Reel Reviews: ‘Venom’ and ‘A Star is Born’ – New releases from different worlds

By on October 10, 2018

‘Venom’

Not to be confused with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which means this movie does not tie into the storyline engulfing The Avengers, Thanos, Ant-Man, et al., the latest comic book superhero film to grab the number one box office slot on opening weekend is “Venom” (followed by “A Star is Born” in the #2 slot — see below).

An anti-hero tale, “Venom” is the story of Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), a rogue journalist who becomes the unwilling host for an alien symbiote. After escaping the research lab of bad guy Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), the liquid-like symbiote needs to bond with a host and it just so happens Brock is the perfect match. Drake wants his property back, so the battle is on.

Does this movie follow the storyline of the originating comics? Nah, not really. Making a Venom movie without a single reference to Spiderman is kind of a slap in the face to all comic geeks. This might be why the movie has fared so poorly with critics. The other reason may simply be “Venom” is too basic and Marvel fans are expecting a lot more than “hero beats bad guy and saves the girl” schlock.

Sorry, I forgot I was nerding out for the comic book fans. The first sighting of the alien symbiote comes in Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man #252 (May 1984) when it was thought to be a living costume available to our friendly neighborhood webslinger. The suit launches the popular Web of Spider-Man title in 1985 and the true character of Venom is revealed in 1988 and becomes one of Spidey’s most recognizable foes. So, to have a Venom movie without Spiderman is, honestly, a bunch of crap.

That said, there are parts of this movie I really liked, and it was entertaining. Venom is almost being set up as Marvel’s PG-13 (though a pretty rough PG-13 in my opinion) version of Deadpool, because he is funny and kicks butt.

The fourth reboot of “A Star is Born,” stars Lady Gaga (a.k.a. Stefani Germanotta, right) and Bradley Cooper, who also directs the film.

 ‘A Star is Born’

In full transparency, I must admit I have never seen any version* of “A Star is Born” until the latest version hit the screens this weekend. So, this review relies solely on the merit of the 2018 film starring Lady Gaga as Ally, a young, barely aspiring singer, and Bradley Cooper as Jack, a genuine rock star who is battling the effects of aging, depression, and substance abuse. When the two meet in a drag bar the flame of their love starts to smolder and soon the girl with the beautiful voice becomes the brightest star in their relationship. As Ally’s pop career climbs Jack’s luster starts to fade, but not before he starts down a path of self-destruction poised to take his now wife with him.

I really enjoyed this movie, but it is severely disjointed. The first part of the story is a magical ride of love, hope, and dreams with deep characters, rich dialogue, and superb acting, but halfway through, the story seems to lose focus as if Bradley Cooper the director became too distracted by Bradley Cooper the lead actor.

If you are a Gaga fan, love story fan, or like a movie rich with music “A Star is Born” is worth seeing on the big screen.

*The first “A Star is Born” was released in 1937 and starred Janet Gaynor (the first winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress) and Fredric March (“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” 1931). A remake in 1954 starred Judy Garland and James Mason; and more recently Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson played the lovers’ roles in 1976.

Agree or disagree? Reel Reviews works like this: 1) Watch a movie; 2) Send suggestions, comments and criticism to Michael at SomeProMCU@gmail.com.

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