Friday, February 22, 2019

My Venomous 48 Hours

I've been watching a lot of Venom lately.

Cineplex, Google Play and other digital movie rental platforms have the same rule: when you pay for a movie, you have 30 days to watch it. When you press "PLAY" (with an accompanying "GO BACK" option reminding you how serious watching the movie is), you have 48 hours to watch the movie. In the olden days of movie rentals being normal, one would simply rent a movie, watch it, and then return it. In the Netflix era, in which everyone assumes we can watch as many movies as we want whenever we want, a rented movie suddenly becomes a precious commodity.

I'm a Tom Hardy fan. Venom is my favourite Marvel character. You can see where this is going.

Unfortunately, I missed Venom in theatres back in October. I'd wanted to watch it ever since I saw the trailer, though, and it's unlikely to ever be on Netflix at this point. I rented it, the first time I've rented a movie digitally. Renting movies was always a VHS from Blockbuster experience, so this was new. It was more expensive than the free Netflix experience, and less going-on-a-night-out-like than going to the theatre. It felt strange, but it's Venom, so I did it.

One watch: $5.00 per watch
Two watches: $2.50 per watch
Three watches: $1.67 per watch
Four watches: $1.25 per watch
... and so on, up to a hypothetical 32 watches. (It's mathematically impossible to watch a 90-minute movie more than 32 times in a 48-hour span.)

This is the first time I've ever felt incentivized to watch a movie as many times as possible in a row. I usually watch a movie only once, even my favourites.

After watching Venom thrice (it's all I could manage), I noticed:
  • It's a good movie. It's unfaithful to the comics, most notably missing the iconic church scene, but the golden rule of consuming media applies: appreciate works for what they are, not what you want them to be. Venom does a good job of being an action movie.
  • The screenwriting is weak, occasionally resorting to hackneyed phrases, but the acting is great. Hardy, Michelle Williams and the others carry the movie.
  • There's no Spider-Man or Carnage. Unconstrained from his fellow heroes, Venom gets to shine alone. It works.
  • Tom Hardy wears a "THE CITY" T-shirt early in the movie. What would a movie set in San Francisco be without a Warriors reference?
  • On the second and especially third views, I saw things I'd missed before. I got to know this movie on a level I don't think I have with any other movie.


(from IndieWire)

Only when you miss a movie in theatres, and then are prevented for watching it on a subscription service due to a contract dispute, does a movie rental happen in 2019. Now, instead of renting and watching a movie, it's a bizarre contest to see how many times you can watch the same action movie in a 48-hour span.

My rental expires in half an hour. I'm almost finished my third watching. Suffice to say, I know my Venom.

There'll be more.

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