Cayle’s Movie Review: “Venom”

After a botched feature film debut in the ill-fated Spider-Man 3, Sony tries to give the character of Venom another chance with, you guessed it, Venom. Does Sony have a hit with this movie or are they just delaying the inevitable acquisition of the Spider-Man film rights by Disney?

The best thing about this movie is, unsurprisingly, Venom. Although the titular character is supposed to be antagonistic, there is a reason that he is a favorite amongst Spider-Man fans. He is truly the highlight of the movie.  Another great thing about this movie (besides Venom of course) is Tom Hardy’s performance as Eddie Brock. I felt that he carried most of the movie thanks to his interactions with the titular symbiotic character (also played by Hardy).

On the other hand, Venom is a garbled mess. The main problem with this movie is its identity crisis. The movie doesn’t know if it wants to be a body horror film in the style of David Cronenberg or if it wants to be a more comedic superhero (or anti-villain in this case) movie in the vein of Guardians of the Galaxy or Thor: Ragnarök. Venom felt like a pre-MCU Marvel movie from the early 2000s. Sure, the movie looked cool, but it was mostly style over substance. While I was doing some research for this review, I found out that approximately 40 minutes of the movie was cut out in order to secure a PG-13 rating from the MPAA. Is Sony aware that R rated superhero movies could be financially viable thanks to movies such as Deadpool and Logan? I feel like the movie is being held back by insecure Sony executives.

Another problem I had with this movie (aside from its cast) is with its characters. Aside from Tom Hardy, I felt there was wasted potential with much of the cast. For example, Michelle Williams is a great actor in my opinion. However, I felt that her acting was severely under-utilized in this movie. Her character barely appears in this movie. In addition to that, I felt the relationship between her character and Eddie Brock was severely underdeveloped. Although the audience is supposed to root for their relationship, there was no chemistry between the two characters. While I thought that Riz Ahmed was fine as Carlton Drake/Riot, I felt that his character was just a generic villain. I felt that there was no motivation for the character.

Overall, Venom felt like an effort by Sony Pictures to retain the Spider-Man film rights for as long as possible. As of this review, the film rights for the Spider-Man franchise are currently in limbo. It’s just a matter of time before Disney acquires it. Otherwise, the movie has no identity.

SCORE: 4/10

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Cayle’s Movie Review: “Searching”

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Searching follows David Kim (John Cho) as he struggles to maintain a relationship with his 16-year-old daughter Margot (Michelle La) after his wife’s death. After Margot fails to come home from a study group, he initiates a search for his daughter’s whereabouts with the help of Detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing).

What’s notable about this film is that it takes place from the perspective of multiple computer screens. Although Searching was produced by the same production company that made the Unfriended movies, I felt that the former had a better execution. This was evident in the first ten minutes of the movie as it shows the happy home life of the Kim family before the death of the mother.

Another great thing about this movie is its writing. The movie presents itself as a mystery from the point of view of Margot’s father as he tries to unravel the whereabouts of his daughter by tracing her Internet history right up to her disappearance. There are some interesting twists and turns throughout the duration of the movie.

While the Unfriended movies were cautionary tales disguised as horror movies, I felt that Searching is an interesting social commentary. During one scene of the movie, for example, a lot of Margot’s classmates were pretending to be her friend in order to get attention from the news outlets even though they barely talked to her in real life.  I haven’t seen a movie make that kind of statement since 2009’s World’s Greatest Dad (and Gone Girl to a certain extent).

As for the cast, John Cho pretty much carries this movie. While he is better known as Harold from the Harold and Kumar movies, I felt this movie showed his real talents as an actor. However, Debra Messing manages to have the best performance of the entire movie.

My main problem with this movie is its uneven pacing at certain points of the movie. I felt this element dragged the movie down. I may be nitpicking here, but I had a problem with its third act. I won’t spoil the movie, but it has to do with the whereabouts of Margot Kim. I know I am supposed to suspend to my disbelief while watching a fictional narrative. For a movie that is supposed to be grounded in reality, however, this was slightly disappointing.

Overall, Searching is a film that manages to live up to its concept. If only we could do the same to Hardcore Henry.

SCORE: 9/10

Cayle’s Movie Review: “BlacKkKlansman”

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BlacKkKlansman follows the true story of how a black officer from the Colorado Springs police department managed to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan back in the 1970s.

The best thing about BlacKkKlansman is its comedy. The movie tackles its difficult subject with a sense of humor. This is evident in the dialogue between the characters of Ron Stallworth and Flip Zimmerman (played by Washington and Adam Driver respectively).

Another great thing about BlacKkKlansman is its cast. Both Washington and Driver are great in their respective roles. I found out after watching this movie that the former is the son of Denzel Washington. In retrospect, he does have his father’s charisma. Topher Grace was surprisingly great as David Duke. He manages to bring out a folksy demeanor to a despicable real-life character.

The thing about the movie’s director, Spike Lee, is that he is just as much a provocateur as he is a filmmaker. It is especially evident in both the beginning and the end of the movie. This may or may not sit well with the general movie-going audience.

Overall, BlacKkKlansman might be one of Spike Lee’s better movies in recent memory.

SCORE: 8/10

Going on a Short Hiatus

If you’re wondering why my last review (along with my mid-year top 10 list for that matter) was a written one, it’s because of my demanding schedule. Not only am I currently busy with school and work, I am also working on several movie projects. Because of this, I only have one free day out of the week.

Long story short, there won’t be any videos until October.  I hope you guys will understand. Peace!

P.S. There will be more details to come in the following weeks.

Cayle’s Movie Review: “Mission: Impossible-Fallout”

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NOTE: I didn’t have enough time this week to make a video. Here’s a written review instead. Enjoy!

It’s hard to believe that the Mission: Impossible film franchise has been going on since 1996. Except for the second one, I am fan of all the movies in the series. Ever since 2011’s Ghost Protocol, the franchise has managed to raise the stakes in terms of action and story. However, the franchise may have reached its peak with Fallout. As for the story, I felt that the stakes were higher this time around thanks to director Christopher McQuarrie’s involvement with the movie. There were a lot of interesting twists and turns throughout the movie’s runtime.

In terms of its action direction, Fallout is the biggest movie in the franchise. While all the movies in the Mission: Impossible franchise has some memorable action scenes, I felt that this movie has the best out of all of them. The movie has some incredible stunt work with its chase scenes and fight choreography.

Another great thing about this movie is its cast. Each cast member has managed to bring out their characters’ personalities. Say what you will about Tom Cruise, he is a great actor. I’ll give him credit for doing all his stunt work. He was born to play Ethan Hunt. Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames were also great as Hunt’s fellow IMF members. Henry Cavill was another standout performance of this movie. I felt that his character was a perfect foil to Ethan Hunt.

My only problem with this film is its believability. While I was impressed with its action scenes, there were certain moments during the movie’s runtime that I was thinking to myself, “nobody should survive this.” Ethan Hunt officially has the Power Star from the Super Mario Bros. games.

There are rumors that Fallout might be the last movie in the Mission: Impossible franchise. If this is the case, this is a great way to end the franchise. As I have mentioned earlier in the review, this was the biggest movie in the series in terms of action and story. It does give closure to several elements that were featured in the previous movies. However, I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that there will be another Mission: Impossible movie in the near future.

SCORE: 9/10

Cayle’s Top 10 Movies of 2018…So Far

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In lieu of a video this week, I thought I would try something a little different. I thought about writing a mid-year top ten list for a long time now, but never had the opportunity to. Due to my busy schedule, however, I decided to write a list instead. The review for Mission: Impossible – Fallout will be coming out next weekend.

Before I continue on with the list, I wanted to explain a few things first. You might ask: “If this is a mid-year top ten list, why is it in August?” The answer is that I might a write a list like this as a yearly August tradition. Second, this isn’t a final list (that one will be coming out in late December/early January). I’m willing to bet that half of the movies on this list will be honorable mentions on my annual end-of-the-year list.

I hope you guys enjoy reading this list!

10.) Solo: A Star Wars Story

I was initially hesitant about watching this movie after re-watching the garbled mess known as The Last Jedi (a movie I may re-review sometime in the near future). Much to my surprise, however, Solo is a nice throwback to the original trilogy. It’s a crying shame that it’s the first Star Wars movie to bomb at the box office…

9.) A Silent Voice

It’s not everyday that a theatrically-released anime movie (that isn’t from Studio Ghibli) is screened in my neck of the woods. Case in point, this is only the third anime movie I have seen in theaters over the last two years. Luckily, I had the privilege of seeing this movie a few months ago. A Silent Voice is one of those rare anime films that can appeal to both anime and non-anime watchers alike.

8.) Love, Simon

If John Hughes were still alive today, I feel that this is the type of movie he would make. What’s notable about Love, Simon is its titular character. Simon Spier is a well-written gay character that isn’t stereotypical. It’s refreshing to see a teen movie that is actually good.

7.) Avengers: Infinity War

Out of the three Avengers movies, Infinity War is easily the best one. It manages to raise the stakes from the previous movies by implementing the most memorable villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe-Thanos. Not only that, he is a complex antagonist who manages to have a believable motivation. Infinity Wars is a game-changer in the MCU.

6.) Incredibles 2

While the first movie is better,  The Incredibles 2 is the best Pixar sequel since the third Toy Story movie. This movie is a continuation of the themes that was prevalent in the previous movie.

5.) Isle of Dogs

In his sophomore stop-motion feature, Wes Anderson manages to insert quirky sense of humor into its animation. While Isle of Dogs has a basic plot, it more than makes up for it with its character development.

4.) Annihilation

Annihilation is an old-school science-fiction horror movie in the spirit of Aliens and The Thing. Just like Solo, it didn’t do well at the box-office. To add insult to injury, the movie only had a theatrical release in North America and china because its distributor Paramount thought it was too “intellectual” for the average movie-goer. Hopefully, Annihilation should have a second life on DVD/VOD….

3.) A Quiet Place

While A Quiet Place is the more traditional horror movie on this list, it is also the best one thanks to its direction and its sound design. John Krasinki, who is better known as the actor who played Jim Halpert on the American version of The Office, has the potential to be a great director.

2.) Deadpool 2

More often than not, highly anticipated sequels are usually considered to be disappointments by audiences and critics alike. However, Deadpool 2 manages to up the ante from its predecessor thanks to its self-reflexive humor.

1.) Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

I could not recommend this movie enough. It is a remarkable documentary about a remarkable man. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is one of those rare films that puts a perspective on one’s life. It shows how a single man can change the landscape of a certain medium.

Thank you for reading this list and have a great summer!

Cayle’s Movie Review: “Unfriended: Dark Web”

Unfriended: Dark Web is a stand-alone sequel to the 2015 movie Unfriended. Instead of an Internet-era ghost story, this movie deals with the infamous “dark web”. Will this movie live up to the inventiveness of its predecessor or is it just using an overused gimmick at this point?

Just like the first movie, Unfriended: Dark Web has an interesting concept that takes place from the perspective of a computer screen.  With the addition of the dark web, there is a lot of potential with the movie’s story.

The best part about this movie, however, is its cast. I felt that the actors were great with what they had to work with. They were believable in their respective roles, even if some of their characters were not likable to begin with (a fact I will delve into later in this review).

My main problem with this movie is that it’s basically a carbon copy of the first movie. Dark Web just repeats the plot points of the first movie beat for beat. While this movie has a more realistic premise, I felt that the first movie was more grounded since it is a cautionary tale that deals with the consequences that resulted from the actions of its teen characters. Speaking of the main characters of this movie…

Another major problem I had with this movie are its dumb characters. I am fully aware that the main characters of the first movie were high school students. As we all know, teenagers aren’t really known for their rationality. However, the main difference between the main characters of this movie and its predecessor is that the characters of Dark Web are supposed to be adults who have managed to graduate from college. Matias, who is the main character of Dark Web, does some very questionable things throughout the movie’s runtime. if it wasn’t for his stupidity, however, the movie’s plot would not have been kicked off. The movie is essentially one giant idiot plot.

I won’t spoil the movie, but Dark Web has two different endings. While a concept like this can work in a movie like 1985’s Clue, I felt that the use of multiple endings in this movie was more of a gimmick than anything.

While this movie had some promise with its concept, it fell victim to the dreaded “sequelitis”. Unfriended: Dark Web has all the elements of a generic horror sequel: stupid characters, a generic antagonist, and of course, a plot that repeats itself.

SCORE: 5/10