Venom

«Venom» surely isn’t a good movie but I still kinda liked it. It’s not so bad that it’s good but it’s a clumsy, somewhat lovable construction of uninspired storytelling, average visual effects (but pretty production design) and questionable characters saved by only one thing: Tom Hardy in the title roles as Eddie Brock and his alter ego Venom, bromancing the hell out of almost every scene they’re in.

If the rumours are true, a rushed production schedule and a late decision to not make «Venom» rated R might explain this uneven mess of a movie. The end result makes it look as if the creatives decided that if they’re not allowed to do a proper bloody version, let’s make it silly,… like a Buddy Cop movie with a hint of Screwball-Rom-Com sprinkled on top and some superfluous CGI action added for the studio and the uninitiated crowd.

And somehow, that worked for me. Like the «Tom Hardy Show» that was «Bronson» sans a good movie which would only distract and might take the focus off his performance.

I doubt that Sony really knew where they were going with this. But good for them they didn’t try (and fail again) to copy Marvel Studios’ approach and took a different way* – a strange, meandering route without any direction, purpose or destination, but still…

This silly mixed bag helps Tom Hardy’s performance to stand out even more (and somehow makes it even more enjoyable) and presents «Venom» as a strange but funny, rather forgettable, but entertaining stumble of a movie.


*) «Venom’s» mildly amusing second after credit scene – some minutes taken directly from their upcoming animated feature «Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse» – seems to confirm how truly lost they are with their remaining rights to use «Spider-Man», not knowing what the hell to do with them**.

**) At this point,  I’ve given up trying to understand which studio has the right to which characters under which circumstances, but I doubt that cramming all the iterations of all the Spider-Men into one movie is the sensible way to go.


Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 2

After having joined the jolly bandwagon of critics stating that TV-entertainment is the new cinema thanks to longer runtime giving writers much more opportunities to develop their characters, arcs and storylines, I lately keep being disappointed by Netflix’s (and similar) productions.
I find most of the current series either lazy, unfinished, blown-up or, even worse, boring and not worthy of my time.

Over at Amazon Prime Video the situation doesn’t seem to be much better: The series I tried to commit to («Hand of God» and «Startup») where just too earnest, unfunny and bland to keep them in my queue. (I’m even going back to finally finish «Mad Men» just because it’s the lighter, funnier, much better way to spend my hours commuting to work).

Looking back now, I even wonder whether the more recent Golden Age of TV Drama has come and gone much faster than I thought (and hoped) it would. The quality just seems to have gotten lost somewhere between Kevin Spacey’s infamous exit and Joel Kinnaman’s gratouitus abs.

Having said that I must admit that the second season of «Iron Fist» is much more entertaining than the godawful first season. The characters are much more likeable and it’s not as easy as it used to be to fall asleep during an episode (though I managed).

Shame though they threw Davos (Sacha Dhawan) under the bus by turning the best thing of season one into an arrogant, delusional prick without the tragedy or depth he deserved.
And many of the most interesting ideas in this season seem to be either an afterthought without much impact or pure build-up for season 3 .

Sad.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

So let’s tick off that box in this year’s comic book movies list – or better: ANT🐜 off this part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe ANThology🐜.

I didn’t ANTicipate🐜 much and «Ant-Man and the Wasp» wouldn’t disappoint. It made me laugh (not as much as the first one though) and left me fully satisfied. All in all it’s pure and solid Marvel Studios ANTertainment🐜 as good as it can be for one of their «smaller» side-projects while still hinting at some bigger role for Scott Lang to play in the grand MCU scheme of things.

I won’t even address the elephANT🐜 in the room that «Ant-Man and the Wasp» is…, it’s…  I got nothing there, just wANTed🐜 to put one more «ANT🐜» in there. It’s too hot to be clever today, I cAN’T🐜 even bother to give too much ANTtention🐜 to spelling in this climANTe🐜.

All I have is: Go see it, watch the two mid- and after credit scenes and let’s leave it at that ANTiclimactic🐜 review, ok?

Fine. Thank you. ANT🐜 have a nice day…


🐜) Warning: This review may contain some bad insect-related puns.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

DAMMIT! I’M SUCH A FOOL! I just realized: I WAS THE ONLY ONE AT THE SCREENING  AND DIDN’T MAKE ANY «SOLO» JOKE at the concession stand! That might have been a better starter to a conversation in which I learnt that an almost empty theatre didn’t really matter nowadays (in some aspect) because movies are delivered digitally now and don’t wear with every projection.

Which wouldn’t make much of a difference because «Solo» isn’t any good to begin with.

Even beforehand, I had pretty much made up my mind about Alden Ehrenreich’s Han-thankful job and his more than Han-likely success in taking over Harrison Ford’s iconic role. Ehrenreich surely didn’t help but after seeing «Solo», he cannot be made solely responsible for this disappointment of a movie. I doubt even Mr. Ford (or Harrison, as I like to call him, though he’d rather I wouldn’t) himself could have made this Han-inspired, Han-funny wannabe Star Wars «adventure» work.

It’s too generic even for a franchise as formulaic as the Star Wars universe. I haven’t seen such an empty, self-serving and Han-motivated mess of jumbled together bits and pieces of canon and fan service in a long, long time. (Not unlike this very review you’re reading right now).

There were some nice ideas in there that I might have liked but they were presented in such a Han-connected way I couldn’t have bothered less.

#notMyStarWars

And now a personal message to my co-worker Cello: Don’t go see that movie! I can’t tell you why because of spoilers. Just don’t!

«Grohe Essence» Faucet

Maybe this is all my fault? Perhaps I should have honoured my father more. A humble, most esteemed plumber in a picturesque village in the middle of Switzerland, almost two decades ago. (He’s alive and well, thanks for asking, but still…)

Or I may could have started earlier with decalcify my faucet regularly.

Who knows such things?

Then maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t be forced today to come before you and use the mighty blogging voice that was bequeathed to me by you, the people, to inform you that the faucets in my bathroom (made by the company «Grohe» in their «Essence» product line) must be one of the very most stupidest examples of industrial design I’ve ever come across in all my years of endless, gruelling cycles of procrastination and cleaning.

«Why» you ask?

Because It’s just not fu*king possible to remove the damn faucet aerator (that thing at the end where the water comes out).

After a tiny little window of opportunity (sometime between five minutes and four years after installation) has passed, say goodbye to your hopes and dreams to ever remove and clean it.

PARENTAL ADVISORY: EXPLICIT CONTENT. (Yellow marks the spots where the removing tool is supposed to get a grip.)

The problem presents itself as a combination of bad design and proprietary standards: Not only can the aerator not be reached by a monkey wrench. No, that devilish little thing is only accessible with a proprietary «Grohe Grooved Key Disassembly Tool» which may be purchased at a reasonable price on Amazon, but itself is built so extremely frail that I wouldn’t dare to use it without trying once more to descale the faucet beforehand. Which of course in itself is a futile endeavour because of gravity. But even then, my efforts remained an unsuccessful pipe dream (pun very much intended). Not even my new steam cleaner (the middle-aged man’s home workout station) would be of much help.

The condom was planned to hold the decalcifier fluid in place, which it didn’t do because of capillary action. (I guess. Damn you physics!)

Not only am I extremely disappointed by this latest experience with home appliances,… I might have lost the will to clean altogether. Don’t judge me. After all, I’m just a man…

…and not a woman. They are obviously genetically superior in cleaning…

…as someone less gender-sensitive may say…

…not me.

The fine people at «Grohe» in their ivory tower might call it a «faucet aerator», but for a hard-working (for the sake of argument), honest man like me, it’s a truly universally piece of sh!t, impossible to clean for all genders, species, classes and kingdoms alike. Removing this darn thing remains an interesting concept, an abstract idea,  an elusive mirage, if you will, unattainable maybe even for life and reality itself.

Who would have thought? After all, I may even have learned something today, even grown as a person.  Doesn’t that feel nice?

Love you, Dad!

Rafeman, Rafedad and a new faucet that is not mine.

 


Fun fact: A german synonym for «aerator» is «Vertikutierer» which translated back to english means «Scarifier» and seems appropriate in the context of this article. 


Photo credits: rafeman | grohe.ch | bernau-schwarzwald.de, Michael Trefzer

Mr. Robot

Just dropping in with an important message to all the fans of awesome TV-entertainment: If you haven’t already, watch M. Robot! I’m just about to finish the third season on Amazon Prime and I’m still flabbergasted on how breathtakingly good it is.

As always, I won’t go into any details but don’t be fooled by the fact that every season of Sam Esmail‘s show is basically a retelling of one or several modern movie classics…

While taking common storylines, tropes and themes and turning them upside down (or not) seems to be the basic idea, it’s just a jumping-off point to dive into some really stunning storytelling, cinematography, top-notch performances and use of music and sound, reinventing the show with almost every other episode.

And while you’re here, check out the new trailer for «Bohemian Rhapsody», Rami Malek‘s take on Freddie Mercury. I’m not sure yet if I like the idea of this «Queen» biopic, but if Malek really gets his teeth in it, he actually might be able to pull it off.

Basic

Was zum Teufel war denn das? Ich gebe zu, im mag (gute) Filme mit militärischem Hintergrund. Allzu leicht lasse ich mich meist von diesem Gefasel über Kameradschaft und Pflichterfüllung einlullen. Nur schade hat dieser Film aber auch gar nichts mit dieser Thematik zu tun. Es sollte ein Film mit überraschenden Wendungen und einem «The Sixth Sense»-Ende werden.

Das ist er auch geworden, nur dass dabei die gesamte Logik und Nachvollziehbarkeit der Geschichte flöten geht. Der Handlungsverlauf, bei dem in verschiedenen Versionen immer wieder die gleiche Geschichte erzählt wird, ändert seine Richtung so oft, dass man als Zuschauer gar nicht mehr mitkommt. Ich finde, den Hauch einer Ahnung zu haben, wo man in der Geschichte gerade steht, ist doch irgendwie ganz nützlich. Das alles ginge ja noch und wäre als grundsätzliche Idee nicht zu verachten. Nur leider macht das ganze Verwirrspiel am Ende gar keinen Sinn innerhalb der Story; Zwar wurde das Ziel erreicht, indem der Zuschauer an der Nase herum geführt worden ist. Doch betrachtet man diese Scharade aus der Perspektive von z.B. Connie Nielsens Charakter, war das einfach nur viel Lärm um nichts.

Nichts gegen die Spannung im Film. Die Story ist spannend erzählt und abwechslungsreich gefilmt, Travolta und Jackson spielen gewohnt lustvoll und scheinen echt Spass an ihrem Job zu haben, was in ihrem Schauspiel auch angenehm rüberkommt. Leider ist man meist so verwirrt, dass man sich gar nicht mehr um die eigentlichen Sprünge zwischen falscher Fährte und Wahrheit kümmert und versucht, die Handlung irgendwie in ihren Grundzügen zu verstehen.

Nachdem ich fast alle Hoffnung verloren hatte, wechselte der Film am Ende übrigens noch einmal in eine ganz andere Richtung. Am Schluss kam mir der Film vor wie eine von Tarantino inszenierte Version von «Mission impossible». Das ganze fand ich irgendwie amüsant: Als hätten die Filmemacher von «Basic» erkannt, was sie da für einen Schrott produziert hatten und sich entschlossen, noch mal 5 Minuten Nonsense anzuhängen. Diese 5 Minuten blieben mir in positiver Erinnerung, weil dort irgendwie die Selbstironie, die im Rest des Films fehlte, nachgeholt wurde. Dieses Ende im Aktionspack mit Travolta’s genussvoll-süffigem Spiel ist vielleicht grade mal das halbe Kinoticket wert. Aber man sollte den Film trotzdem im Kino sehen, denn auf DVD und im TV würde man so was nicht bis zum (schönen) Ende durchstehen.

Eine Theorie zum Abschluss:

Ich vermute, im nächsten Halbjahr werden noch einige solcher abstrusen Filme im Kino erscheinen, die an sich keinen Sinn machen. Es könnte sich dabei um ein Multi-Feature-Projekt handeln. Mehrere solcher Filme bilden zusammen ein Netzwerk von verwirrenden Geschichten, die nur Sinn machen, wenn man sie in Zusammenhang mit den anderen Werken betrachtet. Schliesslich ist es beim zweiten Teil von «Matrix» auch nicht viel anders. Wenn wir gerade davon sprechen, vielleicht IST «Basic» ein Teil von »The Matrix» und…so, jetzt ist es wohl an der Zeit, meine Pillen zu nehmen.

Archives | First published: September 24, 2003

V for Vendetta

Remember, remember the 5th of November

Wohlan, wohlan. Was war es, wovor ich den willkommenen Websurfer zuvorkommend warnen wollte? Wahrscheinlich war es die zu erwartende Verwirrtheit des Lesers verwurzelt in dem wohl etwas ungewohnt wohlwollenden Fazit, welches ich dem Film «V for Vendetta» vermache. Ich weigere mich nicht, mich gegen den wahrscheinlich zu erwartenden Vorwurf einer ungewöhnlich warmen und den Wachowskis gegenüber wohlgesinnten Wortwahl zu erwehren, trotzdem will ich versuchen, meine vielleicht wankelmütig anmutenden Phrasen, welche in wahrlich wundersamen Widerspruch zu meinen sonst favorisierten Verrissen stehen, zu verteidigen. Vorgreifend will ich jedoch wohlweislich versichern, dass kein Wort dieses «V for Vendetta» feiernden Fazits den Sphären der Unwahrheit entfleucht, sondern dieses Votum tief in den Weiten meines sich vor phantastischen Werken verbeugenden Wesens verwurzelt ist.

Ich verbeuge mich vor der phantastischen visuellen Vereinigung von kritischer Vehemenz und filmischem Schaffen dieses Werkes und verfalle sogleich gewillt in in einen Lobgesang für H. Weaving, der wiederholt im Vorhaben reüssiert, die gesamte Besetzung zum Final dieses filmischen Feuerwerks wie sich selber aussehen zu lassen.
Gleichwohl ein wahrer Schwall von wunderbar wohltönenden Phrasen für Madame Portman, welche andere in Hollywood wandelnden Weiblein wie Warzen auf schwelendem Wundbrand erscheinen lässt.

Man verzeihe mir die willkürliche Wahl, bei diesem Wortschwall des Lobes der Form den Vorzug zu geben und nehme meine Versicherung gewillt entgegen, das nächste filmische Oeuvre wieder in wahrhaftigerer, gewohnt verkommener Weise zu reviewen und bis zu nächsten vergleichbaren Beweihräucherungen dieser Art und Weise eine Weile zuzuwarten.

Archives | First published: March 20, 2006

Avengers: Infinity War

Let’s bring the Infinity War week to an end by answering the most important question: Is it any good?

Though the Marvel Studios have managed to release one feature film after the other without screwing up, they have well proven their ability to fail with some of their more underwhelming series on Netflix. So I could nothing but hope that I wouldn’t be disappointed by their climactic showdown that could set an end to all the comic book movies (which of course it won’t).

The chance of failure was not unlikely, given the high bar they kept raising in the last ten years and the sheer scope of the whole undertaking.

Well, we all knew Marvel Studios’ lucky streak would come to an end one day – A sad day.

But that day is not today. Holy fucking moly! What a fantastic ride! Oh yes, it’s good. I mean: g o o d. It’s spectacular! Thank you Marvel Studios to let your first 10 amazing years end on such a high note, giving a now grown up man all the comic book movie his 9-year-old self would never even have dreamed of.

I have often claimed to regret to be too young to have seen the original «Star Wars» when it first was theatrically released. But that’s a low price to pay to be alive and well today and be able to enjoy wonderful things like «Avengers: Infinity War».

Post Scriptum:

Thank You pic.twitter.com/IP3tLSwQmS

Jessica Jones Season 2

After the disappointing «Defenders» and «Iron Fist», «Jessica Jones» remains one of the stronger Marvel Netflix series thanks to Krysten Ritter who really made the character her own.

I’m all in for female-driven storytelling and I guess it worked just fine. But I’m wondering if the best central conflict the creators could choose for our heroine this season really was the fear of turning into her mother? It’s quite the leap from codependency, rape and trauma in the first season to this.

I’m not sure why a similar thing worked much better and more effective with Tony Stark’s Daddy issues. I guess it has to do with the fact that writing a strong female superhero character is still a relatively new, even unexplored field. (Or maybe it’s just ’cause I’m a bloke).

Let’s give Jessica and the audience some credit and let her do some superhero things, shall we? There must be some middleground to this. And there might be: Though it didn’t really lead anywhere (besides avoiding the issue what might happen when the Hulk and Black Widow would «get it on»), Marvel tried it in «Avengers: Age of Ultron» when Natasha Romanoff had to deal with her inability to bear children. And she did it while saving the world.

If not, I fear that «Defenders» Season 2 will revolve around Jessica Jones’ struggle to buy a pair of new jeans that doesn’t make her look fat while Iron Fist tries to become a social media influencer.

Post Scriptum:

I hate to say that I probably didn’t give enough credit for the fact(?) that Jessica Jones Season 2 might be less about her fear of turning into her mother than about coming to terms with a loved one losing the battle against mental illness…

Mea culpa… oh, look: Isn’t that Thanos over there annihilating half of the universe just cause he’s in love with a chick who happens to be frakking death itself? Men are simple…