Movie Review: Halloween

The dumpster fire that is known as the Halloween franchise is back in an attempt to extinguish this disaster that has built up for decades. Director David Gordon Green (Vice Principles and Pineapple Express) teams up to write alongside Danny McBride (Vice Principles, Pineapple Express, and This Is the End) and Jeff Fradley (Vice Principles) the definitive sequel to the classic slasher flick. That is right, no more brother and sister Laurie and Michael or whatever Season of the Witch were meant to be. Despite some bumps in the road, Green, McBride, and Fradley manage to deliver the sequel that fans deserve.

Since the horrific murders from 1978, forty years later, Michael Myers (Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney) manages an impossible escape (seriously, it does not make much sense) during a transfer to a new facility. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has never been able to get past the terrifying events. Due to her trauma, her life has gone downhill except for her preparation for this moment, to finally kill Myers. She must protect her family, who have exiled her due to her mental health, and stop the masked killer.

Seeing Curtis reprise her iconic role is a dream come true for fans, but she is not alone in great characters. While her performance is tremendous. Her portrayal of a woman forever damaged by what has happened to her and her friends is believable in every way. Allyson (Andi Matichak) is Laurie’s granddaughter, a teenager living the best she can with a wacky family that turns for the worse every year during the spooky holiday. Her father Ray (Toby Huss) is one of my personal favorites. The goofy dad who annoys his daughter, but when it comes down to it, must try to protect his family. Some of the funniest lines (yeah, there is humor in this gory movie) come from Ray, and they land every time. Her boyfriend and friends Cameron (Dylon Arnold), Dave (Miles Robbins), Oscar (Drew Scheid), and Vicky (Virginia Gardner) have fantastic chemistry that makes these high school buddies feel real. They manage to capture the goofiness of a group of friends in high school and the dumb teenage drama that can follow.

Not everyone is in a good light in the film. Karen (Judy Greer) is that naive, annoying character who drove me insane with every dumb word out of her mouth. She is the daughter of Laurie and the mother and wife of Ray and Allyson. I feel sorry for these people to have this woman in their life. The typical doctor who is obsessed with his patient Michael Myers, Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) might be even worse, but I will let that surprise you by how annoying his story becomes. Then there are the two dumb journalists who suck at their job, Dana (Rhian Rees) and her partner Aaron (Jeffery Hall). Somehow we got another movie with bad, stupid journalists just like Eddie Brock from Venom. We don’t need this stereotype, why not make smarter characters?

Besides some likable characters, the best aspect of Halloween is the skin crawling intensity. The pacing through the film is well done, a nice jog that moves the story along. Then the brakes are pressed down to a slow drive that builds up the tension. The moments of never feeling safe when you know Myers is around, but have no idea where will make anyone full of anxiety. The Shape lurking in the background that you can spot as he walks over to his next victim is superbly done. While not a scary movie, it is nerve-racking as anything imaginable.

Since people experienced in nothing but comedy have written and directed the film, there is plenty of humor throughout the first two acts. Much of it does not take away from the intensity, surprisingly most of the humor hits the right notes and the correct time. Just wait til you see Julian (Jibrail Nantambu) then you know what I mean by excellent levity in such an anxiety-inducing movie.

While the first two acts are great, the bridge into the third act has some trouble. A dumb move by a character who shall not be named leads the audience into the final moments of the film, and it is just annoying. Why do horror movies lose their footing at some point in the plot every time? The reason, a lack of creativity in the writing process to end this story. While the overall end is pretty strong, the road to it is rough.

The film is made by not just filmmakers, but by people who are fans of the franchise and want to see Michael Myers back to his former glory. With that said, they manage to throw in many references and nods to the original. For the most part, I love this aspect. A nod and apology to longtime fans for how much the series has gone down to hell. With the original music, a similar intro as the first, and plenty of recreated scenes will put a smile on fans. However, sometimes it felt a bit overwhelming of already used ideas. Rather than an homage, we get a fan-made film that acts childish at parts instead of treating being an adult.

The soundtrack is fantastic with a mix of the classic tune and a brand new twist. The new track takes the iconic 1978 and gives it a modern twist. Giving the people who may have never seen many older horror movies a taste of what the music used to sound like while giving people something with a modernized feel.

For a slasher flick with a satisfying body count, the violence, for the most part, was lackluster. Some death scenes were brutal and made it worth the wait to see Myers slaughter his way through the town. Sadly, many of the deaths were shown off screen or given minimal brutality. The aftermath would be shown more often than the actual murder, appeasing my want for The Shape to kill his way through dozens of people, but left me wanting more in violence.

Halloween is a fun, exciting sequel that fixes the issues in the series while delivering film fans would want. It stumbles in many areas, especially with some characters and the final twenty minutes. In the end, Green directed an enjoyable horror movie that has some brilliantly creepy moments despite some failures along the way.

Score: 7/10

Image via Universal Studios

 

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Album Review: Disturbed – Evolution

Disturbed have always been a special band in my heart. They are my favorite band who got me into music. Sure, the group has some easy to spot flaws across their career, but they manage to deliver solid rock songs that great melodies and moving meanings. Now with the band’s new record, Evolution, they are trying to change perspectives to show they are growing. I thought I would never be that surprised by the quartet, but they manage to do more than just that. Many bands try to “evolve,” Disturbed shows how to change your sound while maintaining your identity. Rock and metal bands, pay attention to these pros.

To not scare away fans by allowing so many acoustic songs on the album, they have split it into two halves. One half is the traditional Disturbed style, while others might remind you of their hit cover of Sound of Silence. They don’t split it dead even; tracks vary throughout Evolution. You might get two or three heavy songs in a row then get a couple of softer tracks to calm you down, or make you cry. I was kept on my toes every second of the record, not knowing what will pop out of the shadows.

The record openers Are You Ready, and No More give a sense of the tone the heavy tracks are taking. A politically driven record that is perfectly timed when the world is on fire. Are You Ready is fast with some synthesizers to give for a Sickness feeling for old school fans. Much of the record gives them feeling by its aggression and use of electronics. It is 2018, so might as well use what tech giants have given us.

Speaking of aggression, two of the meanest songs are The Best Ones Lie and the bonus track This VenomThe Best Ones Lie is one of the most political songs off the album and one of the most in your face. The band has not released anything angrier since their 2008 hit IndestructibleThis Venom uses distortion while utilizing Mike Wengren’s powerful drumming to beat you down. The percussive nature and David Draiman’s vocals give This Venom a dangerous feeling.

Out of the many surprises found is Another Time. Not only do Disturbed deliver their most distorted song ever, but it also steers in several different directions that nobody can see coming. Prepare for a rollercoaster of a variety of methods for instrumentation.

The ballads are what knocks it out of the park and show Disturbed have evolved in more ways than one. A Reason to Fight is a rhythmic acoustic song that feels inspired by the band’s wildly successful Sound of Silence, while still feeling fresh. Some are more traditional in what someone might think of regarding an “acoustic song” like Hold On To Memories. Watch You Burn adds beauty to the beast by taking the regular Disturbed rhythm and aggression by turning everything upside down. The album closes (before going into bonus tracks if you choose the deluxe edition, which you better be listening to) with a somber and depressing note with Already Gone. Draiman delivers his most emotional vocal performance to date, making for a perfect balance from the explosive introduction with Are You Ready.

Usually, the biggest highlight tends to be Draiman’s animalistic vocals. Just like the previous album, Immortalized, he shies away from any of his iconic noises. He does nothing too different in the heavier tracks. He shines more so in the ballads, which was a significant focus for this record. While he is still his excellent self, I want to hear more zoo animal noises that I have come to love through the band’s vast catalog of music.

Draiman continues to deliver powerful lyrics that will move the listener emotionally and provoke from thoughts about the world. A Reason to Fight tackles addiction and depression. The main focus is the many people Draiman, and the rest of the hard rockers know who have lost their lives due to those issues. Already Gone maintains the statement after losing someone you love. Are You Ready, The Best Ones Lie, and several other heavier anthems discuss politics, something Disturbed has taken on many times throughout their career.

What shines through more than anything is guitar player Dan Donegan, drummer Mike Wengren, and bass player John Moyer. Donegan explodes with experimental solos that will turn the heads of fans. Savior of Nothing, Are You Ready, and Another Time are some of his best solos in his career. Immortalized made for a great return for the band but lacked any superb solos from Donegan. He has always been the member to try different methods like bringing out pianos and synthesizers. Wengren shines with his tactical drumming skills that are the base for both the softest and heaviest tracks. Moyer’s explosive style stands out on several tracks, most of all on A Reason to Fight.

Fans will get familiar vibes from older styles from the band’s early work while getting a feeling from the direction from Immortalized along with brand new ideas. I am always ecstatic about a new record from Disturbed, but I was skeptical how much the band would change for Evolution, I was hoping for them to make drastic changes to keep their creative juices flowing. They put their money where their mouths are and proved the world that they are a creative force that cannot stop. New fans or old, this is a record that every follower of the group should run out to get because Disturbed are back and are taking over the rock and metal world.

Score: 9/10

Buy the album here:

Image via Reprise Records

13 Horror Games You Must Play During Halloween Season

October is here which means Halloween is around the corner. During this season, fans can come out to play as many scary games and watch movies. To celebrate, we will go over plenty of spooky games and movies in the month. To start off, let’s look at some video games that will give you nightmares.

To note, I did cheat the list by adding games with their sequels to clump them together, so let’s get over that while we are here.

#13/12: Metro: 2033 and Metro: Last Light (4A Games)

While the first game, 2033 feels a bit dated, Last Light holds up wonderfully. The world has ended in a nuclear apocalypse and creatures roam the around. Set in Russia, survivors have set inside of the subway system to avoid monsters and radiation. The games have compelling stories along with a variety of gameplay from stealth to big shootouts. Not only are they a ton of fun, but the atmosphere and survival aspects make for one intense experience. While this is not the scariest game on the list, the sense of constant danger and needing supplies to survive will give you the emotions you want to feel during Halloween.

#11/10: The Evil Within 1/2 (Tango Gameworks/Bethesda)

Bethesda published Tango Gameworks’ The Evil Within and The Evil Within 2. A psychological horror game created by the mind who brought the world Resident Evil, Shinji Mikami. The story stands are the game’s strongest point with a well thought out world with rich lore that will keep you compelled through the series. Exploring trauma and psychology in a way that many games tend to shy away from, The Evil Within is not afraid to tell its story. While the game’s lean more towards action, the horror remains strong through every minute. With elements of psychological manipulation, extreme violence, and disturbing themes, this game utilizes everything creepy to make your skin crawl.

#9: Doki Doki Literature Club! (Team Salvato)

That is right, I am recommending a dating simulator visual novel. If you know of Doki Doki then you know exactly why this game is on the list. For those of you who have never heard of the game then you should go in completely blind. That is the only way to experience Team Salvato’s bizarre visual novel.

Warning: Do not play this game if you have struggled with mental health issues now or in the past. The game can be triggering for those who suffer from depression, anxiety, suicide, and self-harm.

#8: Amnesia: The Dark Descent (Frictional Games)

To the standards of modern gaming, Amnesia: The Dark Descent might feel dated by its graphics and clunky gameplay. For its time, Amnesia was the kind of horror. By many standards for years, gamers would find it difficult to find something more horrific than Frictional Games’ masterpiece. Not putting the game on a list of horror games would be disrespectful to one of the most influential horror games of all time.

#7/6: Dead Space 1/2 (Visceral Games/EA)

The first two Dead Space games are some of the greatest games across any genre. A universe with brilliant lore and storytelling along with excellent combat and genuinely terrifying elements to give you nightmares. The use of violence and atmosphere is to the point of perfection. With the bad taste of the third entry and Visceral Games being shut down, we may never get another adventure with Isaac Clarke.

#5: Bioshock (Irrational Games/2K Games)

A thought-provoking video game is rare, but Bioshock manages to be more than just your average game. A horror game with all of the typical elements with combat, dark atmosphere, and terrifying enemies goes above and beyond to completely shake-up the industry. Some of the most gripping stories are right in Rapture with its main story and the many audiotapes that can be found to make the deceased city seem like it once had a life. Usually, silent protagonists seem out of date to me, but Bioshock managed to be the one exception for me by its execution of having a mute hero.

A message to 2K, please make another entry to this series, even if it is like the less horror-oriented Bioshock: Infinite.

#4: Dead by Daylight (Behaviour Interactive)

The horror multiplayer game delivers a unique experience. You and a few other survivors must start up five generators then escape. Meanwhile, one player is playing as a killer who is hunting you down. From original psychopaths with unique abilities to classic horror film murders such as Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers, there is a wide variety to choose from that will change play styles for both sides. The game is fun and manages to deliver unique experiences each time despite the seemingly repetitive concept. Playing the game with friends makes the game that much better. Grab some friends to survive with, or you can decide to murder them.

The game is getting constant updates such as new survivors, maps, killers, and rewards to keep players going. Go support the developers and give this game a try.

#3: Outlast (Red Barrels)

Yes, I have listed only the first game, not its sequel. Outlast 2 is one of the most disappointing games I have ever played. Let’s focus on the brilliant first game.

Outlast takes many elements from other horror games where you just run away and hide because you can’t defend yourself. What separates Red Barrels’ outstanding game from others is its story and use of lighting. 90 percent of the game is pitch black, so you have a camera with night vision to see what is hiding in the darkness. While the running and using stealth to survive is fun along with its terrifying atmosphere and use of night vision, the story about a secret experiment that explores the human psyche is the strongest element here. The influences and typical tropes are present, but the game manages to make itself as an individual in a crowded genre.

#2: Resident Evil 7 (Capcom)

Who would have thought Resident Evil would make such a comeback into the horror genre? The first-person take on the long-running franchise ended up being the refresher critics and fans needed. Taking inspiration from classic horror movies such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Evil Dead along with the well-established world of Resident Evil, you get to experience one of the most disturbing and disgusting video games made in years.

#1: Alien: Isolation (Creative Assembly/Sega)

If I had to make a list of the greatest horror games ever made, Alien: Isolation will be within the top three. Taking place after the first movie, you play as Ripley’s daughter who has to go through dangerous androids, hostile humans, and one big Xenomorph. The balance of stealth and combat is as close as you will find in the genre. Whether you are hiding around from the alien or fighting off people willing to kill anyone in their path to survive, every mechanic works with grace. The quirk that sets Alien apart from many others in the genre is that there is little safety. Of course, there are going to be scripted parts in the story, but for the most part, the Xenomorph is a living creature that will explore the ship, slaughtering everything in the way. Better grab a friend to help you endure a relentless journey full of death and terror.

Now you are set to go into the rest of the month with a nice stack of new/old video games to play for the sake of getting nightmares. Good luck sleeping after playing some of these terrifying games.

What are some of your favorite horror games? Be sure to comment your thoughts.

Buying any game linked will benefit the developers and me, you can just click a link then browse through Amazon to buy anything you want.

Header image via Capcom

Movie Review: A Star Is Born

Hollywood at it again with another remake, but the thing is, originality does not mean anything when it comes to quality. Bradley Cooper does it all in his first directed movie. The man acts, sings while playing guitar, and directs on top of everything. Just when I thought he is one of the most talented people on the planet, he gets even better. Plus he has Lady Gaga, if you have not stopped reading to watch this movie then what are you doing? Get to the theater and watch this award-worthy film.

Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is on top of the music world as a huge star. A star with addictions, unsettled mental health problems, and of course, hearing issues. He meets a talented young woman, Ally (Lada Gaga) and he believes in her right when he hears that voice. Yeah, it is that type of movie, so you think. They fall into a relationship, and we see their dynamic as the two grow as a couple and as musicians. A bleak look at the music industry and what it can do to two young lovers.

If you want to be a musician then maybe watch this movie and reconsider your choices. Cooper and Eric Roth have written an austere perspective into the musician lifestyle, along with some of the positives that come with this career path. Not just that, but a believable and well-developed relationship between Ally and Jack is on display. I can’t remember seeing a love story told so well, at least it has been quite a few years to see something so realistically depicted.

Cooper and Gaga are phenomenal, of course. They have this fantastic chemistry that makes you feel every moment they are together. When the two lovebirds are singing, I could not stop myself from smiling. When the tone gets grim, my heart is pounding, and my eyes start to water. I truly cared for these characters, and I want the best for them so much. Cooper delivers his best performance to date, which says a lot because the man has done plenty of brilliant work in the past. He has this charm that grabs the audience with that smile and deep voice. He manages to have that inner pain to his character show at all times. When the sky is blue, and the birds are chirping, you still see the pain in his eyes. In a world full of excellent TV shows that showcase how well developed and three-dimensional characters have become puts movies to shame. Cooper proves that you can still bring characters to life in just two hours. Gaga has always been a great artist, but I have never seen her given the spotlight for her acting until now. As a character who stands alone, she is captivating. When she is with Cooper, they are both a force that will not let go of you with their performances.

The rest of the cast are brilliant and bring their own substance to this intoxicating story. Bobby (Sam Elliot) as Jack’s much older brother, yeah they have Sam Elliot playing his brother, his compelling all the way through. They have a history that is complicated and well fleshed out. I felt that tension and love. Lorenzo (Andrew Dice Clay) should have had more in the film, but he was just as complex of a father for Ally. Ramon (Anthony Ramos) plays a good friend of Ally but felt more like a stand-in character. Her manager, Rez (Rafi Gavron), felt a bit generic but is lifted by the solid performance delivered by Rafi.

Sometimes music in these types of movies gets a little too much. They manage to cut into the next scene right when things might drag on too long. Surprisingly, the music is for the most part good. Even when I did not like it, every song has a specific reason. Every detail, in general, is well thought out, especially when you see Ally and Jackson play music. I knew Gaga for her incredible talents in acting and singing, but who would have thought that Cooper is such a good musician? I never knew he could, and he keeps surprising me. First, he pops up in Marvel as Rocket Raccoon and here he is playing as a mainstream musician.

The cinematography captures every mood perfectly. The delivery of the concert scenes shows how much fun and impactful music can be. When the story gets darker, the camera work and lighting show that tone to the audience. Every detail is precise. One of my favorite shots of the year is towards the final act. The use of lighting and zooming in on a house with a red light covering the entrance made for such a gorgeous view while maintaining with the tone of the scene. Nothing gets put onto the screen without a lot of thought put into it.

As we draw closer to Oscar-worthy movie season, A Star Is Born will blow any movie away. Cooper manages to make his directorial debut into a masterpiece that would have anyone thinking some A-Class director who has been making films for decades created this beautifully heartbreaking movie. No, it is the Bradley Cooper we have all known from Guardians of the Galaxy, American Hustle, American Sniper, and The Hangover. The execution of his vision is full of care. While the film is a remake; he has made it his own to stand as an individual film that does not lean on its predecessors. With some slight pacing issues in the first twenty or so minutes, it is smooth sailing that does not feel too slow or too fast. The chemistry between him and Gaga alone is the best aspect of the film, while it still brings so much more than their characters. We get a real love story that is not caked in makeup from typical Hollywood movies.  A Star Is Born is something raw, beautiful, and intoxicating. If this film does not win a single Oscar, then it is time to shut the award showdown.

Score: 10/10

Image via Warner Bros.

 

15 Heroes and Villains Who Have Worn the Symbiote Suit

With the release of Venom, I started to wonder how many heroes and villains have worn the symbiote suit? Most fans tend to think of Peter Parker, Eddie Brock, and Cletus Kasady, but there are many more people who get down with the sickness. The heroes and villains here have been hosts to our favorite slimy creatures.

#15: X-23 (Laura Kinney)

Laura made an incredible debut to casual fans with Logan. Not that long after the film, in the comic books, she joined in a series that had the clone of Wolverine has donned the black alien suit. After trying to escape the facility for the fifth time, she accidentally punctures a container with the venom symbiote.

Along with her usual powers, she has fangs and razor-sharp nails given to her by her new found friend. She spends plenty of time in combat next to her father figure, Wolverine.

Out of every symbiote variant, X-23 is arguably my favorite. Not only does the black and yellow work for her suit, but she is absolutely horrifying. The claws coming out of her hands along with the pointed teeth that will rip your head right off are intimidating enough to make any baddie run away.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

#14: Scorpion (Mac Gargan)

 

After being recruited by Norman Osborn, Mac Gargan is hired to kidnap Aunt May to get at Peter Parker/Spider-Man. During the task of capturing Parker’s beloved aunt, Gargan runs into a recently freed Venom. With their common hatred towards the web-slinging hero, Gargan becomes the new host for Venom.

With Gargan’s initial lack of a moral compass and Venom’s hunger for flesh, he became a killing machine. Venom was in full control eating people left and right. Gargan was too afraid to really fight back against the overwhelmingly powerful creature. He would eventually be stopped and have the symbiote forcibly removed to return back into Scorpion.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

 

#13: Eugene “Flash” Thompson

Peter Parker’s high school bully becomes worse in adulthood once he meets the vicious symbiote. After enlisting in a program called Project: Rebirth 2.0. Flash becomes the new Venom. He is able to regrow his legs that he lost back when he was serving in the military and has plenty of powers.

Known as Agent Venom, he has plenty of powers and tools to take down anyone in his way. Outside of the typical superpowers such as healing, strength, and durability, Thompon can utilize shapeshifting for stealth, morph with technology, and stole missile launchers and armor from the Beetle.

Out of every variation of Venom, the militarized version with Agent Venom is one of the most unique variants ever created. Thompson’s Venom look is a lot less nightmare-inducing compared to other symbiote suits we have seen.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

#12: Scarlet Spider (Ben Reilly)

Venom taking over a new host is pretty horrific, but to make things worse is if it is Carnage. In Web of Carnage, Ben Reilly, a clone of Peter Parker, becomes the newest host for the evil symbiote. If you know anything about the Clone Saga then you know things get bizarre with Ben Reilly.

His powers are the same basics from Spider-Man with a mix of Carnage’s. The ability to transform his body into deadly weapons such as knives and axes, Spider-Carnage can web you up then hack you into pieces. He can disguise himself by morphing into his old suit.

 

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Image via Fox

#11: Venom 2099 (Kron Stone)

Miguel O’Hara’s (Spider-Man 2099) half-brother Kron is quite the evil family member. His first appearance involved killing Punisher 2099’s family, so you get a good idea where his moral code stands. Frank Castle stabs Kron and leaves him to die in a sewer. The same sewer happens to have Venom waiting for a host. Kron gains Venom’s powers along with an acidic touch and liquid body.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

 

#10: Punisher (Frank Castle)

In the What If? series, we get to see some rather interesting scenarios, one of which involves Frank Castle becoming Venom. You don’t want an angry man with the murder of his family on his mind being fused together with a bloodthirsty alien to come after you. Spoiler, you will die.

With a gliding wing for flight, Venom’s powers, and Punisher’s skills with guns, he becomes a deadly force. The main weakness is their motives are quite different. Venom’s feelings about Spider-Man don’t meet Castle’s.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

#9: Rocket Racoon

 

 

The awesome blend between the vicious Venom and the snarky Rocket Racoon from the Guardians of the Galaxy makes for a surprise that is hard to think of, especially with Rocket’s claim to fame in the MCU. He would become a bounty hunter set to kill Captain America then summoned into another reality. In the new world Rocket finds himself, he joins the Resistance of Venoms to fight a group called The Hive.

His weapons are the same as the other symbiote hybrids with the addition of a new way to carry weapons. His vast arsenal is stored within himself where the symbiote carries all of his gadgets and guns, ready to kill any enemies who appear.

Venom makes everyone look better, and Rocket is no exception. A raccoon with the black and white Venom aesthetic makes Rocket look like he has been infected with rabies.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

#8: Groot

Yes, another member of the Guardians of the Galaxy has been taken over as a host for Venom. The loveable talking tree looks like an abomination that will haunt you for weeks. Before you ask, yes he says, “I am Venom.”

After extinguishing a threat from the symbiote’s home planet, the Guardians of the Galaxy keep a jar filled with the black goo that is the iconic creature. Groot clumsily breaks the container and becomes fused together with Venom.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

#7: Drax the Destroyer

The final Guardian of the Galaxy to be infected is Drax. I know a lot of these characters look horrifying, but Drax needs to be mentioned by his horrific new look. The already big member gets far larger as he turns into his symbiote form.

When trying to stop Venomized Rocket is causing havoc. Drax has a plan to grab Rocket, but Quil orders him to not touch their friend. Drax goes for it anyways which has the symbiote slide right off of Rocket into a new host.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

#6: Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers)

While many now know Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel with her big screen debut next year, she was previously known as Ms. Marvel. Captain Marvel/Ms. Marvel has a whole history for another day to discuss.

She-Venom, Carol Danvers’ symbiote alter ego is one of the better female venoms. Many of the characters tend to be more sexualized in some aspects. Just like the men, Carol ends up turning into a nightmarish monster, that is true equality right there.

Norman Osborn leads a battle into Asgard, in which Mac Gargan’s Venom appeared. Spidey, as always, ends up fighting Venom. Marvel comes into to the rescue but ends up being the new host for the symbiote. Having one of the most powerful heroes in Marvel Comics mixed with any symbiote will cause some serious harm.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

#5: Thor

One of the most powerful versions of Venom is when he takes over Thor. Symbiotes range in strength depending on their hosts. The powers of the symbiote and the host combine into one powerful foe. Mixing together with a God will make things nearly impossible. After nearly wiping out Earth, Venomized Thor is taken down by a sonic weapon.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

#4: The Inklings

This entry technically consists of multiple Venomized characters, the group is special in their own way to be under one category.

When Lee Price donned the black suit to become Maniac, he gained some unique abilities, unlike most symbiotes we see. He could spit at anyone which would infect them with an extended symbiote. Under the power of the symbiote, Price could mind control people who have been spat on. The powerful group he had taken over consist of Black Cat, Scorpion, Hammerhead, Looter, 8-Ball, Killer Shrike, The Brothers Grimm, and the Melter.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

#3: Red Hulk

Hell has been brought to Earth by Blackheart, literal hell on Earth. The Circle of Four, Red Hulk, Flash Thompson AKA Agent Venom, X-23, and Ghost Rider must defeat the incredibly powerful villain. The only way meant that Red Hulk becomes Venom. Alejandro (Ghost Rider) temporarily gives her powers to Red Hulk. Yeah, we have a Venom-Red Hulk-Ghost Rider combination, you cannot get more badass.

Arguably the best looking Venom hybrid ever created. A fiery demon that looks like it came from hell, but no, it is just Red Hulk fused with Venom and given the power of Ghost Rider. Comics get really crazy, now Marvel should step it up in the next phase of the MCU.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

#2: Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacey)

Gwen Stacey is either Peter Parker’s first love who dies or the Gwen who becomes Spider-Gwen after being bit by a radioactive spider. I don’t need to say which is more interesting. Since she dons a spider suit, she eventually becomes Venom. Of course, you did that Marvel.

 

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

#1: Deadpool (Wade Wilson)

While the movies portray Deadpool as a bit of a psychopath while showing he has some humanity deep down. He is far crazier in the comics, so when he gets infused with Venom, that is not a good mixture at all.

Some iterations have Venom using Deadpool as a host, while other times he gets mixed with multiple symbiotes. A storyline involves Deadpool facing Carnage. During the conflict, Deadpool gets used as a host for Lasher and Agony. Thus giving Deadpool his regenerative powers along with the abilities from Agony and Lasher. Agony grants acidic chemicals along with Spidey powers. Lasher is focused on lashing foes with whips, very creative of Marvel to name him Lasher.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

Trust me, there are plenty more symbiote versions of your favorite heroes and villains out in the world of comics. Many of which are not canon and some that are not comic books can get mind-numbingly complicated. Most of the wackiest of crossovers came from Venomverse and What If? series. Consume those stories to gather all of the crazy different hosts for Venom and the other symbiotes.

What have been some of your favorites on this list? Out of the many characters I did not touch on, who are some of your favorite Venomized characters?

All images via Marvel Comics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie Review: Venom

My expectations could not be set any lower for Venom. With some bad trailers, my impressions of what I was seeing was not good. I managed to get to see Tom Hardy’s take on the iconic character last night, and I was surprised for good and bad reasons.

We see Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) a journalist who tackles crooked powerful men and brings them down by shining light on their schemes. After trying to ask hard questions towards Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) his career and life go downhill in attempting to take down one of the most influential people in San Fransisco. After trying to get evidence on Drake’s company, the Life Foundation, he gets infected with one of the symbiotes captured by Life. Drake sends man after man to apprehend the creature, and Eddie Brock goes from journalist to the anti-hero Venom.

The pacing is so weird for the first 30 minutes or more. The first 10 to 20 is bizarrely too quick seeing the negative changes in Eddie’s life, but I had no time to see development in his character to care about him. Not until the end of the film I actually could care for him and his new friend. Then we get into a slow crawl of him getting drunk and being an absolute mess. Once he gets infected with Venom, then the film picks up to an entertaining ride.

The tone is all over the place. Elements of horror, superhero action flick, drama, comedy, and just about anything you can think of is thrown into the mix. The horror aspects would have worked if Sony decided to keep the R rating, and overall help the movie’s quality. While many of the creepy moments work, there was always something missing. The drama of what Eddie was going through was too quick but overall kept some powerful moments. The typical superhero and comic book features went well and felt like an actual Marvel movie despite many moments of inconsistency. The humor felt off. While there were two or three genuinely funny scenes, a lot of it felt confusing. I was unsure if they were trying to be serious in some scenes or just goofy.

The writing is just as inconsistent as the tone. Some lines are at a cringe level of terrible to handle that breaks my suspension of disbelief. Characters have lines that are sometimes painfully bad. Sometimes I question if it is the acting or merely lousy dialog that cannot be said properly. The acting was well done despite some painful dialog that had to be delivered. Tom Hardy carries the film on his back. While Eddie had some flaws as a character that was annoying, his relationship between Anne and Venom were the highlights in the story. Seeing his chemistry with these two allies made up for some somewhat problematic storytelling. The development of his relationship with Venom was beyond my expectations and was the best part of the movie. Riz Ahmed had quite the generic antagonist, but his performance made up for the lackluster character. Michelle Williams played Anne, Brock’s love interest, who was excellent despite lacking in much development of her character earlier in the film. The powers of the symbiotes felt unpredictable. At times how the symbiotes take over people or animals and how that creature reacts with its host felt wrong at times. Seeing people or animals take in the symbiote with no problem or some with deadly consequences. The film explains it rationally, but I could not buy some of what they were selling to me.

The action was not as much as I had hoped, but when we got some fighting or chases, it was worth the wait. One of my favorite car chase scenes in years is seen right here. I was surprised by how well the choreography was executed. The action would not pop up for a brief moment then back to slow storytelling, we got a good lengthy car chase along with plenty of other fight scenes across the film. The only problem with the action is Venom would eat people and have other brutal ways of killing people, but with the PG-13 rating, I felt cheated out of some good old fashion blood and guts. If we ever get an R rated cut, the original cut, then I will rewatch the movie in a heartbeat.

The quality of the visual effects was out of control. Practical effects looked fine, nothing extraordinary, but worked with the film. Venom and the main villain Riot looked unrealistic. While I understand these are hard characters to make right with CGI, but the technology is there to make realistic looking characters. I could not unsee a CGI character instead of having some suspension of disbelief to see a real life creature. Other moments in the film sometimes look like the team needed some more time to touch up some of the special effects.

Ruben Fleischer’s Venom has a great movie inside somewhere but has some quite terrible writing and pacing issues along with bad CGI. Jeff Pinker and Scott Rosenberg might not have been right for the job or maybe needed some extra time. Some of these issues will never be known since the film shot vs. the film delivered are entirely different. Who knows how much better the anti-hero movie would have been with an R rating? I know the action would benefit, but the story and characters? That will remain a mystery. The best way to describe Venom is that it feels like an early 2000s superhero movie by its messy tone, bad special effects, and an overall entertaining film that is not remotely good.

Score: 5/10

Image via Sony Pictures

 

Trailer Impressions: Vice

The Dick Cheney biopic just launched the first trailer. Christian Bale has transformed himself yet again to get into the proper mindset for his role. Our of every dramatic move the actor has made, this might be his most extreme since The Machinist.

A conversation over some wings and beer between Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) and George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell) about George wanting Dick to be his vice president. Cheney explains his career as a CEO and into politics. The conversation takes a turn as Cheney offers to take up more duties than vice presidents would generally take on.

Cheney’s influence on the Bush administration is the premise for the film. Telling the story about what happened behind the scenes that many people may not know. At least that is what they claim, you never know with biopics, especially the political ones.

As Cheney explains his career from being a CEO to the secretary of defense and chief of staff, various images showcase his experience with these careers. Meetings, rallies, paperwork, all that you would be doing in that line of work.

We get a look at what Cheney wants out of Bush as he explains what he can do for the upcoming president. Shaking hands with various politicians at what looks to be a rally. Military troops patroling as he insinuates how he could take care of that aspect of Bush’s job. Cheney is seen walking with a Middle Eastern man alongside what looks to be bodyguards.

A variety of quick shots show other cast members such as Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney and Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld. Some of these shots show a younger looking Dick Cheney having a drink with Rumsfeld. Another scene shows Lynne offering Dick advice about people using him when he obtains his power. It appears we will get either a timeline jump between different periods of Dick’s life or see the events in chronological order, it is difficult to tell. Either way, we will see the cast’s age change over the course of this story. Scenes fly by of politicians meeting and military troops fighting in the Middle East.

I am skeptical due to the nature of the film’s theme and story. However, Adam McKay did direct and write The Big Short, which was brilliant. Hopefully, he can maintain the level of intelligence and objectivity when telling Dick Cheney’s story. I will say, it is hard to resist a movie with this impressive of a cast. Steve Carell is not someone I enjoy in comedies, but his dramatic performances are compelling enough to change your perception of who he is as an actor. Amy Adams has done plenty of stellar work such as Arrival. Sam Rockwell is on top of his game after Three Billboards Outside Ebbington, Missouri. Of course, the legendary Christian Bale does it again with a transformation that has blown my mind. He is unrecognizable and his looks will not be the only thing to carry his role. Bale’s performances are always fantastic, especially when he dives into the life of someone real just like he did when portraying Michael Burry in The Big Short. With an outstanding cast and McKay to take the reins, I have hope that Vice will be a solid biopic.

Vice comes out Christmas of this year. You can watch the trailer below:

Image via Annapurna Pictures