Archive for March, 2022

MORBIUS: 2 STARS. “Morbius sucks… more than just blood.”

Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

In “Morbius,” a new shared universe of films inspired by Spider-Man characters, and now playing in theatres, Jared Leto plays a doctor who takes the old phrase, “Physician, heal thyself,” a little too far.

Jared Leto is Dr. Michael Morbius, Nobel Prize-worthy biologist with a medical degree in hematology. His field of work is personal to him. Since childhood he and his best friend Milo (a preening Matt Smith) have battled a rare blood disease that drains him of his energy. As an adult Michael searches for a cure.

“I should have died years ago,” he says. “Why am I still here if not to fix this?”

He devises a cure, but it is it a cure or a curse? He will live, and maybe even thrive, but his life will be forever changed.

“I went from dying to being more alive than ever,” he says after going “batty.”

The cure has transforms him into a transgenic vampire, a being with superhuman strength and speed, heightened senses, accelerated healing “and some form of bat radar,” but none of the usual weaknesses associated with vampires. Bring on the garlic and crosses. But, like traditional vampires, he now must drink blood to survive.

“I have powers that can only be described as superhuman,” he says. “But there’s a cost. Now I face a choice, to hunt and consume blood or die.”

He chooses life, but his tolerance for artificial blood is lowering and soon he’ll have to break everything he believes in and drink real human blood, a choice he loathes.

Milo, on the other hand, chooses a darker path, pitting friend against friend. “All our lives we’ve lived with death hanging over us,” Milo says. “Why shouldn’t we enjoy life for a change.”

It can only be said one way. “Morbius” sucks… more than just blood. Likely undone by a PG-13 rating that must have shaved off some of, what could have been, effective horror elements, it’s a defanged vampire movie with no bite.

A generic story and dated special effects—the bullet time gag was fresh when we first saw it in “The Matrix,” but that was then and this is now—and the whole turgid affair culminates in a murky CGI climax that is visually hard to follow. You know where this story is headed, you just can’t tell what, exactly, is happening on screen.

Leto is the above-the-title star, but his bland work is over-shadowed by Smith who at least seems to be having fun as the bloodthirsty Milo.

There are two after credit scenes in “Moribus” that promise more stories with the batty doctor, but the franchise needs a serious transfusion before continuing the story.

EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE: 4 STARS. “most aptly titled movie of the year.”

Marvel has familiarized fans with the concept of the multiverse, a metaphysical theory that sees a collection of parallel universes with alternate realities collide with our own. Marvel superhero superstars Doctor Strange and Spider-Man have both tripped the light fantastic in recent films. Joining them on a cinematic full tilt boogie trip into other worlds is Michelle Yeoh, star of the full tilt boogie sci fi mindbender “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” now playing in theatres.

The action begins in a suburban Southern California laundromat run by Evelyn Wang (Yeoh) and husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). The couple have a meeting with the IRS and the situation is dire. “You may only see a pile of receipts,” says bureaucrat Dierdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis), “but I see a story. I can see where this story is going, and it does not look good.”

The meeting takes a weird twist when Waymond shoves Evelyn into a broom closet, sending her off to another dimension to battle an evil spirit called Jobu Tupaki, armed only with a Bluetooth headset.

“I’m not your husband,” he explains. I’m another version from another universe. I’m here because I need your help. Across the multiverse I’ve seen thousands of Evelyns. You can access all their memories, their emotions, even their skills. There’s a great evil spreading throughout the many verses. And you may be our only chance of stopping it.”

And away she goes, off on an adventure involving multiple Evelyns as a chef, a martial arts expert and movie star. As she verse-jumps, she must absorb the powers of all her alternate personalities and bring them back to the IRS offices.

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is the most aptly titled movie of the year. A frenetic assault on the senses, it is a wild and woolly adventure where the quirk factor is turned up to 11 and literally anything could happen. A universe where everyone has hotdogs for fingers? Check. A heartfelt conversation between two sentient rocks? Check. A bagel that contains the secrets of the universe? Check.

You can say a lot of things about “Everything Everywhere All At Once” but you can’t say you’ve ever seen anything quite like it before. An eye-popping reflection on the power of kindness and love to heal the world’s problems, it is simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting. The directors, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, known collectively as The Daniels, mix and match everything from family drama and tax problems to martial-arts and metaphysics into a whimsical story that moves at the speed of light. The result is a singular film that milks intentionality out of its madness.

NITRAM: 3 ½ STARS. “hammers home its indelible message of gun control.”

“Nitam,” a dramatization of the events leading up to the 1996 massacre at Port Arthur, Tasmania, that killed 35 people and wounded 23 others, mines the nihilism of its title character in an attempt to shed light on a senseless act.

In his telling of the story, Australian director Justin Kurzel has made a deeply unsettling film but not a violent one. He replaces the violence of the tragic real-life event with the uneasy trajectory of a killer in the making.

Known as Nitram—the movie never uses his real name—Caleb Landry Jones plays the title character as a twenty-something, impulsive, detached loner who lashes out at the slightest provocation. His mother (Judy Davis) is worn down after years of dealing with his antisocial and unpredictable behavior, but his father (Anthony LaPaglia) attempts to find a coping mechanism in compassion.

They are given a reprieve of sorts when wealthy recluse Helen (Essie Davis) hires him to cut her lawn and invites him to move in. She treats him kindly and becomes a stabilizing force in his life. When she passes away suddenly, followed by the death of his father weeks later, Nitam is cut loose with a large inheritance courtesy of Helen’s largess.

Nitram’s childhood fascination with fireworks translates into a love of firearms as an adult. In the film’s most chilling scene he purchases powerful automatic weapons from a gun shop owner only too happy to make a sale.

It is the first tangible step toward infamy.

The events of April 1996 are not portrayed in the film. In fact, there is very little violence on display. Instead, Kurzel has crafted a bleak but effective portrait of mundane evil. Jones embodies the character, playing him as a cypher with a deep well of rage. It isn’t a showy performance. It’s dark, hard to read and even harder to understand. Alienated, he is devoid of empathy or compassion, a ticking bomb ready to explode. It’s disturbing character work, so carefully rendered that, knowing how the story ends, will make your skin crawl.

There is little that is sensational or exploitive in “Nitram’s” storytelling but I had to wonder why a movie, even one that doesn’t name the killer by name, exists.

It’s one thing not to utter his name, it’s another to make a movie about a real-life man who became a monster, shattering dozens of families in the process. “Nitram” in no way glorifies him, but neither does it shed that much light on the hows and whys of his unspeakable acts. It is a well-made film that prefers to hammer home its indelible message of gun control but in its very existence provides an uncomfortable notoriety to someone best forgotten.

VERVETIMES.COM: 2022 Oscars: Here Are The Movies Expected To Win Big

From “Film critic Richard Crouse anticipates that the night’s most coveted statue will be presented to “CODA” for best picture. “CODA,” an acronym for child of deaf adult, is a coming-of-age comedy about a teenage girl named Ruby, the only hearing member of a deaf family in Massachusetts…” Read the whole thing HERE!

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