Please feel free to comment on my review.
Venom Is Not A Superhero
At least, that’s what he shouldn’t be in this movie!
On Saturday the 6th of October 2018, I saw the movie ‘Venom’ at the cinema! It has a 15 rating to it, but quite honestly I think it could’ve easily been a 12 rated film. Mind you, the visual look of Venom in the film might be scary for kids to make it 15-rated. But it isn’t as bloodily violent as you’d expect.
The film stars Tom Hardy as the main character Eddie Brock a.k.a. Venom. It was directed by Ruben Fleischer, who has now directed two ‘Zombieland’ movies – the first one was in 2009 and the second one was in 2019. The ‘Venom’ film also has Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze and Reid Scott.
Marvel Comics likes to take advantage of its superhero characters in the movies. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some really good Marvel superhero movies over the years as well as some pretty bad ones. Even for me, I have enjoyed some of the bad movies such as ‘Daredevil’, ‘Hulk’, etc.
But so far, the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ has had a sterling success in terms of superhero movies. In 2018, they reached the 10th anniversary! Since then, Sony has wanted to have their Marvel universe to add to the MCU. Unfortunately, Sony’s first film for their Marvel universe was ‘Venom’.
Venom was a comic book character created by Todd McFarlane and David Michelinie. He made his first appearance initially as ‘the alien costume’ for ‘Secret Wars’ #8 with Spider-Man before finally appearing as Venom in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ #299 (as a cameo) and #300 (as a full appearance).
Over the years, Venom is regarded as one of the most complex characters ever in the Marvel comics and is often considered as one of Spider-Man’s greatest villains. He even appeared in the 1990s animated series of ‘Spider-Man’ in ‘The Alien Costume’ three-parter and ‘Venom Returns’/’Carnage’.
The comic book character made his first cinematic appearance in ‘Spider-Man 3’ in 2007. Whilst that wasn’t a great movie, it was still good to see Venom in it. The ‘Venom’ film had been in development for a very long time since ‘Spider-Man 3’ was made. It was finally released at cinemas 11 years later.
Yeah! 11 years! What took them so long?! The character of Eddie Brock/Venom was originally played by Topher Grace in ‘Spider-Man 3’. But instead of recasting Topher Grace, Tom Hardy took on the role. I’ve seen Tom Hardy before in ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘The Revenant’.
I had my doubts about this movie before it was released at cinemas. I had doubts about it when it was conceived early in the late 2000s and when the film was finally released at cinemas in October 2018. Could I be wrong about this of course? Could the ‘Venom’ movie be better than I anticipated?
Well I hoped it’d be good before I saw it at the cinema. I knew Spider-Man wasn’t going to be in it, which was a big shame. I had heard negative criticisms about it. But I wanted to give this film a fair trial. I knew the movie was going to be bad, but I was curious and wanted to find out why it was bad.
After seeing the film though, I could see why the film was poorly rated. I’m glad I wasn’t wrong in my doubts for it. ‘Venom’ as a movie is a complete mess! The tone and pacing is all over the place. There are far too many plot holes to look for when you think about the film not making much sense.
But at the same time, I can’t blame the actors for trying their best with the material they were given in the script. Tom Hardy on the whole is a very good actor and does well playing Eddie Brock/Venom. I just wish that his performance matched well in terms of the character he was playing in the movie.
How can I put it? Well, I had an original conception for ‘Venom’ as a film compared to what it actually ended up being. From seeing the trailers, I had a feeling that this was going to be a super-villain movie as opposed to a superhero movie. That when seeing it, you’d root for the bad guy.
In a sense, that would be pretty good to see Venom as a monstrous character causing destruction in every corner as you’d expect. But what we got wasn’t good and not much destruction caused by Venom happened. Oh and the film is set in San Francisco. Why couldn’t they have set it in New York?
One of the biggest issues I have with this movie is that Eddie Brock as Venom doesn’t end up being a villain as you’d expect. Instead, Eddie turns out to be the hero working with Venom to save the day. Well, there’s all that expectation of bad guy Venom gone out of the window as far as I’m concerned.
And do you know what the worst thing about this was? Venom actually changed his mind about seeing the world destroyed as he becomes a part of Eddie to save the Earth. It’s simply because he likes Earth and because he loves Eddie Brock! I’m not even joking! That is what occurs in this movie!
Look, I know people criticise Venom’s appearance in ‘Spider-Man 3’ and there are those who don’t like Topher Grace’s performance as the character. But the thing with Venom in that movie was Eddie Brock Jr. was already ‘a bad boy’ and he relished being very bad when he became Venom by the end.
Even the ‘Spider-Man 3’ novelization by Peter David expands on Eddie Brock Jr./Venom’s character more, describing the motivations on why he did what he did in the film despite the flaws he had. The 1990s ‘Spider-Man’ cartoon episodes with Venom did better than what this ‘Venom’ movie showed.
I prefer the versions of Venom in the 1990s ‘Spider-Man’ cartoon and the ‘Spider-Man 3’ film more than I prefer the one featured in the ‘Venom’ film. How can that be when Tom Hardy is such a great actor? He could’ve delivered a performance that easily made Eddie Brock/Venom far more complex!
Yeah, let’s talk about Eddie’s character for a bit. The movie could easily have told the story of Eddie Brock as a reluctant person who becomes infected with a monstrous parasite in Venom. The symbiote could be a bad thing for Eddie and he’s struggling to control it, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Now in that story, Mr. Hyde had no redemption in him. He was unable to do good because that was in his nature to be bad as a character. Jekyll had no control of Hyde because Hyde was able to overpower him very greatly to the extent that Jekyll soon lost his will to be a good person ever again.
So with ‘Venom’, in order to make this approach work, Eddie Brock needed to be seen as struggling with the Venom alien symbiote all the way throughout. This could easily give Eddie the psychological attacks he has to the point where he can’t take it anymore and he just allows Venom to take control.
That’s not what happens in this movie and I think it would’ve been better if the filmmakers went all the way with Eddie Brock becoming gleefully evil and smashing San Francisco apart where he becomes a lethal threat. That way, this could add potential to ‘Venom’ sequels in the years to come.
Another major issue I have, and it pains me to say this, but I don’t think ‘Venom’ works as a movie without Spider-Man in it. Venom’s origins are connected to Spider-Man strongly in the comics. By removing and replacing them with new origins for Venom is not going to allow the film to stand well.
Mind you, there are ways around making a ‘Venom’ film without making reference to Spider-Man but keeping the comic book origins intact. You can still have Eddie Brock lose his job because of Peter Parker/Spider-Man without making reference to him. It would add the film a sense of mystery.
You can still have Eddie Brock get the Venom alien symbiote from Spider-Man without making reference to him either. That approach can allow the audience, especially for those not knowing Venom well, to wonder why Eddie/Venom’s causing much chaos and why he’s driven by vengeance.
Sadly, I don’t think that’s what this movie does or if it does do that, then it’s not done well. By making Venom more of a hero in the movie, you make him less scary, threatening and intimidating as he should be. It’s clear that the script was weakly written and it had too many silly moments in it.
The rest of the cast, like Tom Hardy, deliver decent performances to their characters. But sadly, the script doesn’t do any favours and the characters do come across as weak. Most of them are generic and don’t have intriguing motivations why they do what they do in the film compared to the comics.
Michelle Williams stars as Anne Weying, Eddie Brock’s fiancée who eventually breaks up with him. Now I didn’t know this, but apparently Anne became She-Venom in the comics. We have a moment in the film where Anne is wearing the Venom symbiote for a bit, but it’s very different in the comics.
Riz Ahmed stars as Carlton Drake/Riot, who becomes Venom’s arch-nemesis in the film. Drake is in charge of the Life Foundation who experiments on the alien symbiotes brought down to Earth. Drake’s motives in making the world a better place are questionable as he tests on homeless people.
The film also features Scott Haze as Roland Treece, who is Carlton Drake’s head of security at the Life Foundation. There’s also Reid Scott as Dan Lewis, Anne’s new boyfriend who is a doctor that tries to help Eddie with the Venom symbiote on him. There’s not really much to say about these characters.
The film also features Jenny Slate as Dora Skirth, a scientist who works at the Life Foundation that is afraid of what Carlton Drake’s doing with experimenting on people with alien symbiotes. There’s also Melora Walters as Maria, a homeless woman that transfers the Venom symbiote onto Eddie. 😮
There’s a brief cameo of Chris O’Hara as astronaut John Jameson. So, wait? Spider-Man does exist in this universe with J. Jonah Jameson. Then how come he doesn’t appear…oh screw it! There’s also a nice cameo appearance of Stan Lee in this film. I was surprised Stan even appeared in ‘Venom’ here.
The action sequences aren’t that great, especially in the fight between Venom and Riot where the CGI effects are pretty dodgy. It’s also amazing that Venom didn’t leave any blood on the floor when he ate people. This is especially in the final scene where Eddie/Venom ate a thug in a grocers’ store.
When watching this film on DVD, my parents and I noted that the s**t word got said a lot by the characters as well as the F word. My parents and I were making fun of this as we watched the film. An example of bad script-writing perhaps? I should’ve counted how many times the s**t word got used.
I did like that mid-credits cameo appearance of Woody Harrelson as Cletus Kasady when Eddie Brock goes to see him at a prison. Cletus Kasady would go on to be Carnage in the ‘Spider-Man’ comics. Clearly, this is setting up for what’s to come in the ‘Venom’ sequel, which is to come in October 2021!
There was also a clip featured towards the end of the film’s credits from the animated movie ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ with Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) and Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson). Clearly it’s meant to promote the film, but what’s the connection to ‘Venom’?
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the ‘Venom’ music video by Eminem; the ‘Sunflower’ music video by Post Malone and Swan Lee for ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’; a sneak peak into ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ (which was already included towards the end of the ‘Venom’ film credits – why did they do it twice?) and a preview/trailer for the film ‘Searching’ with John Cho.
The Blu-ray release of this film also includes the ‘Venom’ music video by Eminem; the ‘Sunflower’ music video by Post Malone and Swan Lee for ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’; the sneak peak into ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ and the ‘Searching’ film preview/trailer. There’s also the ‘Venom Mode’ info-text commentary option; ‘From Symbiote to Screen’; ‘The Anti-Hero’; ‘The Lethal Protection in Action’; ‘Venom Vision’; ‘Designing Venom’; ‘Symbiote Secrets’; a collection of eight ‘Select Scenes Pre-Vis’ and three deleted scenes.
I’ve said as much as I can about this movie. I don’t think ‘Venom’ as a film showcases the character in the best light as one of the greatest and complex characters from the Marvel comics. It does look impressive in terms of its visuals and again I praise Tom Hardy’s performance as Eddie Brock/Venom.
But this movie was such a wasted opportunity and did all the wrong moves for Venom as a character. I don’t want to see Venom as a hero. I want see him as a villain! I know in the comics he developed gradually as a character, especially when he became an ally of Spider-Man at some point.
But if Venom was going to be done right as a properly-developed character in the movies, he had to be presented in the right progressive manner. He had to start off as a villain in the first movie before he became an anti-hero in the sequels. Sadly, despite the reviews, ‘Venom’ was a big box office success.
I can’t deny I enjoyed this movie in a strange kind of way. I found it entertainingly bad. I don’t know if the ‘Venom’ sequel will be better than the first film. Let’s hope it will be better with Andy Serkis as the director. But if it’s going to continue with the way this version of Venom is going, I sadly doubt it.
‘Venom’ rating – 3/10
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