By Marc S. Sanders

It’s kind of sad when two very good actors are provided with really subpar material.  The writing can naturally make the performers look bad.  Two things can happen.  The actors might try too hard or they may not try hard enough.  A perfect example of that is John Flynn’s crime drama Best Seller with James Woods and Brian Dennehy.  Woods tries too hard.  Dennehy isn’t trying at all.

Brian Dennehy is Dennis, a Los Angeles undercover cop.  Following a department robbery in 1972, he writes about the experience and then he is on his way to also being a best-selling crime novelist.  Fifteen years go by.  He’s still working the streets and chasing bad guys while also writing.  Though now he’s got writer’s block. 

James Woods is Cleve, a professional hitman, who enters Dennis’ life and convinces him to write a book about Cleve’s experiences.  Cleve’s motivation for this is to expose a crooked politician that he used to do jobs for and at the same time, the book will become a best-selling true crime novel for Dennis. So, Cleve escorts Dennis around various parts of the country from California to New York then back west to Oregon.  Cleve shows Dennis a bedroom in New York where he successfully executed a man with details about where the victim fell to how he did it, step by step.  There’s not a shred of dialogue or discovery in this scene.  A real estate agent giving a tour of an empty model home is more eye opening.  Cleve also brings Dennis to his parents home for a sleepover where he can gain some background material on Cleve’s upbringing.  Having just seen the ninety minute film, I can not recall one thing that was discussed at the dinner table with mom and dad.  Dennis never looks interested.  Dennis doesn’t even have a tape recorder or a pad to write on.  Dennis isn’t even necessarily convinced that Cleve is the hitman he says he is.  I was convinced, however.  Ten minutes into the film, Cleve saves Dennis’ life by shooting a criminal that was about to kill Dennis and he had pretty good aim with his silencer hand gun.  What more do you need to know?  If Dennis is such a good cop, why can’t he realize what is in front of him?  Was that the dilemma of Best Seller?  To see if Dennis believes Cleve is an expert hitman? 

The story is utterly ridiculous.  It doesn’t help however that James Woods carries himself like a nut job when Flynn directs him in cool postures adorned with stylish Ray Bans and knitted 1980’s suits.  He gets hyper in front of people he’s threatening and prefers unusual sexual positions with women he just met.

Brian Dennehy hardly looks like he’s in character.  His dramatic moments have no impact.  He seems undisturbed by this weird guy he’s travelling the country with.  Wouldn’t a seasoned cop even keep his guard up while with this likely hitman?  Not even a couple of near misses on killing them both seem to faze his Dennis character.  The men make a quick escape from a bomb laced taxi cab and they hardly discuss or consider who is behind the attempt on their lives. 

I’m not sure what was to be accomplished with this film.  It doesn’t explore anything remotely interesting. It’s mostly as boring as Brian Dennehy seems in his role.  Both of these actors have had better material to work with in their careers and they work best as supporting character actors like Woods in Casino and Hercules, or Dennehy in First Blood and Presumed InnocentBest Seller was not a box office hit or even a sleeper hit.  It’s not hard to see why.


By Marc S. Sanders

The biggest surprise of Green Book is who its director is, the unlikely Peter Farrelly of The Farrelly Brothers, directors of Dumb & Dumber and There’s Something About Mary. Yet, when I reflect on the film it should not be a surprise. The Farrellys are known for raunchy humor, but often it stems from an honest source. When Viggo Mortensen’s character Tony folds an entire pizza pie in half and then scarfs it down whole, that’s a Farrelly touch but likely also what an Italian club bouncer raised in the Bronx would do without any consideration. He’d also win out in hot dog eating contest. Mortensen’s character is a far cry from his Russian Heyman in Eastern Promises or Stryder in The Lord Of the Rings. The pizza and hot dog scenes are great moments in a film weighted down by the Uncle Tom mentality of Deep South USA in 1962. Peter Farrelly needed to direct this film, and it just might be the best picture of the year.

Tony (or “Tony Lip” as he’s known among his peers) is hired by Dr. Don Shirley played with such eloquence by Mahershala Ali. Dr. Shirley is an African American pianist, arguably the best in the world and ready to embark on a tour of the Midwest to Southeast of the country. It’s not that simple however as Dr. Shirley is all too aware of the racial prejudice that will befall him. Tony is hired to be Dr. Shirley’s driver as he has the toughness to look out for Shirley in the event that it is necessary. Sadly, the film shows that Tony is more than necessary.

There’s much comedy here between Ali, playing the well spoken “Felix” role, against Mortensen in the “Oscar” part. Tony and Don are worlds apart having virtually no understanding how the other half lives or what they are forced to compromise with on a daily basis. The hardships that Green Book offers focus more on Dr. Shirley as he is forced into humiliating circumstances where he is offered only an outhouse to use or denial of entry into a dining room. He could be wearing the sharpest of tuxedos, while Tony is a self aware “goombah” slob with no civility and Dr. Shirley remains the one to be overlooked. His value to Deep South America is to play his Steinway piano like meager jester.

There’s much to learn about our country’s mid 20th century history in Green Book. It’s a film I encourage families with pre-teen children to see. Not only will they learn of disillusioned hatred and treatment of black minority, but they will be entertained as well. References to Robert and John Kennedy are presented as well Aretha Franklin, and a Boston Celtics player (Name I cant recall).

The comedy that Farrelly brings keeps the audience engaged. The best dramas possess great comedy like Steel Magnolias, Terms Of Endearment, The Help, and even Kramer vs Kramer. If we can laugh along with our characters, then we will appreciate them that much more when harm and pain strikes. We want to ease their pain and be angry for them when those moments arrive. Their comedy of natural behaviors breeds affection for them. When they are compromised, we cry for them. Farrelly executes this format perfectly.

Mahershala Ali is a stand out here. He is snobbish at times towards the unmannered Tony but he is never deserving of his dismissiveness. He is a victim of the “colored mentality.” If not for the color of his skin, Dr. Shirley would have been regarded by all as a man of integrity; a hero to the American people. Sadly in 1962, many could not see past skin color. Thankfully, a great moment towards the end reminded me that it was in fact many…but not all. Watch the movie, and then tell me if you know what I’m referring to.

Remember, this is probably the best picture of 2018. Bring your children to see Green Book. Keep your children aware.


By Marc S. Sanders

The Wizarding World franchise of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts has suffered its first absolute failure, and much of it is owed to staple director David Yates, and more importantly JK Rowling.

I’ve been saying it for years. The wealthiest woman in the world possesses an incredible imagination, but it serves as an Achilles Heel because ALL of that creativity is thrown into her works along with the kitchen sink, the kitchen and 30 or 40 bedrooms. It’s much too much.

The Crimes Of Grindelwald is mired in overly long confusion. A week ago, I more or less praised the prior installment but I noted that it seemed as if 5 different stories were going on at once and none of them had anything to do with the other. The new film doesn’t just suffer from the ailment. Rather, it is slaughtered by it. It seemed like there were 50 stories going at once. None of them were very interesting. Everything seemed bland, and all of it was near indecipherable.

The lead is once again played by a charismatic, yet innocent looking Eddie Redmayne as beast caretaker Newt Scamander. Redmayne has the mannerisms down. He fits comfortably in the early 20th century England, the costume works well on him, but he speaks in gibberish it seems. As well, Rowling has written his role so as not to reveal everything he knows. He feels incomplete. In this film, he also feels irrelevant to anything that is going on. I couldn’t figure out his purpose. His random pet beasts’ appearances offer nothing to progress anything or anyone. They are helpless creatures. He is assigned early on in tracking down prison escapee Grindlewald, played with disappointing reservations by Johnny Depp and yet I don’t recall a showdown between them or an acknowledgement of each other.

Grindlewald is a disappointing character. He’s bent on making the magical world full of pure blood magic folk. That’s all we know ahead of his albino threatening appearance. Sure he’s got a past with a young Dumbledore (a well cast Jude Law), but hardly anything is written for Depp to play with. He’s flat. He doesn’t amp up the evil. This is Johnny Depp, formerly Jack Sparrow and a half dozen Tim Burton characters before???? He has few lines in a very long picture. He does not declare his cause really. His motivations are only explained in long drawn out scenes by some boring magic politicians. All talk in these scenes, no magic and thus very dull.

There’s an early prison escape for Grindelwald but thanks to David Yates and his team, it is very hard to follow who is disappearing and reappearing and how it’s all happening. Like the whole film, the cinematography is very dark (and this wasn’t even 3D). Everything is so dim in this film. It’s as if Yates was not confident in his spookiness he demanded all camera lamps be turned off while the dry ice machine is turned on. This is including in the daylight scenes. The editing of this opening scene is choppy at best. Visual effects are masked with dark blurs and loud sounds and music to heighten danger that just doesn’t feel very urgent.

The cast is way too large. My favorite character from the prior film, Stanley Kowalski (Dan Fogler) is given nothing to do and considering his memory of magic had been erased, his purpose for returning is poorly explained. This time, there’s nothing cute or charming written about Kowalski. You’d have the same film whether he was here or not. He serves no point and when he’s given material to fawn over Queenie (Alison Sudol) his love interest, and also pointless, it amounts to nothing. Katherine Waterston as Tina, Newt’s love interest American partner, as well serves no meaning. She’s there because she must be paired up with Newt.

So Rowling as before on other occasions brings back the four main characters from the first film and just gives them nothing to do. Rowling is notorious for side stories in her Harry Potter novels. Fans really love that it paints an ongoing landscape of this world. Here however, her original screenplay oversteps.

The Crimes Of Grindelwald is not funny or whimsical. Nothing is jaw dropping or fun for the whole family. (This is a franchise spawned from young adult novels??????) It all feels like edited junk from all the other films thrown into this one. There’s nothing new here in tricks or treats. Grindelwald ignites beautiful glowing blue fire at the end. So? We’d seen that already.

The film is obese on characters and side tracks. It is poorly filmed in foggy settings and gloomy skies, and the editing is a patchwork moldy blanket of irrelevance.

As you try to find the stitching between all the stories, you realize that you are working too damn hard. What I’d give for a little magic right now!


By Marc S. Sanders

Creed II is fortunate to have a stellar cast that includes an exceptional Michael B Jordan as the title character, Sylvester Stallone (again as Rocky Balboa), Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad and even Dolph Lundgren back as Russian boxer Ivan Drago. It’s a cast with great chemistry, especially between Jordan and Thompson, rekindling what made their relationship so authentic in the first “Creed” film. I appreciate how all the characters genuinely care for one another without getting too schmaltzy. Nevertheless, that’s about all that works for this installment.

The problem with Creed II is that it is blatantly formulaic, almost to the point that I was getting drowsy. If not for the gentleman sitting next to me who could not get into a comfortable position, I might have slept through the whole film. The first hour is really a slog. Maybe this next door viewer was getting bored like me, and couldn’t fight his restlessness.

In the 2nd hour, after Creed gets beaten to a pulp mentally and physically by Drago’s gigantor of a son (am I really spoiling anything here?) does it pick up, because we are about to enter BEAST MODE where the staple training montages (this time in a desert where i guess sunburn and dehydration lead to exceptional athleticism) are about to begin, and Creed is gonna kick the Russian guy’s ass once and for all.

Hey! I didn’t give away the ending here. You’ve seen this movie before in Rocky III, Rocky IV and Rocky 99 1/2. So quit your cryin’.

That’s the thing with Creed II. It’s an exact replica blueprint of the Rocky franchise films before it. Stallone pulled up his saved script on Word, and simply changed a couple of names and pop culture references. Example: scratch out music by Survivor and insert modern age hip hop.

There’s nothing new here, except for maybe giving a little dimension to Ivan Drago as a one time heroic celebrity of a country that no longer exists and a people who no longer celebrate him. Now, he lives through the stamina and strength of his son, Viktor. Not bad writing for Drago. Just not enough material for him. Otherwise, again there’s nothing special here that you haven’t seen before.

Wait…scratch that…I gotta say I couldn’t keep my eyes off Michael B Jordan. This guy is a good actor, but man is he ripped. I mean not an ounce of fat on this guy. He’s practically an eighth wonder of the world. It’s great to see, but even that is not enough to see Creed II in theatres. Wait for Netflix and save 12 bucks.


By Marc S. Sanders

The aftermath of Rami Malek’s electrifying performance of Freddie Mercury might just follow the same trajectory of Jessie Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg. People will never be able to see past the one accomplishment and every role hereafter will be measured against this moment. Bohemian Rhapsody will likely be Malek’s best film of his career.

Bryan Singer, and more importantly an uncredited director replacement, have assembled a by the numbers music biopic complete with defiance against naysayers, sexual discoveries, band discourse, drugs, booze, illness, a wildly eccentric lead and an altogether sensational soundtrack. This isn’t me complaining however. The film might be formulaic but what else should I expect really?

Though I’m dubious if the compositions really were spawned as depicted, I nevertheless loved every second of Bohemian Rhapsody. Yeah, I doubt “Another One Bites The Dust” finally sprung to life during an in studio scuffle but as soon as the bass began to play, I was in the moment. Movies should always touch you naturally. The emotional response should never feel forced. It should be be triggered. The music of Queen has that effect for me. Not every song. Some lyrics are downright silly. Yet if “We Are The Champions” is going to be re-enacted during a Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium following a series of setbacks for Mercury, you are going to get caught up in the moment.

The song introductions are the highlights of the film. They carry an energy that leads to lip sync and toe tap. However, the movie doesn’t stop there. I appreciated the strife between Freddie and his disapproving father, his affection for his bandmates and the eventual conflict among them, his struggles with loving Mary, his wife, while coming to grips with his bisexuality, his betrayals among those that used him, and finally his AIDS diagnosis. Every aspect is given enough attention. Still , we are treated to a near full shot for shot re-enactment of Live Aid, one of Freddie’s final performances before his eventual surrender to death.

Called me biased. Yet I’m not a die hard Queen fan. I just found the period set up authentic. The music editing to be well orchestrated and the cast to be spot on. A Mike Myers appearance (look for him but you won’t see how apparent he really is) is inspired.

The film ultimately belongs to Malek. Awards season will be generous to him. He’s comfortable and assured in the attire, the skin, the gravitas and even the teeth of Freddie Mercury. This was a film circulating the press for many years. Everyone seemingly wanted a bio pic. Finally, it has arrived and no one else could have played Freddie Mercury so beautifully as Rami Malek. He’s a miracle!


By Marc S. Sanders

The morals of Senator Ted Kennedy were tested in July, 1969. While under the influence, he drove his car off a bridge that overturned into a pond. The Senator survived. Over 9 hours later, he reported that a passenger he was with drowned in the accident.

It’s terrible to think about the trust he retained following this incident. He was re-elected to office, and went on to become the 4th longest running Senator in American history. The parents of Mary Jo Kopeckni (Kate Mara) lost a daughter with a promising future.

Jason Clarke is excellent as the insecure son of an intimidating stroke stricken Joseph Kennedy Sr (Bruce Dern, effectively overpowering with paralyzed limitation), forced to walk in the shadows of his brothers John and Robert, both assassinated prior to this occurrence. Clarke is great as someone we are to be disapproving of, but for me personally I’m that much more disgusted by the Senator’s response.

Ed Helms is Ted’s cousin Joe who makes all efforts to make this right following the foolhardy actions that occur. Senator Kennedy tries to pride himself as a martyr for the state of Massachusetts, appearing as a victim with a false neck brace, claiming a concussion, hiding left over alcohol and sympathizing with the Kopeckni family. He identifies himself as a “moral compass.” Cousin Joe knows differently as the truly authentic moral character, yet he’s merely disregarded by the army of Kennedy spin doctoring.

Director John Curran will have you believe more of this story and it’s longevity in history did not amount to much considering this all occurred while Neil Armstrong was making his historic walk on the moon, ironically initiated by President John Kennedy. It’s a reason I believe the Senator sustained quite a successful career. Maybe not totally successful. I don’t recall another President Kennedy.

Curran maintains a picturesque image of Martha’s Vineyard and the slow gradual response of all the players, including a police chief who has no scuba gear and must resort to getting down to his skivies to search through the submerged car. The chief is also quite comfortable with accepting an eventual prepared statement followed by a release so the Senator need not concern himself.

None of this was pretty. None of this was Camelot. John Curran’s film reminds you of a young woman helplessly drowning, while the perpetrator did nothing but consider his chances at a Presidency from that point on.

Chappaquiddick is a must see film.


By Marc S. Sanders

Bradley Cooper produces, directs and co-writes himself with Lady Gaga in the fourth iteration of A Star Is Born. They will go down as the hottest screen couple of October, 2018, but not much beyond that.

The chemistry is maybe there between the two stars but I won’t say it’s very electrifying. Individually, I really liked what each of their performances offered. Together? Meh. At times when they are in a scene it almost looks like they are not paying attention to one another; as if they aren’t listening for their cues. Oddly enough, Sam Elliott and Cooper have terrific chemistry as brothers. They truly look and sound like they came from the same cloth. Same with Gaga and Andrew “Dice” Clay as her father (a welcome surprise; I wish he had more material). The scenes with Gaga and Cooper however don’t measure up.

Cooper directs outstanding musical performances of himself and especially Gaga, though I’d argue she relieved some of the pressure with her experienced talents. Her first concert introduction is show stopping; that note she hits stays with you. Her final performance is just as effective and reminiscent of the legendary status Whitney Houston made for herself in The Bodyguard.

Cooper’s directorial debut absolutely must be commended. The concert set pieces are especially authentic. However, the film is too long. For a simple and familiar story, two hours and fifteen minutes is a bit much. A small appearance by Dave Chappelle as Cooper’s friend is wasted and pointless. He shows up an hour into the film, does a quick scene and then he’s never mentioned again. Definitely a scene worthy of the cutting room floor.

Lady Gaga has wonderful moments especially at the very end and during the first half of the film. The 2nd act is by no means her fault but when her stardom blossoms, I didn’t care for the image of a what seemed like a 2nd rate Miley Cyrus act. I would have preferred something more sophisticated like Celine Dion, Adele, or heck even a Lady Gaga. The artificial orange/red hair is a major distraction. I couldn’t help but get fixated on this car accident of an hairdo and not on the performance. A poor choice.

It’s a good film. Not great. Some songs are memorable. Some are very forgettable. I think Bradley Cooper did a fine directing job more or less. I just hope he gets a little better.


By Marc S. Sanders

In the 1980s, a small production company named Cannon Films was started by an Israeli named Menachem Golan.  It churned out at least a dozen Charles Bronsan cheapy crime dramas and gave longevity to his Death Wish series of films.  Cannon also provided another franchise called American Ninja with action star Michael Dudikoff.  Dudikoff, nor any of his films won an Oscar, much less a Golden Globe or even an MTV Movie Award.  The poor guy with twenty bottles of mousse in his hair didn’t even get turned into an action figure. 

While I did see Death Wish 3, ahem…five times in the movie theatres (I mean there’s an outstanding final thirty minutes of a wall to wall shootout action in that film, and it was all a 13 year old boy yearned for at the time), Golan’s best product that I have at least seen to date is The Delta Force, featuring Chuck Norris, Lee Marvin and a host of stars most recently having been featured in every disaster film to crank out of the 1970s; Shelly Winters from The Poseidon Adventure, Robert Vaughn from The Towering Inferno and George Kennedy from every Airport movie under the sun.

Golan directed this film that was inspired by the 1985 hijacking of a TWA flight heading for Athens, Greece and he pretty much directed two different kinds of films in one.  The first hour focuses on the Libyan hijackers, led by an unrecognizable and terrifying Robert Forester, and their hostages.  A plane carrying mostly Americans is taken captive in midair and is diverted to Beirut.  Like the real-life event, a German born American stewardess is forced to select the Jewish passengers (Winters, Lanie Kazan, Joey Bishop and Martin Balsam) and separate them for an unknown fate.  An American Navy serviceman is also brutally tormented and later, an airline pilot (Bo Svenson) is interviewed by the media from the open window of the grounded plane’s cockpit, complete with a gun to his head.  All of this happened during that harrowing event.  Golan does a very good job of capturing these moments with heartbreak, fear and genuine terror.  The Jewish selection process is a scene that I take very personally, and it is not overdramatized as it glaringly hearkens back to the atrocities of the Nazis who sent millions of Jews to certain death, torture and concentration camps.  Remember, this film was released only 40 years after those terrible events.  Golan’s filmmaking makes certain the Holocaust is never forgotten.

Sprinkled throughout these first hour scenes are bits and pieces of the American strike team known as The Delta Force, led with gruff command by Lee Marvin and silent but deadly Chuck Norris.  These guys gear up, dress in black uniforms, load their aircraft carrier with motorcycles and armed dune buggies, listen to Marvin’s instructions and wait and wait and wait.  There’s something to appreciate in the wait of these skilled snipers and specialists.  Golan doesn’t rush the action.  Material is depicted showing Marvin, Norris and company exploring the options they have for taking out the terrorists and rescuing the hostages.  This is not a typical Rambo movie of destroying the village just to save it.  However, once the action starts, it doesn’t stop and Golan lets Norris do all the things he’s known for while arguably inspiring how POWERFUL Chuck Norris is compared to…well…anything else.  Don’t forget!  Inside Chuck Norris’ chin is ANOTHER FIST!  Also, Superman wears Chuck Norris underoos!  Chuck Norris can unscramble an egg!  Chuck Norris made a snowman out of rain!  It’s hard not to deny these claims when the film boasts a strike team consisting of 20-30 members, but Norris seems to do all the work and heavy lifting. 

It’s hard not to get caught up in The Delta Force.  You wanna see these terrorists get blown up real good.  You also wanna see Chuck Norris ride an agile moped equipped with an endless supply of missiles and ammunition ready to overturn enemy vehicles and bloody up a bad guy until he screams and turns on one foot before dropping dead with his eyes opened.  You also may get a jolt of energy from Alan Silvestri’s rah rah theme music that quickly stays embedded in your subconscious.  I read that his music was used for a time when the Indy 500 would air on TV.  That does not surprise me at all.  Its symphonic themes are as memorable as the Monday Night Football tune.

Unlike, other Norris films this crowd pleaser doesn’t just rely on him and his roundhouse kicks.  There’s a little bit of that schtick for the fans, but I gotta say I was truly touched by the cast as whole.  Lee Marvin (in his final film) echoes George C Scott’s portrayal of Patton.  The collective hostage cast are not overdramatized here.  Golan managed to capture a history to them.  While I thought Shelley Winters was a such joke for fodder in Poseidon, here she is truly sorrowful as she is separated from her husband played by Balsam.  Kazan and Bishop are equally touching.  Reader, this Jewish guy originally from New Jersey, who attended ten years of Yeshiva education, recognizes these folks when they are spirited vacationers early on, and then later tormented prisoners who’ve faced horrors like this before.

I know that Cannon Films also produced another favorite called Runaway Train with an Oscar nominated performance from Jon Voight.  As I write this column, I’ve yet to see that film.  It’s on my radar.  That being said, I have to wonder if Golan and company had stayed on this trajectory of genuine drama like he mustered in portions of The Delta Force, what powerfully impactful films might he also had up his sleeve.  Unfortunately, we were left with too much excess like American Ninja, I’m afraid.

Still, after watching The Delta Force you’ll absolutely believe that Chuck Norris can see things that don’t exist and that he counted to infinity…twice!


By Marc S. Sanders

THE Predator has got to be the worst movie of 2018. Writer and director all about killed the franchise allowing its new property owner, Disney, to never give the possibility of new stories another thought.

It’s terrible.

It makes zero sense. The action is clunky and indecipherable at times. The Predator creatures are not cool. They are ugly for the sake of being ugly, and I think they are pretty stupid as well, as stupid as their pet Predator dogs.

How does a writer of Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, and Kiss, Kiss Bang, Bang, write a piece of crap like this where (get this!!!) Olivia Munn plays a JOHNS HOPKINS BIOLOGIST (yes…you read that right) who thankfully is an expert in hand to hand combat and machine guns???? I never knew Johns Hopkins offered military training with every biology major.

This movie is so dumb that it ends with the line “I hope that comes in a size 42.” BRILLIANT!!!

If anything, the sole redeeming quality of this shit is that it motivates me to keep on writing. If this idiotic garbage can get green lit by a major studio, then my material must be Oscar worthy.

SIDE NOTE: Olivia Munn did a last minute petition to have a scene deleted that she realized she performed with a registered sexual predator. Sadly, I think she did this guy an inadvertent favor. Now he doesn’t have to be included in this horrible bomb.


By Marc S. Sanders

The last of my salute to Dan Allmond is to carry on his enthusiasm for Venom. Sadly, I don’t think he got to see it. Here is a little of what Dan had to say following the release of the trailer:


My take (and I think Dan would not fight me on this, but he’d love the film nonetheless):

Venom is one of the few movies where a special effect occurs, and I look everywhere else except at the magic of the special effect. Probably because the special effect is not that magical.

This is a Marvel film that Disney wisely opted not to pee on to claim its territory. Disney knows when a turd smells horrifically bad. So Sony and Columbia Pictures settled on it…and…well…they are making money off of the film considering it bested Lady GaGa and had a record opening weekend. Tell me though, reader, which screen attraction will probably still be in theatres come Thanksgiving, and thereafter? Lady GaGa or Venom? Venom may have shot box office elephant in its opening weekend. Lady GaGa will happily collect mice for the next 12-18 weeks. Truth is in longevity.

This movie makes no sense. Moreover, it makes no sense that talents like Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams signed on to do this junk mired in literal black goo. Forget about the Venom character for a second. The first 30 minutes of this under two hours masterpiece is nothing but Hardy’s unlikable, unattractive schlub of a journalist character, Eddie Brock, walking down sidewalks, speaking to homeless people while getting a newspaper (what journalist reads newspapers anymore?), picking up a soda at a convenience store, eating dinner with Williams, and through all this there’s no Venom in sight. This is oh so boring. This is oh so uninteresting. Then, we jump ahead and this alien goo leaps on Eddie and now the poor sap hears a gravely voice in his head at inopportune moments. Later (seems like a long while later but maybe it was only 5 minutes), Eddie is trying to keep a bulbous, black monster with teeth and a very phallic looking tongue from “coming out of him.” Reader, the best way to describe the art in a special effect like this is to envision Tom Hardy trying to take a shit through his face. It ain’t pretty.

So Venom speaks, and I imagine the three credited writers of this dreck were hoping for a salute to All of Me with Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin or The Odd Couple where different personalities clash. You know what…scratch that. These guys were probably not bright enough to go to those films for inspiration. You see that’s what “Venom” needs. It needs a disagreeable couple forced to live with one another; forced to argue with one another; an internal struggle…IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR????

Instead, we are to believe that the Venom personality is hungry so it eats the heads off of live humans and swallows live lobster whole. The lobster bit kinda works because you actually see the lobster get chewed up and swallowed. The head thing? Yeah…no, because it all happens off screen. Why would the filmmakers do that????? You have this black as night gooey hulking mass of a creature with this tongue and steak knife teeth and you don’t even see the gory destruction that he’s apparently capable of. It’s like Moe throwing the pie at Curly but you are denied of seeing the splat in Curly’s face. That’s not the script’s fault. That’s just lousy production value. That’s lousy filmmaking.

The Venom personality is not funny. He has no wit. He has no memorable lines. He’s certainly not cute. He just interrupts Eddie at times when no one else is even in the room. Eddie talks to him but there are often times when no else is there to offer the standard dumbfounded look and ask Eddie the age old question “Who are you talking to?” There could have been something at least a little redeeming here. Give the character some humor and wisecracks. Throw in a little slapstick. Make him like the Joker or the Riddler or something!!!!! Could Venom just crack a joke, maybe? It’d make the pill easier to swallow, or in this case the head.

Michelle Williams cashed in a paycheck to pay the mortgage. The most she does with her role is wear a wig to hide her well recognized bob haircut. Otherwise, there’s nothing here for her.

Lastly, and this is a frustrating shortcoming for me at least. Eddie breaks into this wealthy villain’s lab where the goo is housed. He sets off the alarms like a complete moron. He gets attached to said goo and then he gets out of there with the help of the Venom goo. Cut to the next day and the big bad spends a long five minutes of movie time asking and interrogating with threats who was it that broke in. Dude!!! You are supposed to be this wealthy scientific megalomaniac that sends ships into space with high tech security and glass and steel and alarms everywhere. You don’t have one single security camera in this lab?????????? Sony is a producer of this film, and yet they don’t have a prop room anywhere to offer up a couple of camcorders even????????? Reader, what does that tell you about Venom?