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Tag Archive: Woody Harrelson


Review by C.J. Bunce

For a movie that had some pretty rough previews, including Tom Hardy as a journalist with some indecipherable dialogue and a scientist who mispronounced a key word in the story, the end result may come as a surprise: Venom is actually a pretty good movie.  Do we credit a great post-production and re-shoots, including a complete redo of the strange “symbiote” explanatory scene, or does Sony need to simply work on improving its movie trailers?  Frankly all that matters is what made it to the screen.  Fans of the comic book anti-hero and villain, of alien invasion movies, of that unique character design from co-creator artist Todd McFarlane, of Tom Hardy, and non-traditional superhero movies, you’ll have to work to find anything wrong with this movie.  It’s a good Halloween month monster movie and you don’t need to know anything about the character or Marvel Comics to jump right in.  But you just might want to check out the comics after you see it.  Like Frank Miller caused Daredevil to become popular, McFarlane made Venom big in the 1980s.  Unlike McFarlane’s movie Spawn, an R-rated film that was too dark for mainstream audiences, the PG-13 rating for Venom makes this movie accessible to everyone.

A mix of the classic alien invasion flick, the horrifying McFarlane character look, with the grimy city vibe like the Detroit of Robocop, Venom has elements that make it feel like it belongs in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, regardless of its origin as a Sony film.  As for quality and delivery, it falls somewhere above Blade, Iron Man 2 and 3, The Fantastic Four, the Hulk movies, and Spawn, X-Men 3 and X-Men: Apocalypse, and somewhere below Hellboy and Deadpool.  For most fans of adaptations of comic books on the big screen, that will be enough.  Full of good humor moments, the film doesn’t take itself seriously.  We meet the archetype from 80 years of superhero comics with Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock, an Everyman, a down-and-out guy who can never get a break who gets caught making a few mistakes.  Usually this archetype ends up captured by Batman (or insert other superhero here) and thrown into the slammer, but this time he encounters a body shifting alien presence that merges with him, blending the best and worst of both beings.  Beginning with a crash landing as a SpaceX-inspired ship returns with some specimens from outer space, we eventually meet four alien beings, the lowliest of rank who calls himself Venom.  Merged with Eddie, Venom needs to eat living lifeforms to continue on and he doesn’t grasp the subtleties of only killing bad guys just yet.  Audiences will get to watch these aliens, the symbiotes, body-shift through several random characters (like Denzel Washington’s character in the movie Fallen), including the key cast and an animal or two–and it’s mostly great fun.

Venom is probably a rare time audiences will see Michelle Williams in a stock role.  Usually every part she takes on results in an Oscar-worthy performance, but it’s nice seeing her do something less dramatic.  And she gets some great scenes directly with Venom (including an Easter Egg scene that points straight back to the origin of the character originally discussed between Marvel Comics editor Jim Salicrup and writer/co-creator David Michelinie).  This may be Tom Hardy’s best role since Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (where he was the only good thing in the movie), as he at last gets to play a spectrum of emotions and demonstrate a broad acting range.  Despite what we heard in the movie trailers, his regional American accent is spot on in the final cut and his dialogue is delivered clearly–none of that crazy speech we saw him bring as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises Not hiding behind make-up or masks as in Mad Max: Fury Road, Dunkirk, or Star Trek: Nemesis, Hardy again proves he’s one of the best actors around.  The sound department gets it just right–Hardy’s voice is also the voice transformed into the monstrous, demonic sounding Venom, and it’s unique and effective.  No doubt some elaborate work went on behind the scenes for Hardy-as-Eddie to be arguing with Hardy-as-Venom.  Some of the best lines, and laugh-out-loud moments come from Venom, reminiscent of Gollum and Sméagol.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Maybe you don’t need the Old West to have a great Western after all.  Bringing back the feel of the first third of the original Star Wars: A New Hope with a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid level of fun and humor, Solo: A Star Wars Story is finally in theaters with something for every Star Wars fan.  The saloons may be different and so are the sidearms, but this is the story of a young gunfighter, complete with the related outlaws and mercenaries, partners and betrayals, card playing, and gunfights.  With the sweeping adventure of The Empire Strikes Back, the perfectly rebuilt and repackaged nostalgia of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and a jumping off point for a galaxy of possibilities for beloved characters we only thought we knew, director Ron Howard delivers.  Not weighted down by the gloom and doom of the Dark Side in Rogue One or the rest of the Star Wars films, this Star Wars story creates new and original locations and situations for a few familiar characters plus many new ones and still ties into the overall episodic stories, taking place after Revenge of the Sith, but before Star Wars Rebels and Rogue One.  Yet we meet many new characters and questions are raised in the film that beg for one or more sequels to this branch off the main Star Wars saga–we can now have many new tie-in novels, comics, TV series, and maybe even movies to keep it all going.  If you didn’t think The Last Jedi captured the nostalgia or fun of earlier Star Wars films, then Solo is for you–not since The Empire Strikes Back has an entry in the saga been such a rollercoaster ride.

Surprises?  In a film that could have just filled in the blanks, the surprises were dished out from beginning to end, including some big ones we won’t mention here.  The overall tone is something out of Amazing High Adventure, and it makes perfect sense: It’s Silverado in space.  Screenplay writer Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote the screenplay with son Jonathan Kasdan), known for writing Westerns Silverado and Wyatt Earp, prior Star Wars entries The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens, and that greatest of adventure movies Raiders of the Lost Ark, was the perfect match to veteran director and movie icon Ron Howard.  The Western inspiration is supported visually in the Frederic Remington-inspired colors and landscapes.  You can spot the World War II movie references along the way, too, that Kasdan and Howard no doubt enjoyed as moviegoers over the years, like Von Ryan’s Express.  The relationships between characters evoke gangster movies and even pirate tales like Treasure Island.  Science fiction fans will see parallels to Han’s band of mercenaries in both the crew of the Ghost in Star Wars Rebels and Joss Whedon’s Serenity crew in the Firefly television series.

The Kasdans smartly injected those scenes every fan has thought about, pulled from passing references throughout the original trilogy to become fully realized plot threads, and then they folded in so much more.  Without the religion and mysticism of the Force, Solo: A Star Wars Story breaks the precedents of the saga as space fantasy to become arguably the first end-to-end science fiction movie of the franchise.  And it’s not just a fun movie.  Viewers will get plenty to think about.  Characters here are sometimes swapped into positions taken by other characters (and beasts) in prior movies in a way that will make moviegoers want to take another look at the prior films again.

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The Marvel Comics character Venom is a creature of the 1980s, and not having the benefit of 50-70 years in the histories of comicdom like so many superheroes in movies these days, mainstream audiences know very little about the character.  Well-known genre actor Tom Hardy is taking on the role of the once villain/now anti-hero Eddie Brock, seen only once taking on the black tar-like goo suit before by those who made it to Sam Raimi’s Spider-man 3.  That film featured That ’70s Show’s Topher Grace in the role.  Kids in the 1980s first witnessed the genesis of the character in the wildly popular Marvel Comics mini-series Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, Issue #8, by writer Jim Shooter and artist Mike Zeck.  Most kids appreciated the new look.  Originally intended to give Spider-man a new black and white costume, the story became one about a symbiotic suit that attached to Spider-man, which went on to attach to Eddie Brock, who became Spidey’s Public Enemy #1 as the very Todd McFarlane-styled character known as Venom in later stories.  But don’t look for images of that guy just yet.

The first teaser for Sony Entertainment’s film is out, showcasing more of the noir look of the film and Tom Hardy’s established acting talent than anything typical of most superhero tales.  In other words, no look at Venom yet.  It’s long for a teaser, but reveals little about the plot or character.  Hardy has earned his sea legs in genredom.  He was only one of a handful of actors to play a Star Trek villain in the movies, starring as the Captain Picard clone Shinzon in Star Trek Nemesis.  He reprised Mel Gibson’s Mad Max in Mad Max: Fury Road, and in that other giant comic book franchise he played the B-team villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.  Along the way he proved himself in several dramatic roles, in the likes of Band of Brothers, Black Hawk Down, Layer Cake, Inception, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and as the World War II flying ace of the current Oscar-nominated film Dunkirk.  

  

With Venom Hardy takes on another comic book B-team character, but without a full face mask as in The Dark Knight Rises and instead with his face covered in only part of Venom as in Mad Max: Fury Road, maybe Hardy will have a greater opportunity to make an impact and make this character his own.  This is Sony’s first follow-up to their successful redux of Spidey in Spider-man: Homecoming, and word is out that new Spidey Tom Holland was on-set for Venom, possibly doing some filming.  Four-time Oscar nominee and star of the current Oscar-nominated film All the Money in World, Michelle Williams plays Eddie’s ex.  Solo: A Star Wars Story co-star Woody Harrelson also has a role in the film.

Check out this brief teaser for Venom:

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Unlike yesterday’s sneak peek, everyone gets coverage in this trailer, and it definitely has a Blade Runner feel with its music, and the story clip seems like an “assemble the team,” Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven story concept (the very first expanded story concept for Star Wars, originally published in the 1978 Marvel Comics), or maybe a Firefly ship crew-focused story.

We have first looks at a young Han (Alden Ehrenreich), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), and Lando (Donald Glover).  More Millennium Falcon.  New characters played by Emilia Clarke (Qi’ra pronounced Kira) and Woody Harrelson (Tobias Beckett).  The droid that looks like Qi’ra or Lando’s partner is called L3-37, voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge.  And that’s Thandie Newton as a new character named Val.

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And, in case you missed them, trailers for Avengers: Infinity War and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom are all below.

Check out the exciting new trailer for Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story:

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At last Star Wars fans finally have their first look at Ron Howard’s prequel movie Solo: A Star Wars Story, and there’s plenty to see.

We have first looks at a young Han (Alden Ehrenreich), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), and Lando (Donald Glover).  And even a younger Millennium Falcon!

And new characters played by Emilia Clarke (Qi’ra pronounced Kira) and Woody Harrelson (Tobias Beckett).

And lots of Imperials…

Check out the teaser trailer for Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, with the full trailer to follow tomorrow:

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The granddaddy of American genre franchises offers up its next entry next week.  Billed as the final chapter, War for the Planet for the Apes at a minimum will bring the reboot universe into a complete trilogy story, focused on star Andy Serkis as Caesar.  The story continues two years after the events in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (directed by Reeves), the sequel to the first of the reboot series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (co-produced by Clark).  So unlike many franchises these days, the same people are creating the beginning, the middle, and the end.  Thanks to director Matt Reeves and producer Dylan Clark, we should have some continuity among the films.

War for the Planet for the Apes introduces to the films Woody Harrelson as a military leader bringing mankind’s last stand to the apes.  War for the Planet of the Apes co-stars Karin Konoval (The X-Files, Tru Calling, Fringe, Supernatural, Psych, Arrow), Judy Greer (Ant-Man, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World), Chad Rook (Timeless, Supernatural), Ty Olsson (Continuum, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica) and Steve Zahn (That Thing You Do!, Sahara).  

The final poster is out (above, top) and a few more trailers revealed.  We have a full scene below featuring the introduction of Zahn, known for his comedic performances, revealed as a new ape referred to as “Bad Ape,” a reference given by humans while he was kept at a zoo.  Quickly we see what all the buzz is about with respect to the show’s special effects and Andy Serkis’s unique acting talent.  Will the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award Serkis with a full acting Oscar, breaking the barrier for motion capture performances?  Also, make sure you watch below the very sly teaser of sorts incorporating what looks at first blush to be someone’s YouTube upload from a visit to a zoo.  First up, here is a great look behind the scenes at the motion capture technology and Andy Serkis’s role:

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Theaters in the U.S. and the U.K. will see an opening night triple feature next month leading up to this summer’s blockbuster War for the Planet of the Apes.  AMC and Cinemark have already started selling tickets for their shows beginning this weekend.  The night will begin with 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes followed by 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and end with the premiere of the latest film in the popular franchise that has surprised audiences for 50 years.

The first film will be screened in 2D with the later films screened in Real 3D.  It’s nearly eight hours of damned dirty apes, but we’re thinking you’ll be cheering them on in the newest film, the ninth theatrical release in the series and third of the reboot movies.

The granddaddy of American genre franchises offers up its next entry with star Andy Serkis reprising his role as Caesar, with director Matt Reeves and producer Dylan Clark.  The story continues two years after the events in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, also directed by Reeves, the sequel to the first of the reboot series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Dylan Clark was a producer on that film, too).  The film introduces Woody Harrelson as an arrogant military leader bringing mankind’s last stand to the apes.  War for the Planet of the Apes also stars Karin Konoval (The X-Files, Tru Calling, Fringe, Supernatural, Psych, Arrow), Judy Greer (Ant-Man, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World), Chad Rook (Timeless, Supernatural), Ty Olsson (Continuum, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica) and Steve Zahn (That Thing You Do!, Sahara).

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WETA’s perfected motion capture technology is sure to drive fans of one of science fiction’s most enduring franchises to the theaters this summer when War for the Planet of the Apes takes the planet by storm.  The third installment of the reboot Planet of the Apes movie series now has a second trailer.  The granddaddy of American genre franchises offers up its next entry with star Andy Serkis reprising his role as Caesar, with director Matt Reeves and producer Dylan Clark.

The story continues two years after the events in 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, also directed by Reeves, the sequel to the first of the reboot series, 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Dylan Clark was a producer on that film, too).  The film introduces Woody Harrelson as an arrogant, General Custer-esque military leader bringing mankind’s last stand to the apes.  He doesn’t look all that sympathetic, and we’re sure we will be cheering for the apes in this picture.  Caesar and orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval) lead a raid on a village of humans and it looks like certain doom for the humans.  As fans of the series know, when an outcome is inevitable, it’s quality story telling and effects that will be key to making this a great film.

War for the Planet of the Apes also stars Judy Greer (Ant-Man, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World), Chad Rook (Timeless, Supernatural), Ty Olsson (Continuum, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica) and Steve Zahn (That Thing You Do!, Sahara).

Here is the second trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes:

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Motion capture fans take note: WETA looks like it has perfected the technology and we have plenty of great special effects to look forward to in War for the Planet of the Apes. The third installment of the reboot Planet of the Apes movie series now has a full trailer. The granddaddy of American genre franchises offers up its next entry with star Andy Serkis, director Matt Reeves, and producer Dylan Clark.  Serkis is again Caesar, the star character of the original movie series.

The story continues two years after the events in 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, also directed by Reeves, the sequel to the first of the reboot series, 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Dylan Clark was a producer on that film, too).  The film introduces Woody Harrelson as what appears to be an arrogant, General Custer-esque military leader bringing mankind’s last stand to the apes.  He doesn’t look all that sympathetic, and we’re sure we will be cheering for the apes in this picture.  Caesar and orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval) appear to lead a group of armed apes to raid a village of humans, or it the other way around?

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War for the Planet of the Apes also stars Judy Greer (Ant-Man, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World), Chad Rook (Timeless, Supernatural), Ty Olsson (Continuum, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica) and Steve Zahn (That Thing You Do!, Sahara).

Here is the first full-length trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes:

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The third installment of the reboot Planet of the Apes movie series now has a teaser to go with its name.  The wordy-but-consistent with the franchise title War for the Planet of the Apes was featured at New York Comic Con today, with star Andy Serkis, director Matt Reeves, and producer Dylan Clark revealing the teaser plus a scene showcasing Serkis’s lead character Caesar taking on a new nemesis.

Woody Harrelson plays an aggressive ape leader referred to as Colonel.  The film pits the Colonel against lead protagonist ape Caesar, with plenty of sparring over the course of the film.  In the brief clip shown to Con attendees, Caesar and orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval) lead a group of armed apes to raid a village of humans.  The story continues two years after the events in 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, also directed by Reeves, the sequel to the first of the reboot series, 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Dylan Clark was a producer on that film, too).

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Matt Reeves, Andy Serkis, and Dylan Clark before the release of the teaser in Times Square Thursday. (Andy Serkis, Twitter)

War for the Planet of the Apes also stars Judy Greer (Ant-Man, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World), Chad Rook (Timeless, Supernatural), Ty Olsson (Continuum, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica) and Steve Zahn (That Thing You Do!, Sahara).

Here is the teaser for War for the Planet of the Apes:

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