VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE
Originally introduced in a Marvel Comics “Spider-Man” feature, Venom, the giant Spider-like, spiky-toothed superhero inhabits the body of investigative reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) in this sequel to “Venom” (2018).
In the original film, Brock lost his job and his fiancé Annie Weyring (Michelle Williams) when he morphed into his alter ego, the creepy “black thing” known as Venom.
In the new film directed by Andy Serkis, Brock as Venom comes up against the monstrous red-tentacled supervillain Carnage, who springs from psychotic serial killer Cletus Kasidy (Woody Harrelson).
When mad lovers Kasidy and Frances Barrison/Shriek (Naomie Harris) are reunited, they use their special talents to destroy any pesky humans (and their eardrums).
Although now engaged to Dr. Don Lewis (Reid Scott), Weyring shows up when Eddie needs her. Without seeing the first movie, it might be difficult to follow the concept of the protagonist acting as a host body for a monster.
Hardy, who cowrote the story, is intriguing and sometimes comical as the guy with a beast emerging from different parts of his anatomy.
Most of the film pits Venom versus Carnage in those trademark Marvel Comics seemingly never ending battles.
2 and 1/2 Stars
THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK
(Theaters and HBO Max)
It’s time for more blood and red sauce.
David Chase’s prequel to “The Sopranos” is set during the 1960s and 70s in Newark, New Jersey. The compelling DiMeo crime family saga introduces young Tony Soprano (preteen Tony William Ludwig, teenage Tony-Michael Galdofini), a smart kid who idolizes his handsome Uncle Richard “Dickie” Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola).
Even for those who are familiar with the casual brutality of “The Sopranos,” the sudden bursts of anger culminating in maiming or death remain shocking. Especially off-putting are the mob guys’ misogyny and racism. When a Black family moved into the neighborhood while he was in prison, Tony’s dad, Giovanni “Johnny Boy” Soprano (Jon Bernthall) directs his rage (and fists) at his wife, Livia (Vera Farmiga).
As the crimes (numbers running, robbery, murder, heroin dealing, etc.) mount, Tony observes the family dynamics.
Gandolfini shines in the role originated by his father. Other stand-outs include Ray Liotta in a dual role as Dickie’s powerful father, Aldo “Hollywood Dick” Moltisanti. who brings his new wife (Michala DeRossi) home from Italy, and as Dickie’s uncle and his father’s twin Sal “Sally” Moltisanti.
FALLING FOR FIGARO
Ben Lewin directs this delightful comedy starring versatile Aussie actress Danielle Macdonald who portrays an American living in England.
When she gets promoted at her fund manager job in London, Millie Cantwell (Macdonald) decides to quit and follow her dream of becoming an opera star.
She travels to the Scottish Highlands to study with former diva, Meghan Geoffrey Bishop (Joanna Lumley, as always a formidable presence).
Also in the tiny Scottish town, which is populated with quirky types, another would-be opera star, Max Thistlewaite (Hugh Skinner) also studies with the tyrannical vocal coach. Both Millie and Max decide to try out for the TV competition program, “Singer of Renown” in London.
Entertaining and full of glorious voices, the witty feature serves as a palate cleanser for the mostly mayhem and violence-heavy big screen releases.
Alice Reese is a member of the Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics Association. She reviews movies, arts and entertainment for the Herald-Banner and for KETR.