V for Venom

WhatsApp Image 2019-03-03 at 11.31.16This new incarnation of Venom was given much hype even before there was a trailer.
In this Sony production a video journalist who prided himself on being the one to brake a story or expose cover ups, Eddie Brock stumbles into something not even he can comprehend.
After a confrontation with one of the world’s leading inventors Carlton Drack who is also head of the Life Foundation, Brock is fired and loses the woman he loves.
Feeling sorry for himself the last thing Brock wants is to get mixed up with Life Foundation again. Scientist Dora Skirth tells Brock people are dying and so he feels duty bound to investigate.
Skirth smuggles Brock into the labs at the Life Foundation centre. Here Brock encounters a friend, he tries to free her but in doing so she dies and leaves Brock with a dangerous infection. An infection known as Venom.
Fight scenes in sew and by the end it is symbiote against symbiote.
What is an alien movie without a romance? Though Eddie is trying to save the world and live with a symbiote inside him he also tries to get his ex-fiancée back as well as restart his career.
There is only so much one person can achieve, even if they do have an alien parasite inside them.

As someone with little knowledge of the Venom story I was unsure just how much I would like this move. Previously I had only seen the character of venom in Spiderman 3 (2007) as played by Topher Grace.
Of course, I had watched the new Venom trailers but found it hard to understand the deep hissing voice emanating from Venom.
Thankfully this was not the case when I bought the movie from Sky. I understood Venom perfectly.

I found the movie entertaining and funny however something seemed to be missing. Perhaps the missing element was Spiderman or any other super/anti-hero. While I think Tom Hardy and the rest of the cast did a good job it didn’t blow me away.
Another contributing factor is probably that the majority of the best parts of the movie were in the trailers, too often a mistake by movie makers.

Taking all of this into account I am still looking forward to the sequel particularly Woody Harrelson’s portrait of Carnage.

3/5 Wands /*/*/*

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The Greatest Showman or Complete Conman

person about to catch four dices
Photo by fotografierende on Pexels.com

Set in the late 1800’s this is a movie about one of the most famous “showman” P. T. Barnum. For 105 minuets we are shown the life and successes of P.T. We meet his “Freak show” acts and see how he acquires them.

To begin with we are shown P.T. as a mistreated child and eventually as a struggling office clerk who has overcome class division to marry the woman he loves, a well to do woman who is disinherited upon her marriage to P.T.

P.T. loses his job due to the company being liquidated. He has to return home on one of his daughter’s birthdays jobless and prospect less. P.T. whips together a toy out of the junk in his brief case.
Soon after P.T. manages to con – yes con – a bank into giving him a humongous loan.

He secures it without consulting his wife, Charity. P.T. uses the money to buy an old rundown museum. Though he gives the venture all he has, financially and physically, it fails to do as well as he had hoped.

That is until he starts to add in his “freaks” to the show. In the movie we see how P.T. convinces Charles Stratton to join his show by saying he will make him a general. After first telling Stratton “People laugh at you anyway why not get paid for it?”.

He hears Lettie Lutz singing and is adamant he needs her for his show. He is taken aback when he sees she is a bearded lady. It is then his daughter convinces her to join their “Freak show”.

When Barnum feels he has his cast he re-invents his museum calling it a circus. Things began well for Barnum and he was cultivating a crowd but soon there is uneasy in society about the open presences of these “Freaks”.

A side story line that has begun to appear is the love story between Phillip Carlyle and Anne Wheeler, who is considered a “freak” because she is a black trapes artist.

Barnum now having a successful circus decides he wants more and finds Jenny Lind. A famous Swedish opera singer Lind has yet to break America and Barnum wants to be the one to help her achieve this. Focusing on Lind, Barnum all but forgets his “freaks”.

Just as unrest becomes unbearable Barnum’s circus is burned down. Facing ruin Charity takes the children and returns to her parents.

Left with the idea that he will lose not only his fortune but also his family Barnum must think of a solution and fast.

Barnum has an epiphany, not just to stop putting Lind first, but also with no money for a new building to house the circus Barnum decides to save the circus he must use a tent.

There are musical numbers and dance sequence through out and all is well that ends well.

It seems that for the most part this movie is basically a work of fiction. Yes P.T. Barnum did exist but he was a long way from the kind hearted “freak” lover this movie paints him as.

For a start our bearded lady Lettie Lutz, is partial based on Annie Jones who Barnum bought from her parents when she was just nine months old.

Much of the story in the movie was twisted to show Barnum in a good way. Though the movie makes it seem that Barnum created the first “Circus” this is not true.

Not much of the movie seems to be based on real events at all. Here we see a doting father who couldn’t care more for his daughters when in real life Barnum was so disappointed in not having a son that he left his fortune to his grandson on the proviso that he double barrels his name to include Barnum.

With the hype this movie achieved I was devastated as I watched this “Amazing” movie over Christmas.

A wish-list cast and “great” sound track meant that I accepted the hype no question. Having failed to see it in the cinema I was delighted to find out that Sky had gifted it to me.

I set aside time specifically to enjoy it. No guests or food to look after just me and Hugh Jackman.

Though the romance at the start was utter cliché it didn’t put me off. I was transported when Barnum created a wishing machine for his girls.

15 minutes in and I should have stopped there. There is no doubt that the acting was good but it was bulldozed by everything else. The little to no facts, the clunky 90’s graphics and yes the un-synchronized dancing and sound-samey music.

The “love story” between Charles and Annie that was tacked on like an afterthought.

How romanticized the use of “freaks” were. As someone with a disability albeit a very discreet one, I couldn’t have found this more insulting.

Yes, people with deformities and disabilities worked in “freak shows” this, unfortunately was one of the only few ways in which these people could find work, and some small amount of money and or freedom. This does not mean that people like Barnum didn’t taking advantage, they did.

What kind of person buy’s someone else’s baby? And what kind of parent sells it?

These may be disturbing truths but what is more disturbing is the Hollywood spin on it.

I found it really annoyingly clenched that Charles falls for the most beautiful “freak”. If the makers were going to lie about everything else why not lie and have him fall in love with Lettie Lutz? Yes of course race is still a big issue, not least here in Ireland, and I do think it is important to address it. Having said that Annie is not, at least in modern day society, considered unattractive. Two “attractive” people fall in love? Stop the presses!

All in all, it lied to us, board me, and about the only issues not romanticized were class distinctions and racism.

For someone like me who is a working class, disabled, anti-racism, anti-sexism, etc. woman it was borderline torture to watch. I have heard rumors that there is a sequel coming out, I won’t be seeing that.

Had it not been for the glitzy cast I don’t think this movie would have done as well as it did. I don’t see much of anything that is redeemable about it.

2/5 wands /*/* -C.P.W.

The Crimes of J.K

If you are in any way like me you have been planning your excursion to Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald for about a year.

Though I devoured all the trailers the movie still had so many surprises on the night. I went to see the movie with a sister and my nephew.

The premise is simple, Grindelwald is to finally be tried for his crimes in Europe so must be transferred from the US to London, during which he escapes.

Free and at-large Grindelwald now presses on with his plan, gaining followers and fast. With fear still ripe in Paris Grindelwald convinces the magic community that if they do not follow him the Muggle community will bring another war.

The Ministry of Magic has grounded Newt, he is on their no-apparate list. There is one way the Ministry will lift this ban. Newt must agree to go to Paris and hunt down Credence bringing him in any way possible.

Newt is morally against this because he didn’t want to arrest Credence he wanted to help Credence. Newt knew that the Ministry didn’t want to help him but to contain him.

Newt went to the Ministry to discuss this and here we met Leta Lestrange, Newt’s future sister-in-law. It is evident that there is something more between Leta and Newt. Then we meet Newt’s brother Theseus Scamander, unlike his younger brother Theseus is broad and dark-haired.

Having told the Ministry to stick it Newt is about to leave the Ministry, Theseus gives Newt a hug. “They’re watching you,” his bother warns him in a whisper.

While in his basement Newt heard something breaking upstairs, he goes to investigate it and finds Jacob and Queenie. At once it looks as though Jacob is sick but without inquiring into this Newt runs to the door and calls for Tina,  it is revealed she is in Paris.

Jacobs actions are clumsy and Queenie suggests they all sit down to dinner. With his mind off Tina, Newt realises what is wrong with Jacob.

Jacob looks out his own eyes and sees that everything is pink and with radiating hearts. By now any Potterhead would know the signs. Queenie begs Newt to leave Jacob alone, to allow her to conclude her plan. Again Newt’s morals just won’t allow this. With a wave of his wand, Newt is congratulating Jacob on his engagement.

Words pass between the lovers and it is not long before the audience realises why it was that Queenie had Jacob under a love potion. Queenie storms out and disapparates leaving  Jacob in the rain.

This is of course when Dumbledore turns up. Newt is adamant he doesn’t want to get involved, in the search for Credence, he definitely doesn’t want to break the law. Dumbledore, on the other hand, convinces him that he, Dumbledore, is only offering a place of safety should the law be bent by accident.

(Que twinkle in eye)

Dumbledore is offering Newt the chance to save Credence and stop Grindelwald. Though Newt wants to do both but is reluctant to move against the Ministry. With Queenie running away to Tina in Paris and Dumbledore believing that Credence and Grindelwald are also there, Newt feels he has no choice but to reunite Jacob and Queenie, tell Tina that it is his brother getting married, not him, and, if possible save Credence from Grindelwald.

Keep your eyes peeled for Nickolas Flamel in Paris.

Credence has found his way into a circus as a cleaner. While travelling with this group Credence has fallen in love with Nagini. A beautiful woman who is also a Maledictus, she can shift from a snake into a woman and back. However, over time it becomes harder to turn back, one day she will remain in her snake form.

Nagini and Credence decide to run away from the circus together. Credence uses his freedom to search for the truth about his family.

When Newt turns down the trip to find Credence on the Ministry’s behalf they employ Grimmson instead. Only Grimmson has an ulterior motive and is using the Ministry to help Grindelwald find Credence first.

You would think with Tina, Newt, Grimmson and Grindelwald all looking for Credence this might just be enough, you would be wrong. This plot is about to take a twist the size of Gringotts. Enter Yusuf Kama, no idea who that is? you are not alone. It turns out that Leta Lestrange was not an only child, in fact, she had a half-brother.

This boy was believed to have a special power, some think that this prophecy was about Credence. Kama is one of them, however, he doesn’t want to kill Credence for this. If Credence is the lost heir Kama wants to kill him because  Leta’s father, Lestrange, hypnotised Kama’s mother to leave the family. She later died giving birth to Leta.

On his father’s deathbed, Kama made the unbreakable vow, promising to kill the one thing Lestrange loved most in the world which was his son.

Kama moves in to kill Credence when Leta tells the terrible truth. Credence cannot be the lost Lestrange heir because Leta killed her brother when he was a baby. Replacing her brother with another baby close by, Leta left the sinking ship and got on a lifeboat. She watched as her brother and the woman who held him both drowned.

Credence was the baby who made it to America but he was not the Lestrange baby. It seemed that even though Kama bore the mark of the unbreakable vow he had no vow to fulfil.

Using the Lestrange story Grindelwald conscripted his audience to the Lestrange crypt He stood in the centre of a church like auditorium and spouted propaganda. Using the future to fill witches and wizards with fear. Fear of war and of actions by the muggles, fear of one another while proclaiming only to love.

Sides are chosen and some leave us more than bereft. Blue flames spring up around Grindelwald and only the truly devout can make it through.

Her last action is to protect those she loves and in doing so Leta forfeits her life. The dark side now have Credence and Queenie, and we “the good guys” are again left asking what was it all for? the greater good?

*

The movie was filmed elegantly, with the use of camera angles and graphics, it gave movement and lightness to the magic.

People being incorporated into the moving bricks of buildings, Nagini transforming into the sake, even the dark, black, viscus fabric that appears on the streets of Paris, covering the surrounding buildings.

The action moved too fast at times with so many characters to try to keep in mind. It took me quite a few minutes to realise the dark figure that had saved Jacob was Tina.

While a much darker movie than the first, it still had a few laugh out loud moments. With the return of some fury favourites and new monsters, you’ll be afraid to blink.

Grindelwald’s followers’ actions are conducted in Gestapo like movements. They move ruthlessly and kill without compassion, even ending the life of a muggle toddler.

The script was not perhaps as fluffy and light as the first movie but this is to be expected when dealing with such a dark plot. Growing darker just as they did in Harry Potter.

As for the acting, not once did any of the acting cause me to doubt that I was in the magical world and that it was in danger.

Of all the newcomers, for me, the acting of both Zoë Kravitz and Claudia Kim. Their acting skills added to those of returning cast, in particular, the brilliance of Grindelwald played by Johnny Deep and the ever-changing Credence played by Ezra Miller.

In a category, all of their own were the cast playing younger incarnations of the main cast. Thea Lamb and Ruby Woolfenden who both play Leta at different times in her childhood and Joshua Shea’s astounding portrayal of a young Newt.

Credit where it is due, Jude did an incredible job as a younger Dumbledore, however, I still miss the Irish accent.

*

Though I was shocked at parts, upset and downright traumatized when Credence’s “real name” is revealed, sorry you’ll have to watch the movie for that secret, I loved it more than I thought I would. I left with more questions than when I arrived.

As ever we see how thin the vapour is between good and evil, right and wrong. A longing for love and acceptance has pushed both Queenie and Credence to the place Newt didn’t want them to go.

Personally, I liked the look into the relationship between Grindelwald and Dumbledore. I felt it was needed to explain why Dumbledore was reluctant to fight Grindelwald. I thought it was a nice touch to use the Mirror of Erised.

Did Dumbledore’s interfering cause more harm than good? It seems that Dumbledore is old hat at using his students to get what he wants and I’m not sure he is all too bothered by that. After all wasn’t Leta a past student?! So I wonder when it all comes down to it is losing students like Leta and Harry (yes I know he comes back) but is it all just……..for the greater good?

 

 

4/5 wands /* /* /* /*                                                                                             –C.P.W