D: Bryan Singer
20th Century Fox/MGM/United Artists/Bad Hat Harry (Bryan Singer, Christopher McQuarrie & Gilbert Adler)
W: Christopher McQuarrie & Nathan Alexander
DP: Newton Thomas Sigel
Ed: John Ottman
Mus: John Ottman
Tom Cruise (Col. Claus Von Stauffenberg), Kenneth Branagh (Maj. Gen. Henning Von Tresckow), Bill Nighy (Gen. Friedrich Olbricht), Terence Stamp (Col. Gen. Ludwig Beck), Tom Wilkinson (Col. Gen. Friedrich Fromm), Carice Van Houten (Nina Von Stauffenberg)
It's a surprise that a film like Valkyrie did not get put into production in the 1960's, to cash in on classic war films like The Dirty Dozen and others of the same cloth. It would have seemed the perfect film for John Wayne to find himself grossly miscast in. Instead, we have Tom Cruise woefully miscast, but aside from this casting faux pas, Valkyrie is not such a bad film.
Historical liberties have clearly been taken in this biographical story about high ranking members of the Third Reich, who plan a mutinous assassination of Adolf Hitler.
It's all quite obvious how it's going to end, but the film does still manage to have a good amount of thrills. It's just a shame it goes for the Hollywood blockbuster angle instead of going for something more substantial.
D: Ruben Fleischer
Sony/Columbia/Marvel/Tencent (Avi Arad, Matt Tolmach & Amy Pascal)
W: Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg & Kelly Marcel [based on characters created by David Michelinie & Todd MacFarlane]
DP: Matthew Libatique
Ed: Maryann Brandon & Alan Baumgarten
Mus: Ludwig Göransson
Tom Hardy (Eddie Brock / Venom), Michelle Williams (Anne Weyling), Riz Ahmed (Carlton Drake / Riot), Scott Haze (Roland Treece), Reid Scott (Dr. Dan Lewis), Jenny Slate (Dr. Dora Skirth)
Box Office Poison it may not be, but a poor opening weekend will be hugely disappointing to the executives at Sony, who were probably expecting a big cocaine bonus before moving on to fucking over another franchise. As far as I'm concerned, it serves them right, since they don't really have any respect for the movies and only see it as a get rich quick scheme, demonstrated in the way they've remade movies which didn't need to be remade and their insistence on holding onto some rights to comic book characters just so Marvel can't have them.
For those unfamiliar with the Venom character, he appeared in 2007's Spider-Man 3 as an evil opposite to Peter Parker's superhero. In short, it's a symbiotic alien lifeform which integrates with its host and possesses superpowers such as strength, speed and biting people's heads off.
This origin story stars Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, an investigative reporter with a habit of rubbing people up the wrong way, and when he asks the "wrong questions" to the unscrupulous head of a shady science company he is subsequently fired and dumped by his fiancé. Broke, desperate and alone, he investigates further and is attacked by the parasitic life-form and becomes the antihero of the title.
Though Tom Hardy does a good job with what he's given, Venom has many problems. The first being that the pacing of first half of the movie is so boring and dull by the time it gets to the good stuff you may be beyond caring. The script is nowhere near as dark as it could have been, and with films like Deadpool and Logan in comparison, it feels as though Sony were worried that this film would get an R-rating and therefore lose its ideal demographic audience. It also wastes so much time setting up a showdown with a bad guy at the expense of a potential twist which could have been a startling surprise in an otherwise film that plays it safe with all the usual comic book tropes and cliches.
The worst thing by far about the film however, are the CGI effects, which would have looked passable in 1997 but for a big budget movie with a 2018 release, you'll be forgiven for asking where all the money went... the answer is likely to be up Sony executives' nostrils.
For a film about a parasitic life form, it's more than fair to say that Venom needs Tom Hardy an awful lot more than Tom Hardy needs Venom.
Javier Bardem plays El Douchebag, who wants to fuck Scarlet Johansson and Rebecca Hall at the same time (it's hard to envy him that) but the problem is that I found his character unbelievably slimy, the female characters were completely scatty & unlikeable and the story was incredibly pretentious.
Woody Allen movies can be very hit and miss with me. I enjoy the neurotic comedies (Annie Hall, Bullets Over Broadway) and don't mind some of his more self-indulgent movies (Midnight In Paris, The Purple Rose Of Cairo), but this ranks alongside his movies which I find grotesquely overrated (Hannah & Her Sisters, Mighty Aphrodite)
I know what Woody Allen is trying to say with these movies. He's trying to preach his bohemian-esque belief that it's okay to fuck whoever you want, including your adopted daughter. Creepy.
For big fans of the filmmaker only.
VICTORIA & ABDUL (12)
D: Stephen Frears
Universal/BBC/Working Title/Perfect World (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Tracey Seaward & Beeban Kidron)
W: Lee Hall [based on the book by Shrabani Basu]
DP: Danny Cohen
Ed: Melanie Ann Oliver
Mus: Thomas Newman
PD: Alan MacDonald
Cos: Consolata Boyle
Judi Dench (Queen Victoria), Ali Fazal (Abdul Karim), Tim Piggott-Smith (Henry Ponsonby), Eddie Izzard (Bertie, Prince of Wales), Michael Gambon (Robert Gascoyne-Cecil), Olivia Williams (Jane Spencer)
Twenty years after Oscar-nominated Mrs. Brown, Judi Dench reprises her role as Queen Victoria for this historical fantasia which is pretty much the same thing.
Set during the final years of Victoria's reign and based on real events, the queen develops a relationship with Abdul Karim, a Muslim Indian servant who was initially invited to Britain only to make a presentation to her majesty.
The film ticks so many politically correct boxes, it's not a surprise at all that it was produced by the BBC, and with much of the story being presented in a non-serious way it's difficult to assess how much was actually true. Still, the performances are superb, especially from the two leads, Dame Judi Dench didn't quite nab an Oscar nomination for the performance this time around, though the film was recognised for costumes and makeup.
David Cronenberg's movies often follow themes of disease, addiction and obsession and Videodrome is right up there with The Fly (qv) as examples of the director's better works.
James Woods plays a sleazy cable TV executive whose network screens pornography, sexually perverse and controversial material. He stumbles across a pirated signal of Videodrome, a sadomasochistic snuff film channel and becomes addicted, not realising that it is brainwashing him.
Cronenberg's movie is very much a commentary on how media drives us and despite certain aspects of the movie being quite dated, the moral is still quite relevant. One thing that hasn't dated however, is Rick Baker's amazing special effects and makeup. Considering this movie is over 30 years old, the visuals are absolutely brilliant.
It's a surreal, disturbing and just plain weird sci-fi/horror, twisting fiction with reality, but it's a brilliant piece of filmmaking.