Venom (Tom Hardy) in the Venom film, directed by Ruben Fleischer.

Venom Is a Messy Web

Sony’s Venom can best be described as an exemplification of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The superhero genre is simultaneously at the peak of its powers with a whopping 10 films set to be released in 2019, yet for many, the genre has become hackneyed and contrite, offering predictable and contrived storylines that do not take risks. Everything about Venom, from its comic-accurate presentation of its titular character, the Lovecraft-ian horror influences, to its mocking tagline (“The world has enough superheroes”) demonstrated to viewers that it wanted to be more Logan than Guardians of the Galaxy: a thought-provoking genre film that set out to do more than merely entertain. And while the world may have enough superheroes, Venom only augments that argument by its existence rather than subverting it with what it could offer. To its credit, this debut film of Spider-Man’s cannibalistic and violent arch nemesis (note: the wall-crawler himself is nowhere to be found in this flick) lives up to its name: it is not the “cure” that it so clearly poised itself as to the banality of current superhero films but instead the very poison that made readers want to settle for the present state of the genre. Sadly, despite the richness of the character’s backstory in the comics, the film tries so hard to convince its viewers and itself that it is not a superhero movie that it ends up not really being much of a movie at all.

Courtesy of A24

The Best, Worst and Most Surprising Movies of the Summer

1) What was the best movie you saw this summer? Lev Akabas: My second viewing of Avengers: Infinity War. Seriously, that movie is still the topic of a good chunk of my film-related conversations nearly three months after its release, and there’s rarely a dull moment in it, even on the rewatch. If I had to pick a favorite from the summer, though, it would be Bo Burnham’s wholesome Eighth Grade, which manages to depict how Generation Z adolescents hide behind their social media personalities without portraying its subjects judgmentally. Ashley Davila: While marketing for many action movies uses the term “epic” to describe every stunt and globe trotting adventure, few movies are deserving of the descriptor.

Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

Ant-Man and the Wasp Aims Small but Hits Big

In superhero movies, saving the world has become the equivalent of drinking cough syrup: excruciating, repetitive, ultimately necessary and, dare I say, boring? On one hand, there is no better way to raise stakes or unify disparate groups of people; when the fate of the world is at risk, even major ideological differences can be pushed aside for the sake of ensuring survival. But if this trope is repeated too many times, that sense of urgency can quickly give way to leisure. When the stakes are repeatedly raised, the risks feel disingenuine and deceitful, because the on-screen peace and/or carnage we know will ultimately be reversed in the future. Peyton Reed was surely aware this fatigue as he directed the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s third film of 2018, Ant-Man and the Wasp.