Simple Review: We had fun with this movie. (WE?)
With the unstoppable popularity of superhero movies, studios are starting to reach deep into the bag of characters to come up with the next big franchise. Some hit like Deadpool, while others miss, looking at you Suicide Squad but the search continues. This week we are sent the next attempt to hit gold with the film Venom. A rare October superhero movie release, I am sure this will be a polarizing film amongst the fan base. So close your eyes, let that symbiote climb all over you and let’s let our inner bad guy out to run his gooey tongue all over the review of Venom. ( Kinda dirty, huh?)
Before we begin I have to confess something to you, my reliable reader, I am not entirely familiar with Venom as a character. I know the absolute basics, those being he came from outer space, finds Eddie Brock to possess and fights Spider-Man. I can hear your eyes rolling into the back of your heads, comic book aficionados, and I understand but give me credit for being honest. On the plus side, my comic book ignorance allows me to judge the film as just that: a film. I went into Venom without much expectation, only curious to see what Tom Hardy could do in another comic book movie. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised! While not a great movie, it was still a fun movie to enjoy while sitting in an air-conditioned building on this unusually hot October day. At my age, there is very little I need to enjoy the day. I am a simple man.
Venom tells the tale of Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), an internet reporter, that crosses paths with an evil scientist Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) and their encounter leads to Eddie losing his job and fiancé Anne Weying (Michelle Williams). As Eddie hits rock bottom, he is “found” by the symbiote Venom, a powerful alien with an unquenchable appetite, and comic book movie chaos ensues. If you are looking for an award-winning plot, you have come to the wrong place. Venom isn’t exactly breaking new ground in the genre, but it does have fun with the relationship between Eddie and Venom. The best moments of the film are Eddie trying to keep his sanity when dealing with his new bestie. When Eddie finally gets infected, the movie finds its groove. Tom Hardy is at his best when he is basically acting with himself, that’s just how good he is! I like Tom as an actor ( A bold statement, I know) because of his ability to convey an emotion with just a look or expression on his face. This serves him well as he conveys the pain caused by sharing the same body with an alien bent on destruction, and the pain caused by losing the love of his life. There are moments where I felt for Eddie which made his peril more thrilling because I actually cared about him more than just wanting to simply watch CGI Venom tear s@#t up.
Director Ruben Fleischer, of Zombieland fame, does a decent job with his first superhero outing. Once Eddie and Venom meet, the action picks up as well as the humor. Yes, there are some funny moments throughout the movie, especially, as I stated before, between Eddie and Venom. The action pieces are mostly fun, with one exception, and Venom does get to cross lines that other superhero characters cannot. Most superheroes aren’t biting peoples heads off, though it would be fun to see Captain America employing this as a new combat move. The special effects are a mixed bag, but when they are good Venom is a very intimidating character to watch. This movie does have moments that get close to a horror movie feel, which I dug. Aliens infecting people to devour a world’s population should have some scary moments in it to remind us of what’s at stake for Eddie.
Shall we throw some kryptonite at this superhero to bring him down a notch or two? I agree, so let’s get to it! The first part of this movie drags on for what feels like an hour. I understand setting up Eddie’s character but it is done in such a generic and bland way that I almost fell asleep. The writers beat us over the head with what a screw-up Eddie is and how he ruins everything he touches and blah, blah, blah. The film doesn’t give you, the viewer, credit to figure this out through seeing his life, everyone has to say what a loser he is a thousand times so you get the point. All they needed to show me was a guy living alone eating tater tots and I would be able to relate, as that is my typical Friday night!
Outside of Tom, the rest of the cast is wasted. Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed are both excellent actors, and they do a good job with what they have to work with here, but it isn’t much. Riz is the same evil rich science guy you have seen in many of these movies. It seems such a waste to have an actor with his talent reduced to playing a one-note character that anyone that has been in a school play could have portrayed. Give him something to work with, writers!! Speaking of having nothing to work with, Michelle Williams is basically there to give Tom a ride in her car, bring the symbiote back to him and, miraculously, work a piece of equipment she has never seen to save Eddie/Venoms’ life in their big final fight with the bad guy. I actually felt sorry for her in this role, she is too good to be in this.
I mentioned the CGI earlier, and when it misses it is a mess, with Venom looking more like a cartoon character than an actual living creature. And the CGI team loved making him lick things, those perverted nerds. The final fight between Venom and Riot reminded me of the fights in the Transformers movies, I couldn’t tell which character was which. ( Except for the really cool shot of the symbiotes coming of Eddie and Carlton as they fight, kudos for that shot). The rest of my criticism falls into my favorite category, Hollywood-isms. Characters get their brains beat in but in the next scene they are up and chasing Eddie again. Drones are able to follow people, even though they should have no logical way of knowing where they would be. People do the same thing in this movie, they all know right where someone is at exactly the right moment to save them. I guess we wouldn’t have a movie if they showed up at 201 Mian St when they were supposed to be at 210 Main St. Oh, and this movie LOVES San Francisco to the point I thought I was watching a tourism ad on TV.
To end this stream of consciousness, while I wish the filmmakers would have pushed this film a little further into the darkness it tiptoed around, I had fun watching it and would recommend it as long as you can make it to Eddie and Venoms hook up. ( This review has a naughty current running through it, don’t you think?) No, Venom isn’t a groundbreaking entry into the superhero genre, but it has an excellent performance from its main star and is an entertaining ride on the darker side. I’d Love to see him make an appearance in a Spider-Man movie, though I know the odds are not great on that one.
Ok comic book nerds, let me know what I missed about this one by commenting and voicing your opinion. I do welcome being educated on the finer points of these characters and hope you respond. To everyone that reads this please like, comment and follow my little ray of sunshine!
As always, thanks for your time.
The Movie Psycho