Well, no matter what the early ratings and reviews say, it can’t possibly be worse than SPIDER-MAN 3 (2007).
Though not a comic book fan, I have watched the Spider-Man cartoons, played the original game on the Playstation, and simply did a fair amount of research on the character himself, so I do have a passing level of knowledge regarding Venom and safely consider myself a casual fan. Like most people, I was absolutely furious with SPIDER-MAN 3’s representation of Venom, and if I think about it too much, I’m still mad about it. But with that said, the announcement of this movie was a pretty exciting thing. Stamping Tom Hardy into the mix, dude, you had me at hello. Then the teaser came out… and it was a meh. The second trailer came out and I was pumped. Then the third trailer came out and I was… mixed. On the one hand, Venom looked amazing. Exactly how he should look in a live-action movie. But the jokes were terrible. Like… awful. Then suddenly, I didn’t know what to feel. I might be thinking that the early ratings and reviews might hold more water than I think. Which seriously bums me out, but… I don’t know, we’ll see.
The story looks like it’s about a corporation that got its hands on an alien species and one of them attaches itself to a reporter and goes on a rampage across the city while fighting its own kind.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Tom Hardy (DUNKIRK  and MAD MAX: FURY ROAD ), Riz Ahmed (THE SISTERS BROTHERS  and STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE ), Michelle Williams (I FEEL PRETTY , WONDERSTRUCK , and MANCHESTER BY THE SEA ), Jenny Slate (HOTEL ARTEMIS , GIFTED , SECRET LIFE OF PETS , and upcoming films THE ARK AND THE AARDVARK  and THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 ), and Woody Harrelson (STAR WARS: SOLO , WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES , EDGE OF SEVENTEEN , HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY 2 , ZOMBIELAND , and the upcoming ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Ruben Fleischer, known for ZOMBIELAND, and the upcoming ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP. Making for a red flag total of four writers, we have Scott Rosenberg (JUMANJI 2 , and the upcoming Jumanji 3 ), Jeff Pinkner (JUMANJI 2, 5TH WAVE , and the upcoming Jumanji 3), Kelly Marcel (FIFTY SHADES OF GREY  and SAVING MR. BANKS ), and Will Beall (5 episodes of CASTLE [2009 – 2016], and the upcoming AQUAMAN ). Composing the score is Ludwig Göransson, known for DEATH WISH (2018), EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING (2017), CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE (2016), CREED (2015), and the upcoming CREED II (2018). The cinematographer is Matthew Libatique, known for A STAR IS BORN (2018), MOTHER! (2017), MONEY MONSTER (2016), STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (2015), IRON MAN 2 (2010), IRON MAN (2008), and the upcoming NATIVE SON (2019). Finally, co-editing are Alan Baumgarten (CLOVERFIELD 3 , MOLLY’S GAME , JOY , and ZOMBIELAND) and Maryann Brandon (DARKEST MINDS , PASSENGERS , STAR WARS: FORCE AWAKENS , HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON , MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III , and the upcoming Star Wars Episode IX ).
This is my honest opinion of: VENOM
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a reporter for his hit show, “The Eddie Brock Report,” is well respected in the journalist field, and he has a great fiancé in Anne (Michelle Williams), whom love each other very much. However, things change for him drastically when Eddie is hired to interview Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), owner of the mega pharmaceutical corporation, the Life Foundation. What is supposed to be a simple and easy-going interview, Eddie heckles Carlton about human testing rumors that have been circulating involving his company. Because of this, he loses his job, and because he read classified information off of Anne’s laptop pertaining to the Life Foundation, she loses her job, and he loses her. Six months later, Eddie is struggling to get by when an employee of the Life Foundation, Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) approaches him and tells him that his accusations were right. The Life Foundation found alien life in the form of a parasite called Symbiotes that need a host in order to live and have begun experimentation on finding human hosts. Taken to the labs for proof, Eddie is inadvertently infected with one of them, calling itself Venom (voiced by Tom Hardy) and goes on a rampage killing anyone who fights against it.
I definitely don’t agree with the critics on this one, but I also think anyone who says it’s great needs to rethink their definition of “great,” because this is a dumb movie. Fun for the most part, but dumb.
Alright, so right out of the gate, the biggest question any fan would have would be if Venom is done justice. Although my limited knowledge of the character should probably be taken with a grain of salt, I would say it’s a far sight better than what SPIDER-MAN 3 did to him. He’s huge, he’s bulky, he’s damn fast and tough, and he’s literally eating people’s heads off. It’s not graphic or anything, but it’s there. He’s also a savage fighter, throwing people around, beating one SWAT guy with another SWAT guy, who should be dead as a door knob with the high impact that he’s being slammed with. And although it takes quite a bit of time to get to Venom and his interactions with Eddie, there is a fun dynamic between the two. Technically, UPGRADE did this concept better, but this has its moments. I don’t know what it is about Hardy, but the dude sure loves to talk to himself and look good doin’ it. One of my favorite moments is when Venom tells Eddie to jump out a multiple story window, but Eddie decides to take the elevator, prompting a hilarious, “Pussy!” from Venom. It’s little moments like this that make the movie pretty worthwhile, as well as the action.
On a smaller scale, I do enjoy the little nods to other Symbiote characters, like She-Venom, as Anne Weying really did get to wear the suit in the comics. Don’t worry, kids, it’s literally for only thirty seconds, so it’s not much of a spoiler, especially if it doesn’t go anywhere. Oh, and did anyone else chuckle when Slate redubbed her “sym-bye-ote” line when it came up? ‘Cuz I did. Of course, the poor ADR didn’t help matters as the spoken dialog is different than what her mouth is physically moving to.
But it’s time to talk about the problems, of which there are plenty.
The first problem is just how weirdly dumb Riot is. He first latches onto Jameson (likely J. Jonah Jameson’s son), then a SWAT lady, then an old lady, all in the span of likely just a few hours. Then Eddie goes through his drama and then it’s six months later… and Riot is still the old woman! Why?! He was trading hosts left and right when he first landed on Earth. What made her body so special, especially since the Symbiote kills a host that isn’t compatible? Even Venom was killing Eddie and he had Venom for less than a few days. Even if you wanted to make the claim that Riot was compatible with the old woman, then why does he switch bodies to the little girl? And now for the kicker. Why does Riot return to the Life Foundation labs?! What the hell was he doing for six months as the old woman?! Okay, actually, now that I’m thinking about it, he needed Life’s rocket ship to go back to the Symbiote homeworld and bring back his people for an invasion. Still, six months worth of wandering only to come right back to where he was already going to go had he stayed in Jameson’s body, there had to have been a smarter way to go about this.
The movie is also no especially well-written. Never mind the whole, “Armless, legless, thing. Like a turd in the wind,” line (have YOU ever seen a turd in the wind?), but Eddie is written to be a pretty unlikable character in the beginning. All of his problems later on are his own fault. He’s the one who got nosy and looked through Anne’s emails for dirt, and he’s the one who couldn’t keep it together during his interview with Drake, getting himself and Anne fired in the end, who breaks off their engagement. And he takes no responsibility for his actions. He blames Drake for all of it. Look, I get it, in the comics, Eddie hates Peter Parker and Venom hates Spider-Man, but there’s specific and better reasons why. However, here, that hatred is directed at Drake, who is simply doing what anyone would do and not accept incredibly invasive and reputation-damaging questions, regardless of their validity. What was Eddie really expecting when asking those questions? That Drake would simply admit, “Yes, we do human testing, because I don’t care about the legalities”? Uh, dumb-ass, no. That’s not how that shit works. You have to have proof, go into the labs yourself, which he eventually does, and take pictures, video, the works. Simply asking about rumors and making blank accusations has a marvelous tendency to backfire… which is does.
And the action toward the end gets a little too crazy. Not that the visual of two Symbiotes fighting isn’t the most awesome thing in the world, the camera shakes so much that you can’t always make out what you’re seeing. And since there isn’t the biggest distinction in color between Venom and Riot, especially in a dark-ass setting, no one wins while watching this.
Overall, this movie is not the best of its kind. It’s poorly written, its main character isn’t always likable, the dialog can be pretty cringe-worthy, and there are just some dumb choices made here. With all that said, I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t like it. Once the action gets going, I do enjoy seeing Venom and his interactions with Eddie. It has its moments. As a recommendation, I think you shouldn’t go in expecting anything on the level of the MCU. If you do, you’re in for a disappointment. But if you don’t mind “dumb, but fun” then you might have a better time than the critics did.
My honest rating for VENOM: a strong 3/5
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