Two big action films coming to DVD and Blu-ray fall short, but a family drama works.
“Venom”; 2 stars: The story would have worked better if the central casting wasn’t so far off the mark. Tom Hardy (“Mad Max: Fury Road”) has established himself as one of the most intense actors on the planet, but he never seems comfortable playing Eddie Brock, the man who merges with the alien to give life to Venom.
It’s not the superpowers that win over an audience, it’s the amount of sympathy that can be created for the hero. Hardy’s performance as Brock stumbles from an uncomfortable love interest to renegade reporter to a Jekyll and Hyde situation with Venom. There’s not a point in the movie where Brock’s plight is compelling enough to make him a relatable reluctant hero.
Director Brock Fleischer has shown an ability to present action with just the right touch of humor in the film “Zombieland” and the TV series “Santa Clarita Diet.” His efforts in “Venom” never blend smoothly, which leaves the comic moments coming across like they don’t belong. It is possible that what looks to be comedic moments are actually dramatic scenes that just didn’t work.
“The Predator”; 2 stars: If this film was to be evaluated on action alone, it would get high marks, as there is little respite from the carnage the Predator brings. The explosions are big, the gun battles relentless and the alien technology out-of-this-world cool.
But, if you are looking for a shred of intelligence in the story, prepare to be disappointed. It’s sad that the overall script is so lacking because there are a few glimmers of brilliance. There’s both a nod to the original film with a classic line of dialogue and several connections to other Predator tales.
In the end, “The Predator” is a killer when it comes to action. But, when it comes to the script, it’s dead on arrival.
“Life Itself”; 3 stars: Dan Fogelman has used the same approach as he has with his TV series “This Is Us” with this feature film that he both penned and directed. He’s taken the format of looking at a family through different periods in their lives, making sure to caress every major milestone. The film, just like Fogelman’s TV series, makes no excuses for its overly sentimental approach to life, leaving it up to the audience to either be pulled into the multigenerational tale or dismiss it as too cloying.
His skill is being able to create what appears to be three very different stories and weave them into one cohesive family album. In the final moments, all the diverse family themes combine to create a feeling of the movie coming full circle. There’s plenty of manipulation along the way, but no more than Fogelman’s used to make “This Is Us” one of the biggest surprises in network TV in a decade.
ALSO NEW ON DVD AND BLU-RAY DEC. 18
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AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL HD DEC. 18
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