A Review By Dany Chavez
“Your scientists were so preoccupied thinking whether or not if they could they never stopped to think if they should”
– Ian Malcolm
It is not often I start off a review on a film with a quote from an entirely different one but trust me, this will come back to question this movies’ somewhat selfish existence.
Before we begin, allow me to introduce myself:
I am a Spider-Man Fan, Venom is just the cherry on top of the massive gallery of villains Spidey has fought throughout the years.
That being said.
I understand that certain “creative liberties” will be taken with a character’s arc for the sake of fitting the average 2 hour time frame.
This is coming from the guy who enjoyed the first couple of X-men films. I understand that my expectations for superhero movies have to lower. As both a film and comic book “enthusiast”, my Standard will not always be met. A comic book film doesn’t have to be 100% accurate to the source to be a good film. I loved Logan, even though it only had a few nods to the original Old Man Logan storyline. So when Sony decided to make a universe about Spidey’s supporting cast and villains WITHOUT Spider-Man himself, I was concerned. nonetheless, I was open to Venom being a good stand-alone film.
“A Step Taken Back, Like A Flashback”:
Remember The early days of comic books movies? When Studio executives relied on you the Fan to watch their movie based on the trailer alone? It was a time before Rotten Tomatoes was the deciding factor if a movie was worth seeing in theaters. You just had to leave it to chance that you were going to see a good movie. That gamble was more often miss than hit, to say the least.
I’ve personally come to call these the dark times of comic book films and I can’t say that miss them but looking back at this time period, it does make you thankful for the modern day standard that many of us take for granted.
Nowadays Marvel Studios have more or less embraced the silliness of the source material (Spandex anyone?) and tend to focus on a solid story with likable, charismatic characters in a cohesive in-universe narrative.
Venom, however, feels like a time capsule back to the dark ages before the inception of Marvel Studios.
To be more precise, it feels like the mid-2000’s again. (Honorable mentions being: Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Catwoman, Bat-nipples)
Casting an A-list actor to bring casual moviegoers in to fill seats? Check
Cutting 40+ minutes of footage, and tiptoe around an R-rating for multiple viewings? Check
Cheap CGI? Check
Cheap gags to get a cheap laugh? Check.
Hell, the movie even has an original song to tie in with Eminem’s new album.
Come to think of it, Maybe it is 2005 again.
But they did get a somewhat comic book accurate costume for our lethal protector, so I guess they did take a page of Marvel Studios’ ever so secret formula.
But that’s about it.
“It’s Always Sunny in San Francisco”:
What baffles me is that this could’ve been a decent film, Tom Hardy and Riz Ahmed have the acting chops to take a stab at the comic book genre and make an impression.
Yet it’s put in to question what exactly was given to these talented folks to make Tom, channel his inner Charlie Kelly and force Riz to give a half-assed Elon Musk impersonation, complete with a Space X clone to top it off.
They’re not memorable performances, but the supporting cast pales in comparison.
It’s a Classic case of everyone else fitting their roles as the plot sees fit to put the protagonist on the (anti) hero’s journey. Even if it means ignoring what’s given of the characters skills/background.
Jenny Slate’s character, who is a scientist with a Ph.D. Concocts a plan to expose her company’s shady practices by enlisting Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock, whose background profession was a blacklisted edgy Vice news reporter, and sneaking him to the facility with the goal of getting him to film their inhumane practices on the homeless. (something she could’ve done herself by the way) Yet she “forgets” how surveillance is a thing in the modern day of 2005 and gets caught the very next morning since she proceeded to show up to work without a single thought on how security witnessed her involvement with the incident, that had occurred only hours ago.
But the characters “actions” or lack of thinking, does advance the plot by ignoring her background as a Ph.D. Scientist. In this case, the film does this so it can get the Eddie to the plot device, which is the Sym-bi-Oates. (they actually went back and fixed the pronunciation in this cut) unfortunately whatever scenes that give realistic motivations and development were left in the cutting floor, at least that’s what I pressume. The Film doesn’t just exclusively do this to Slate’s character, but rather to all the main players here.
Even more questionable, Riz’s Antagonist is looking to save mankind: yet sides with the very being(s) that bluntly plans to end it. What?
As if that wasn’t awkward enough, the pacing really hinders in the development and growth of most, if not all of the characters, especially Venom’s.
One moment Venom is controlling Eddie like a sock puppet, and the next he’s off to save humanity because he had consumed frozen Chicken Nuggets. I. Am. Not. Exaggerating. I won’t spoil much on this movie because if I were to write it out word for word, then it would be you folks questioning whether or not I actually watched the movie, or just read really really really bad fan fiction or a rejected screenplay, originating from the familiar year of 2005
“You’re Trash Brock!”:
Listen, if the film was bad in general, fine.
I more often than not enjoy unintentional “bad” films, I for one enjoyed, Shane Black’s The Predator, for all the wrong reasons.
But if there’s something Bad movies have in common; it’s making the Protagonist forgettable and easy to hate.
The Film tries to make you, the viewer; sympathize with Brock’s current situation of a common man down on his luck. Broke, jobless and recently dumped.
Common trope but let’s run with it for the sake of this review, the difference here is that Brock is in this position because of his own actions.
Does he learn from his mistakes by the end of the movie? No.
Instead, he’s rewarded with great power to further exploit his intentions.
Is he likable at least? I can’t really say.
Brock serves as Punching Bag of sorts for the audiences to laugh at.
Think Bruce Campbell, Jim Carrey, and Woody Allen, Except none of the charisma to carry the film.
“The (minuscule) Good, The (ever present) Bad, and the Ugly (Truth)”:
“So Dany? What did stick out to you in a positive note?” You might ask?
I have to admit the interactions between Venom and Eddie are quite laughable and entertaining; Even if that wasn’t the film’s intentions at certain points. and that’s about it.
I know it seems like I’m being harsh on a film just because it’s not established in the ever-growing MCU, and I’ll be honest I don’t like to be hard on films in general, there is some capacity of love and passion in these type of projects. that being said; while sitting down in my screening of Venom, I couldn’t help but trade stupefied looks with my pal Jason and wonder if we were watching the same movie as the rest of audience, as they laughed at Tom Hardy’s sudden appetite for live crustaceans.
No, I’m not going to explain that either, because I too was confused at what exactly had transpired in that scene.
So it comes down to this, I mentioned before that this could’ve been a decent movie.
But I can’t let go of the fact that this film didn’t need to happen.
In a time where the Box Office is dominated by superhero movies, what was Venom set out to do?
It doesn’t have the R rating to differentiate itself from the norm of the MCU.
Nor was it light enough to take the family out for the weekend. This movie does push the limits of a PG-13 rating.
And It especially doesn’t rework the character either to make him more interesting or relatable.
No, this is more or less the Product of a studio that didn’t want to stay in the shadows of its former Protégé.
So they banked on a familiar name and slapped the Marvel logo in hopes to one day join its rival studio and rake in the billions of dollars thrown at their doorstep.
They questioned whether or not they could replicate Marvel Studios’ success, but yet didn’t stop to think if they even should in the first place.
Only time will tell if Venom is the success Sony was looking for, but one thing for certain at this time, it’s gonna be a no from me.
Alexa, Play me out to “I’m the real slim shady” by Eminem
“why would we do that?”
Eddie Brock, on the making of this film