Fall Movie Review

There were some fairly big releases for movies this October. Let’s talk about some.

A Star is Born
This is the fourth adaptation of a very familiar story with a cheesy title, and the directorial debut of Bradley Cooper, who also stars in the movie. And yet, by some miracle, the film not only isn’t awful, but it’s also one of the best movies to come out this year (and one of the more depressing ones). All of the acting is fantastic across the board, especially Lady Gaga as Ally and Bradley Cooper as Jackson. The dialogue is bittersweet and realistic, the development of their relationship was incredibly endearing, the cinematography was beautiful, and the music was well composed (even the pop anthems that are supposed to be bad in the context of the movie). The concert scenes, in particular, felt full of life and incredibly visceral, filmed on location in places like Coachella to get the desired effect. The film also balances the love story and Jackson’s addiction really well, while also adding in an undercurrent of commentary on what makes music special and what the industry currently lacks. Somehow at two hours and fifteen minutes, the film feels somehow shorter, as you’re transported into the lives of these people and lose all sense of time. There were some minor issues I had with elements (don’t want to spoil), but overall this film is a definite must-watch. I will add that if you cry easily while watching films, bring a box of tissues.

First Man
For some reason, this film was considered to be emotionless and not patriotic by a lot of people, but they must have been watching a different movie. This is a very personal portrait of Neil Armstrong, and a fascinating exploration of American Exceptionalism in the 1960s. What made this movie stand out was how laser-focused it was on Armstrong. For example, in the climactic scene where the rocket was taking off, the film didn’t ever cut back to the control room. Instead, it focused on Armstrong’s face the whole time, which added a personal touch to the scene that made it more intense and more fun to watch. Every technical aspect was on point in this film: Ryan Gosling was fantastic as Neil Armstrong, all the characters were very fleshed out and weren’t turned into caricatures, and while some of the pacing was a little off in the second act, it was all made up for by probably one of the best movie endings of the year. Damien Chazelle, whose previous two movies were La La Land and Whiplash, continues to prove himself as a talented force and one of the best directors working today. I can’t really say much more about this movie, but definitely try to see this in theaters because it’s an incredible experience

I will say that I did not find this movie creepy or scary like the original 1978 classic, but it is definitely the best Halloween sequel out of all of them (and there have been many). This new sequel simplifies the entire timeline of the franchise by removing every other previous film from the continuity apart from the original. Taking place forty years after the first film, the film is about protagonist Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) having to finally face down Michael Myers once and for all after he escapes and returns to Haddonfield, Illinois (again). The film has several interesting elements at play that definitely elevate it from being a completely generic sequel. It explores the trauma of Laurie Strode in an interesting manner, showing just how damaged and paranoid she has become after the events of the first film. Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role and it is a treat to see her play this character again as a more hardened individual. There were many moments that paid homage to the original film that were incredibly satisfying, and all the kills in this film were fairly savage. However, there are a few big issues with this movie. The first was that there are some really annoying side characters, such as Laurie’s daughter and her husband, and Michael Myers' doctor, who had the most irritating subplot in the movie that led to a terrible plot twist. The second really big issue was that it didn’t really have a sense of dread like the original because of some really inconsistent editing. The creepiness of the first film was that the film utilized the background of shots very effectively and held the shots for long stretches of time to give the feeling of paranoia and of Michael lurking in every corner. This new film does some of that, but it’s very inconsistent with shots often cutting too quickly. It seems like a nitpick, but editing and cinematography are incredibly important in creating a sense of tone and atmosphere, especially in the horror genre. But overall, the film was a good time, and it’s definitely a fun watch with some friends.

Venom, or as Eminem so eloquently put it in his cringeworthy song, “Vinummmm, Vinummm, Vinummm,” was, to quote the movie itself, “a turd in the wind." I frankly have no idea why audiences gave this a pass. This is about as bad as The Amazing Spider-Man movies with Andrew Garfield, which makes sense since one of the producers and one of the writers worked on those movies. I don’t understand how Sony can’t just hire good writers, good directors, or a good crew for any of their big budget films. The only good thing about this movie was Tom Hardy, who plays Eddie Brock and voices the Venom symbiote, and the entertaining relationship between Eddie and Venom. Otherwise, everything else is a mess. Every other actor seems to be self-aware that this is a paycheck movie, so their performances are embarrassing to watch. It’s just another generic story of a big corporate executive wanting to be a god and to create a new race of human-symbiote hybrids. On top of that, Spider-Man isn’t even in this movie, and Spider-Man is integral to the character of Venom. So because Spider-Man isn’t in it, there is just so much exposition piled into the first act to explain all of the symbiotes and all the strange explanations of how it bonds to people or what they’re like, destroying the pacing in the process. Apparently, forty minutes of this film were cut (evidently Tom Hardy’s favorite scenes) and it absolutely shows. The horror/buddy cop comedy tone didn’t work well because the writing was awful. Most of the special effects looked really bad, particularly the final fight scene between Venom and the main villain, Riot. Is it a prerequisite for every Sony movie to look like a dull nightmare? Also, why was this movie advertised as an “antihero” movie? Sure, Venom kills people and eats heads, but (spoiler alert) he ends up wanting to be a hero and fights a big villain in the end anyway. They turned Venom into a superhero. I’m gonna stop talking about this before it makes me angrier. Hand the reins to Marvel Studios and let them make a good Venom movie with Spider-Man in it.