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Director: Andy Serkis Starring: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Stephen Graham, Reid Scott Running Time: 97  minutes


 

The experience of watching the original Venom was an exercise in realising that its chaotic energy, slapdash editing, nonsensical plot and over the top (of the lobster tank) performance by Tom Hardy, all of the things that would in theory make it Not Good, in fact made the film a breath of fresh air. Venom, the Xtreme muscle-bound badass who kills and calls people turds in the wind while he does it, may be a relic of the 90s, but improbably his film and Hardy’s go-hard acting successfully revisited the factors that made that kind of character popular in the first place, and at a stage of superhero films where even the gun-wielding raccoons are looking mournfully into the middle distance and feeling the toll of being a Hero, it’s fun and freeing to watch a comic book character that’s pure Id unleashed. Let There Be Carnage embraces and expands on the previous film’s reception. A wild, weird ride, this sequel is nothing less than a full on, fully sincere coming-out party for the symbiote.

 

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Director: Destin Daniel Cretton Starring: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Leung, Michelle Yeoh, Fala Chen, Meng’er Zhang Running Time: 132 minutes


As the Marvel Cinematic Universe grows and branches out and builds ever more enormous, into television, into another Phase, into so many movies at this point that even diehards might have trouble counting, the balance between variety and formula becomes ever more precarious. Marvel want to give you something new, just not too new, and this can even be seen in the genres of their movies. Honestly Marvel is becoming more of a genre unto itself in audience minds as the years go by, which suits Feige, Disney and co – so Black Widow is a spy movie, until it isn’t, and now Shang-Chi similarly offers the variety of a big budget, live action blockbuster martial arts movie – except every time it really threatens to shift into that gear, it parks itself with a hard jerk back into Marvel mode. And while that has its moments too, they’re not always two great tastes that work great together in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

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Director: Cate Shortland Starring: Scarlett Johannsson, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, Ray Winstone Running Time: 134 minutes


 

It has been a long auld road to a solo adventure for Natasha Romanoff, who’s had movies in development on and off since long before the MCU was even a dollar-sign shaped twinkle in Kevin Feige’s eye. In-universe and out, a lot has changed for Black Widow over the years, arguably including the peak of fan demand for a movie solely devoted to the super spy’s exploits.


Which isn’t to say that Black Widow, finally in cinemas and on Disney + this month after a Covid-related postponement, is a too-late endeavour. Timing is a funny thing, and if anything the movie stands as a familiar settling back in for fans to movie-sized Marvel after a year off and an intro to what the various Disney+ series have to offer. For non diehards too, it offers a fun, by-the-numbers blockbuster, confidently comfortable big screen fare; in other words, a Marvel movie. 

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Directors: Anthony & Joe Russo Starring: The Avengers Running Time: 181 minutes


What follows below is a quick-and-clean, spoiler-free review of Avengers: Endgame. If and after you’ve seen the film and want something with more depth and detail to continue the discussion, we’ll be back next week with a second look, which you can read at your own risk.

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Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, John Mulaney, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber Running Time: 117 minutes


The suggestion that we have hit a saturation point with superhero movies has become an increasingly pointless gesture in film criticism. One might as well say that Hollywood has hit a saturation point with making money, and the idea has always carried a degree of ignorance, or arrogance; a dismissive view of a form of storytelling whose domination of the comic book medium is closer to reaching a century than a saturation. The people are here for superhero movies, and the future for the genre isn’t to die out but to make sure they speak to all the people; growing and changing and embracing the vast potential of the medium to show superheroes, their powers and their capacity for good in exciting new ways. Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse does all this and more, with a confidence, enthusiasm and joy, all of which put it firmly in the conversation for best superhero movie of the year.

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Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo Starring: Everybody. Running Time: 149 minutes


Ten years ago now, there was an idea. To bring together a group of remarkable characters and see if they could become something more. There was a time, unbelievable as it is now, that having a ‘shared universe’ of various franchises seemed like a massive risk rather than the movie studio holy grail. A time when people wondered how the first Avengers film was possibly going to manage a story with six superheroes. Infinity War has twenty. Plus sidekicks and supporting cast members, absentee Avengers, love interests, a few surprise appearances, the army of an entire country, and a new mass of villains. And Stan Lee. The Universe has grown and grown, developing an enormous, enamoured audience along with it. Marvel know they have most every blockbuster-loving film fan in the palm of their hands at this point, so to keep them captivated, what’s the best thing they can do at this point? Make a fist. Or snap their fingers.

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Once a year, Dublin’s Cineworld showcases its centrepiece: its IMAX theater, with the ‘IMAX Film Festival‘. The selection of blockbusters, well suited to the biggest of big screens, is coming back this March, offering films fans the chance to see some popular blockbusters of the past year once again.

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Director: Ryan Coogler  Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker  Running Time: 134 minutes


Get ready to fall in love with Wakanda – the fictional African nation of the Marvel Universe, a hidden technological utopia that serves as the backdrop for much of Black Panther. While not technically alive, it is perhaps the films single biggest star. Wakanda, as presented on screen, is a fully realized and lived-in world, with a sense of awe and wonder waiting around every corner. It is a place whose cultural significance is undeniable – expertly crafted and wonderfully depicted through every costume, character, and setting; a place that helps Black Panther look and feel completely fresh.

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Director: Taika Waititi Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thomson, Jeff Goldblum, Mark Ruffalo, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins, Karl Urban  Running Time: 130 minutes


Thor: Ragnarok is fine. This might seem like a needlessly dismissive hot take on a movie that has been popular with critics and a hit at the Irish box office (the film was responsible for over 46% of the Irish 3-day weekend box office), but given the considerable talent involved in the film, both on screen and in the director’s chair, is it spoiled to come out of Marvel’s latest blockbuster? Let’s not be too much of a curmudgeon about this; Ragnarok is a frequently very funny film, one that meets the expectations of its audience, set firmly from that “he’s a friend from work!” trailer, more or less exactly. It is another Marvel movie, and much like pizza, even when they’re not amazing they’re still pretty good. It is what it is. It just could have been more than that.

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