a play, it feels like a play, and the premise isn't enough to sustain an entire movie.




Cheesy Goodness


1. Psychic Killer

So... um... the convict gets psychic powers from the amulet given to him by a fellow inmate?  And then he goes about getting revenge on the people who "wronged" him?  Except for the butcher, I guess.  They never explain about the butcher.  And I'm also not clear about the land developer guy.  And... um... how does the cop get that done in the end, exactly?  Wouldn't an autopsy be in order?

Whatever.  The music's very effective, and that scene where the cop looks into the rearview mirror and sees the killer is surpsingly creepy.  This movie is more entertaining than it has any right to be, and at 1.5 hours it never overstays its welcome.

The guy who plays the psychic killer happened to be Timothy Hutton's dad.  The guy who plays the detective did a lot of TV.  Ditto for the psychiatrist lady.  The most famous person in this movie, ironically enough, is Della Reese, who's in it for less than five minutes.

2. Murder on Flight 502

"Go on, lick your own juice!  Taste it!  I want you to taste it!"

Low budget successor to 1970s Airport.  This was a TV movie, and also an attempt to cash in on the 70s disaster movie craze.  The Towering Inferno it's not.  The Poseidon Adventure it's not.  It's not even the original Airport, and that movie wasn't very good.

In 2020 the most famous cast member has to be Farah Fawcett, who was still married to Lee Majors at the time.  The other stewardess is played by Brooke Adams, whose fame - like Fawcett's - waned after the decade ended.  Robert "Unsolved Mysteries" Stack, future congressman Sonny Bono, Danny Bonaduce (!) and various others round out the cast.

The cop's "interrogation" at the end though.  One of the most homoerotic things ever.  And what was the bad guy's plan exactly?  And why gather the witnesses?  A nervous breakdown is one thing, but outright psychosis?

3. Mahogany

Poor Diana Ross.  She just needs a good man to support her, and instead she's either Anthony Perkins' chocolate fantasy or Billy Dee William's support system.

I got about halfway through this movie before realizing I'd seen it before.  That modeling sequence - you don't get any more 70s than that.  Ross isn't an awesome actress, and this movie was clearly intended as a vehicle for her fabulousness, but you can catch glimpses of original director Tony Richardson's artistry in the finished product.




Porn?

1. The Image

Sadomasochism for the sake of sadomasochism, or "the best erotic film ever made?"  I aqcuired this one without knowing anything about it, and it took a few minutes before I realized just what kind of movie I was watching.  Radley Metzger directed it, and if you're familier with his "porno chic" aesthetic you'll know exactly what's on offer.

Related Entries:

Superhero Movies From October 2018 Onward (10)
Upcoming Superhero Movies in the Order I Want to See Them 3
Some Other Movies From 2019
The Other Movie Oscars: The Late 1970s

2020年2月19日 星期三

"Wild" by Cheryl Strayed (2012)


"My legs trembled as I stepped onto the rockslide in a half squat, fearful that my usual hunching in a remotely upright position would upset the rocks and cause them to slide en masse farther down the mountain, carrying me with them."

Cheryl Strayed is a writer living in Portland, Oregon.  Before writing Wild she wrote a novel, Torch, published in 2006.  During the same year Wild was published, Vintage Books also released Tiny Beautiful Things, her self-help book.  Wild was given the film treatment in 2014.

In Wild the author hikes a section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) after her mother's death and the breakup of her marriage.  She quickly learns that hiking this famous route is a lot more difficult than she imagined, and her struggles along the trail help her to come to terms with both personal failings and recent tragedies.

It's a well written book that doesn't overstay its welcome.  Sure, the author comes across as a bit self-absorbed at times, but what she offers in Wild seems to be a faily authentic account of what really happened.  Sure, opening up more of the book to the people she met along the trail would have made Wild more interesting, but from the outset that she wasn't writing that kind of book.

Related Entries:

"The Devil Wears Prada" by Lauren Weisberger (2003)
"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett (2009)
"Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life" by William Finnegan (2015)
"Choke" by Chuck Palahniuk (2001)*

*Palahniuk's book is included because he also lives in Portland, and because he was a member of Strayed's writing circle.

2020年2月13日 星期四

"Pet Sematary" by Stephen King (1983)


"'He got that far and then here comes Spot out of the dark, not runnin' like he usually did, ready to jump all over him he was so glad to see him, but just walkin' waggin' his tail, and my dad dropped that lard bucket and stepped back.  I don't know b'what he would have turned tail and run except his back hit the picket fence and then he just stood there, looking at the dog.'"

Stephen King?  You know Stephen King, right?  The guy who writes all the books set in Maine?  The guy who shows up occasionally in the movies?

In Pet Sematary, a young married doctor moves to Maine and everything goes very wrong from there.  No sooner is his family unpacking the car than some old guy from across the road is showing him around the local pet cemetery, and also showing him how to raise the dead.

It's a good book, even if the characters seem to make irrational choices.  I suppose you could chalk the "irrational" part up to the influence of the Indian burial ground three miles away.  What really hampers the narrative is the way King telegraphs an important death halfway through the book, thus negating the shock value this death might have had.  Yes, we've all seen one of the two movies or both, but before either of the two movies appeared this aspect of the book had to be irritating.

If you've seen both of the movie adaptations you'll know that the first one is far superior to the second.  The first one, as it happens, also streamlines the plot of the book quite a bit, and this makes for a more effective telling of the same story.  The movie could easily be called "schlocky" whereas the book could be accused of meandering.  I guess between "schlocky" and "meandering" you'd have to pick your poison.  If you ask me, I think both are good for different reasons.

Just don't bother with the 2019 film.  It's terrible.

Related Entries:

"It" by Stephen King (1986)
"The Devil Wears Prada" by Lauren Weisberger (2003)
The Remembrance of Earth's Past Trilogy by Cixin Liu (2014)
"Suttree" by Cormac McCarthy (1979)

2020年2月6日 星期四

Superhero Movies From October 2018 Onward (10)

For reviews of older superhero movies click here and here.  It felt like time to get rid of the "baggage" those older entries carried, so I'm starting again from October 2018's Venom.

Oh and by the way, I think I'll stop reviewing these movies as a separate genre at the end of 2020.  Endgame has come and gone, the MCU is now an established brand, and to be honest I think most of the best superhero movies are behind us.  2020 seems like a good time to move on to movies as a whole, rather than focusing so much on whatever Marvel Studios, Warner Bros., or Sony are putting out.


Superhero Movies On The Way

Aquaman 2 (Taiwan Release Date Unknown, December 2022 in the the States)

Black Panther II (Taiwan Release Date Unknown, May 2022 in the States)

The Flash (?) (Sometime in 2021?)

Thor: Love and Thunder (Taiwan Release Date Unknown, November 2021 in the States)

The Suicide Squad (Taiwan Release Date Unknown, August 2021 in the States)

Spider-Man: Far From Home Sequel (Taiwan Release Date Unknown, July 2021 in the States)

The Batman (Taiwan Release Date Unknown, June 2021 in the States)

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (Taiwan Release Date Unknown, May 2021 in the States)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Taiwan Release Date Unknown, February 2021 in the States)

The Eternals (October 29 in Taiwan, November 6, 2020 in the States)

Venom 2 (Taiwan Release Date Unknown, October 2020 in the States)

Morbius, the Living Vampire (July 31, 2020 in both Taiwan and the States)

Wonder Woman 1984 (June 5, 2020 in both Taiwan and the States)

Black Widow (April 30, 2020 in Taiwan, May 2020 in the States)

The New Mutants (April 1 in Taiwan, April 3, 2020 in the States)

Bloodshot (February 21, 2020 in both Taiwan and the States)



Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)


What I Liked: The fight scenes are cool.  Ewan McGregor - in what little screen time this movie can afford him - makes a great villain.

What I Didn't Like: Everything else.  As a character Harley Quinn is a complete enigma - and not in an interesting way.  Huntress and Black Canary are far easier to relate to, but again, Harley Quinn's endless monologues push them into the background.  To top it off this movie is terribly, existentially boring.

Future/Sequels: Lord I hope not.  Wonder Woman 1984 is due this summer, and James Gunn's The Suicide Squad is due next year, but if the directors of those movies have any sense they'll distance their films from this one.


Joker


What I Liked: This movie is brilliant.  Joaquin Phoenix doesn't disappoint, and director Todd Philips more than rises to the occasion.  Just the way the title pops up in the beginning is masterful.  This is the kind of movie that sparks debates, avoids safe choices, and gets people riled up.  It's also a harrowing portrait of both one man's struggle with mental illness and the uncaring nature of the society he lives in.

What I Didn't Like: This is a small complaint, but I think this movie tried a bit too hard to tie the Joker into the larger Batman mythos.  Having Thomas Wayne in the movie was enough; there was no need to include other members of the Wayne family.

Future/Sequels: Please Joaquin Phoenix, DON'T do another one.  And don't appear in anything else Batman-related.  This one was just about perfect the way it was.  Just leave it there and it'll age like wine.


Spider-Man: Far From Home


What I Liked: Zendaya.  She was my favorite thing about this movie.  Her character holds the whole thing together.  Without MJ this movie wouldn't make a lot of sense.

Also Mysterio's illusions.  I don't think I'm giving any plot points away when I mention them.  His illusions are some of the more visually impressive things in the MCU.

And speaking Mysterio's illusions, the battle at the end is great.  Setting this battle in London was a good choice.

What I Didn't Like: You can see the plot twist coming from a mile away.  Maybe not calling him "Mysterio" right of the bat would have helped.

Future/Sequels: A third one seems likely.  Still no word as to whether this take on Spider-man will tie into Sony's other Spiderverse films.


X-Men: Dark Phoenix


Got bored and saw it the other day.  It was blazing hot outside, and there wasn't much else to do.

What I Liked: For one thing it wasn't nearly as bad as some of the reviews would lead you to believe.  It's definitely NOT great, but if you were able to sit through Apocalypse you'll be able to sit through this one.  It's actually not bad up until Jean visits the house, though after that point...

What I Didn't Like: At times this movie just doesn't make sense.  WHY do the cops show up after Jean visits that house?  And WHY do the two mutant factions fight in New York?  And WHY do the aliens insist on boarding the train from the other end, when they're clearly walking all along its length, thus making it incredibly easy for the X-Men to fight them off?  

To make things worse, Sophie Turner really can't carry a movie.  Watching her interact with some of the other, more talented cast members is truly cringeworthy.  As bad as this movie is, it's still better than X3and yet I found myself missing Famke Janssen throughout the film.

Most inexplicable of all is Magneto.  First he says revenge is wrong and that he's given up on it.  Then someone gets killed and he's all about revenge again.  Then he learns about the Phoenix Force and he's all about saving Jean.  This, and that magnetism/telekinesis battle between him and Jean is the most unintentionally hilarious thing I've seen in a long time.

Future/Sequels: As far as anyone knows, The New Mutants is still coming out next year.  After that it'll be a long wait before we see Marvel Studios' take on the same set of characters.


Avengers: Endgame


What I Liked: Everything.  This movie is awesome from beginning to end.

What I Didn't Like: Only two (very small) complaints: 1) Bruce and Nebula's explanation for their "heist" probably isn't going to satisfy anyone who bothers to think it through, and 2) the part at the end where all the "Marvel superheroines" line up and go into battle seems a bit too much like checking off an item on a checklist.

Future/Sequels: The next MCU offering is Spider-Man: Far From Home later this summer.  No other films have been given a release date as yet.  I think it's fair to say that Marvel will make a big announcement soon.


Hellboy


What I Liked: Uh... it's more... British than the original?  That's good, right?  More interesting?

And uh... the fight with the giants is kind of cool.  Brief but cool.

This movie has the quirkiness that made the Mignola comics good.  Upping the gore was also a good idea.  Not sure about the humor though.  Seems like they should have doubled down on that part.  Making this movie funnier would have also differentiated it from the original.  As it is it strays too close to the Del Toro version.

What I Didn't Like: It's pretty bad right from the beginning.  For me the worst thing was the sequence explaining Hellboy's origins.  This part of the movie ventures so close to Del Toro's version that you can't help but compare this one to that one, and this one is always going to suffer by comparison.  They should have avoided that altogether.

Future/Sequels: Ha ha not likely.


Shazam!


What I Liked: Zachary Levi and Asher Angel are both examples of great casting, the story is well thought out, and the battle at the end takes some interesting twists and turns.  I consider Shazam! a vast improvement over Aquaman, which was trying to do too much in too short a time, and also Captain Marvel, which was in my opinion one hot mess of a movie.  Shazam! is much smaller-scale compared to those other two films, but its smallness works to its advantage.  It's very focused and to the point.

Mark Strong, who was wasted on Martin Campbell's Green Lantern, has much more to do in Shazam!  Even if his reasons for being "evil" aren't that well thought out, he's still a good (bad) villain.

What I Didn't Like: The battle at the end goes on a bit too long.  I think shortening it would have made for a better movie.  The introduction of the rest of the Marvel Family feels a bit rushed, even if it was gratifying to see them onscreen together.

Future/Sequels: No definite plans for any sequels as yet, but one of Shazam's other villains is introduced in a post-credits scene.  It's early to say, but I think this movie will be well received and I'd be surprised if a sequel isn't announced soon.


Captain Marvel


What I Liked: There's a part about halfway through, when Carol Danvers is reunited with an old friend.  In that part you can see Brie Larson's skill as an actress.

The fight on the spaceship near the end is oddly satisfying, but some of my satisfaction may have to do with 90s soundtrack, and the fact that I was a much younger guy when those songs were everywhere.  Nostalgia, in other words.

What I Didn't Like: Going back to the comic books, I never found Carol Danvers especially interesting, and this movie did nothing to change my mind.  Really, what is her reason for doing anything in this film?  At what point does her character change or make any real kind of discovery?

She's also so much more powerful than anyone she comes up against in this movie.  There's no sense of threat when "danger" strikes.  Jude Law?  Nope.  The Skrulls?  Not really.  Ronan the Accuser?  Their confrontation is a non-event.

I've also got to say, the explanation given for Nick Fury losing his eye really bothered me.  It's always seemed like this event should be of crucial importance, but in the movie it's explained in such an offhand manner.  The randomness of this explanation diminished the entire film.

Future/Sequels: Strap yourself in because Avengers: Endgame is less than two months away.  After Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home Marvel has announced no other films, though if Captain Marvel does well I'm sure we'll see a sequel.  I've heard a lot of talk about an Eternals movie, but we'll see.

I think what's going to make or break a Captain Marvel sequel is the Asian market, especially China.  If it goes over big in Beijing and Shanghai (as Aquaman did) you can be sure there will be another one.  If, however, this movie fails to find an audience in such places, I imagine Kevin Feige will start vaguely alluding to "future adventures" without making any real commitment.




Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Does this one count?  Batman and the Justice League are in it.  It also features the newer and older versions of Aquaman.

What I Liked: It's a funny movie, though not as good as the first.  This said, it's not nearly as hyper as the first one, which might be a relief for those who found the first film slightly overwhelming.

What I Didn't Like: It does drag a bit toward the end.  It's weird to say, but I found myself having to really concentrate on Lego Movie 2.  There are SO many references, to so many things, that after the first hour my brain got tired.  

Future/Sequels: There might be a sequel to the Lego Batman movie, though there's no release date as yet.  There might also be The Billion Brick Race.




Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

What I Liked: Everything.  In my opinion this movie's awesome from start to finish.  The characters, the plot, the animation, the soundtrack, all of it's great.  I suppose it depends on how it does financially, but Spider-Verse could be a real game-changer for CBMs.

For me the best part of the film was the Bill Sienkiewicz-inspired sequence halfway through.  I've been a huge fan of that guy for years, and seeing his art animated almost brought tears to my eyes.  That version of the Kingpin?  That's all Bill Sienkiewicz.

What I Didn't Like: Small complaint: no Spider-Woman.  I've always liked Spider-Woman more than Spider-Man, and it would've been wonderful to see Jessica Drew (finally) show up in this movie.

Future/Sequels: There's talk that Spider-Woman could feature in the sequel alongside Spider-Gwen and Silk, but such plans are tentative of course.  It's entirely possible that a sequel would feature Spider-Man 2099 instead.




Aquaman

What I Liked: Atlantis looks cool.  Amber Heard is easy on the eyes.  The battle in the end - aside from a ridiculous pause in the action for a predictably romantic moment - looks amazing.

What I Didn't Like: Weird moments of exposition.  Instead of showing the audience what's happening/has happened, the characters in this movie often feel the need to stop whatever they're doing and explain things.  The only part of this movie where the action flows seamlessly is when Aquaman and Black Manta have their big showdown halfway through.

The part in the beginning about Aquaman's parents could have been removed entirely.  It adds absolutely nothing to the story, and starting the movie from the adult Aquaman's first appearance would have made a lot more sense.

This movie gets dumber as it goes along.  By the end I was laughing at certain scenes and bits of dialogue, and I wasn't the only one.  And before someone chimes in with "at least it doesn't take itself so seriously," let's remember there's a difference between laughing WITH a movie and laughing AT a movie.

The small ray of hope being that it's not as terrible as Justice League.  Not that this is saying much.

Future/SequelsShazam!, also set in the DCEU, will be out in a few months.  After that it's a long wait until Wonder Woman 1984.  Aquaman 2?  It's kind of early to tell, but the movie's been doing well in China, and those wanting a completely brainless superhero romp will be all over this one.




Venom

What I Liked: After a really clunky beginning there are some great action sequences.  Everything after Venom shows up is much better than the 15 minutes that try (and fail) to set up the story.  The fight between Venom and Riot near the end is very good.

What I Didn't Like: That beginning part.  It feels like they weren't sure what kind of movie they were making.  Horror?  Action?  Science fiction?  Going more for the "body horror" elements would have improved the film, and the spaceship/alien invasion subplot could have been dispensed with altogether.

As clunky as the beginning is, the dialogue throughout the movie is by far the worst part.  None of the actors seem at ease with what they're saying, and a couple of lines are unintentionally hilarious.

Future/Sequels: There are plans for a sequel with Woody Harrelson's Carnage in a bigger role.  I think that after setting up the general premise, a sequel is bound to be better.  Harrelson would also make a great villain.  Last I heard, Sony's next comic-based movie will be Morbius the Living Vampire, with Jared Leto as Morbius.  There may be some crossover between Venom and Morbius.

Related Entries:

Comic Book Interlude 11
Upcoming Superhero Movies in the Order I Want to See Them 3
Some Other Movies From 2019
The Other Movie Oscars: The Late 1970s