Review of Venom

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It’s weird seeing a Venom origin story that does not feature Spider-Man. Readers of the Marvel comic books will be aware that Venom started life as Peter Parker’s black organic suit. The couple eventually broke up, as Venom became too clingy. Spidey doesn’t appear at all in this two-hour live action flick. The reason? Sony has currently loaned him out to Marvel Studios. That’s disappointing, but on the plus side the film can boast having the very talented Tom Hardy in the lead role. Ruben Fleischer is the movie’s director. His past work includes Zombieland, a cartoon about undead pop idol singers.

OVERVIEW

Eddie Brock is an award-winning investigative reporter. No idea how he won a prize for journalism, given that the movie presents him as a buffoon. In the opening act, Eddie has the gall to accuse entrepreneur Carlton Drake of running a company that conducts inhumane experiments. Eddie’s claims are not backed by a shred of evidence, so it’s no surprise when he is subsequently fired by the news station he works for. Only when he is in the unemployment line does Eddie decide to search for proof. Under the cover of dusk, he infiltrates a research lab affiliated with Drake’s Life Foundation.

There he finds a trio of alien parasites that the group seized from a wandering comet. One of the creatures ends up bonding with Eddie, transforming him into the titular anti-hero. Venom possesses the looks of Spawn and the tongue of Gene Simmons. For the remainder of the film Eddie battles against mercenaries, who have been hired by Drake to retrieve the specimen he unwittingly stole. A second foe appears late on in the movie. Said antagonist is a fellow Symbiote named Riot, who landed on Earth a few months prior, and has since been murdering anyone who gets in his way.

VERDICT

My rating for Venom is a three out of five. In my opinion, the movie doesn’t deserve all the hate that most professional critics have heaped upon it. That said, Venom is merely entertaining. It’s not on the level of what Marvel Studios usually puts out. Even when compared to other third-party superhero releases, it is a grade below Deadpool, Logan and the first two Raimi directed Spider-Man films. Audiences may be caught off guard by the script’s tone. Venom’s creepy design and appetite for human heads seems perfect for an R-Rated horror. What we get however is a standard PG-13 superhero tale that is heavy on slapstick.

For some, that will be a missed opportunity and potential deal breaker. I personally didn’t mind the more light-hearted direction taken by the creators. The best scenes were not the moments of violence, but rather the times when Venom and his human host engaged in humorous banter. On the visual side of things, it’s good to see a bulky Venom onscreen. The character design is more faithful to the source material than Venom’s appearance in Spider-Man 3. I found the quality of the CG effects to be a mixed bag. At times it looked cool. The final battle was a bit of a mess though. Akin to a Transformers fight, it’s hard to follow as it features two similar looking characters tangling with each other.

Venom isn’t perfect, but I enjoyed it. The credits tease a potential sequel that I would be up for watching. Sony could have a hit on their hands, if the follow-up manages to inject a bit more action to the mix and beefs up the writing in terms of characterisation. Hardy’s performance carries the movie, as no one else stood out. Riz Ahmed and Michelle Williams play the villain and love interest respectively. Both are decent actors but struggled to make an impression due to the lack of material they had to work with. Don’t expect either of them to get Venom-inated for an Oscar.

 

 

38 thoughts on “Review of Venom

  1. Your review pretty much echoes my own: it was a fun film, nothing truly special, but definitely not worthy of the hate it’s been receiving by the critics. Lol: Zombieland Saga is a fun animeseries about undead idol singers, but that’s an anime. Zombieland is a zombie moviecomedy. I haven’t seen it myself yet, but it’s supposedly very good 😊 But I have this feeling you were just playing with us on that one 😂
    I definitely agree with Williams and Ahmed being underused. Both are terrific actors, but have little to do here. Lucklily powerhouse Tom Hardy saves the film. I hope that the potential sequel will iron out the flaws…because then we might get something really great. As always great post! 😊

      • Haha…yeah…that just can’t be a coincidence that’s for sure 😊 Will be interesting to see Carnage in the sequel for it though…hopefully that will be fun to see 😊

  2. I enjoyed it much more than I expected. I thought it was all over the place tonally and had a much stronger first half than second (which inevitably descended into a confusion of CGI). It was certainly no batman Vs superman though!

    • Compared to other superhero movies Venom is middle of the pack. Worse than a lot of the Marvel Studios stuff, but better than the DC made flops.

      I hear that a ton of footage got cut, which may explain why it feels so disjointed. Perhaps some of that will get included in the DVD.

  3. It being PG-13 did affect it a little bit but overall it was a fun take on the character were Eddie Brock a babyface (-ish) from the start instead of him slowly becoming good in the comics. Didn’t mind the change from horror to pretty much Men in Black. It’s not like the source material and I had no problem with that either though diehard fans of the character definitely threw tantrums. Will see it again once the uncut BD comes out.

    • Venom could easily have been an R, especially since Deadpool opened the door for mature hero films. I don’t think the movie would have been drastically different had it gotten a higher age rating. We would have seen gore, instead of the camera cutting away, but on the flip side the movie would have attracted fewer viewers. The money lost from kids not going to the cinema might have hurt Venom’s takings and potential for a sequel.

      • It was clear the change to PG-13 was to attract a wider audience. No big deal as we did get a few head chomps and they kept the “femme” scene so it wasn’t completely neutered.

  4. A lot of people when reviewing Venom say it’s a dumbed down version of Upgrade, but I get the feeling if I were to see it, I would probably say that the two films aren’t so different at the end of the day. The only difference is that while Upgrade indulges in the worst clichés and excesses of 2010s science fiction, Venom feels two decades behind. If that’s the case, it’s pretty obvious which one would amass more critical acclaim. I have to admit I’m kind of tempted to see it so I can know for sure. Maybe I’ll check it out when it appears on Netflix.

    Also, maybe it’s just me, but critics seem to have been really negative as of late. It’s not uncommon for them to be rather antagonistic when defending films they like when the general audience doesn’t agree. I also suspect they’ve been judging films more on their messages than on their stories. If it doesn’t have a message they can get behind, they drop it like a lead balloon. Obviously, I don’t think a film with a message is incapable of being good, but they’ve been letting a lot of weak films off the hook while giving perfectly fine ones an earful.

    • After reading your comment I decided to check out the trailer for Upgrade. I can certainly see some similarities between it and Venom. There’s the banter and scenes of a third party fighting to protect its host.

      If Upgrade is a superior film and I had watched it first I might have given Venom a lower score. Movie critics were a tad harsh with Venom though. Even if a movie is not technically good it can still be fun to watch.

      • Honestly, I find it hard to picture some of the other comic symbiotes in a PG-13 film. Mania for example feels far too vicious to work in that environment. Given the film was originally going to be R rated too, there has to be a fair amount of stuff missing from the cinema cut.

  5. Yeah, I also thought that the film was better than critics were saying. I gave it the same score and I don’t think the film needed to be R to be good. Giving Riot a more colorful design would have certainly helped make the final fight more distinct. At least the sequel shouldn’t have that problem based on who the villain is going to be.

    • The fluid composition of the Symbiotes makes the fighting scenes a challenge to follow. I enjoyed Venom clashing with the mercs more than the tussle with Riot. Hopefully the red/black contrast will help things stand out more in the sequel.

      • I definitely think that should help a lot. Also, I expect the sequel will get a bigger budget since this film is doing so well which should help quite a bit as well

  6. I know I was confused when this was announced and up to pretty much its release. “Wait, here’s a bunch of merchandise with Spiderman, but yet there’s no Spiderman in any trailers, but hey, here’s a cartoon with Spiderman again…Is this guy Spiderman’s nemesis or not?!?!”

    • Venom was Spider-Man’s biggest rival years ago. The problem is that adapting the story faithfully would take many movies to pull off. Spider-Man 3 tried to fast track that tale and we all saw how that ended up.

  7. I loved this movie and I totally agree with your take on the side characters. But they need a love interest at least, I suppose. I wouldn’t mind another one. Great review!

    • Hardy and Williams didn’t have much onscreen chemistry so perhaps they should find a new love interest for the next film. Pursuing someone who has a boyfriend can hurt a hero’s reputation. I’m surprised how friendly the doctor was towards an ex-fiancé who is hanging around his girlfriend.

  8. This one I’m saving for the Blu-ray rental – if I can be bothered. Surely the whole point was that he was the anti-Spiderman (I saw the 90’s cartoons so I actually know this)? Not having Spidey involved is like having a film about the Joker and no Batm… oh wait… :-\

    • The nineties X-Men and Spider-Man cartoons were awesome and fairly faithful to the comics. Having the symbiote bypass Spidey and bond with Brock straight away works in this movie. Should the two characters meet in a future film though their rivalry won’t be as personal, which is a shame.

  9. My younger brother seen this movie and pretty much said the same as you. It wasn’t great but was still entertaining 😀

    I can so empathise with your similar looking characters confusion. I found the last two Hunger games movies really confusing, because Katniss’s boyfriend and one of the Tributes looked alike 🙂 Didn’t have a clue what was happening at times 🙂

    • Oh dear. You would think when casting actors they would hire people who don’t look so similar. I still need to watch the Hunger Games sequels. The first movie was alright, but I felt that the action was ruined by too much shaky cam.

  10. I definitely filed this under Wait Until It Shows Up on Netflix. It seems so odd to not tie this into Spider-Man at all. But I am surprised at how many good reviews I’m hearing from people!

    • The average score on Metacritic is terrible. Looks like the positive reviews are coming from cinemagoers rather than professional reviewers. Waiting for the movie to appear on Netlfix is not a bad idea. Venom is entertaining, but not essential viewing.

  11. Hello The Otaku Judge,

    It is good to see a review of this movie that is different from the others that I have seen.

    You probably rated it higher than the other reviews that I have seen.

    Sometimes reviewers like to pile up on a movie with almost hive-mind reviews, and so it is good to see people who avoid that.

    I have not seen Venom myself.

    Thank you for sharing your review,
    -John Jr

    • I wonder if critics influence each other when talking among themselves after a review screening. Everyone has different tastes when it comes to movies. I can see why some people have bashed Venom, but in my opinion it’s far from the worst hero movie ever.

      • Hello The Otaku Judge,

        That is one possibility among several others like: sponsors, gifts and other perks, peer pressure and trying to fit in, less diversity among critics, plagiarism, et cetera.

        I have not seen it, but I also doubt that it is as bad as some make it out to be. 😀

        -John Jr

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