Venom: Not Your Grandma’s Comic Book Movie

 

I’m actually upset with how much I enjoyed this movie. There are definitely problems and we’ll get to those later, but overall it was entertaining. The 2018 anti-hero blockbuster, directed by Ruben Fleischer, felt like a good movie trapped inside a bad movie. There was extremely boring and pointless scenes, the bad guy was two-dimensional and flat, and it took way too long to actually get to see Venom. But holy shit was the Eddie Brock/Venom relationship the most perfect comic book portrayal I could have asked for.

Tom Hardy is London’s sweetheart. When news of the movie came out, his casting was the only thing that actually gave me interest. I heard interviews with him, and he sounded genuinely interested in the character.  It shows on-screen the amount of work and care he point into the movie. It isn’t a shocker to find out his portrayal of Eddie Brock is the best part. He is a man who isn’t a hero, he doesn’t want to be the white knight; in fact he’s kind of prick, and that’s why I love him. His performance was actually funny, and not in a MCU tongue in cheek way. The dude is a dick. And Venom is a shit talking asshole. This is what I wanted out of the two’s exchanges. A guy who you don’t really like all that much, being fused with an abusive parasite, and the two of them saving the world because “fuck it, why not? At least I can eat some people.”

I will say, I was expecting more murder and violence. There are way more fight scenes then I was actually expecting. The movie gives you the goods way sooner than the final five minutes. But out of all of that, I would have personally liked it to have been more graphic. There are moments where Venom does eats peoples heads. But I’m referring to the fights in general and how there could have had more impact. I’m not asking for tons of blood either. I might be the only person who doesn’t mind the PG-13 rating. But there’s a big difference between great choreographed action and a giant CG guy just throwing people at walls. The CG itself wasn’t too bad. I think they probably hired different companies to do different scenes because some of the graphics did not look too great.  Importantly though Venom himself looked great. The main draw back is just not seeing him enough.

Look, there is way more full suit Venom then I thought there was going to be. My complaint isn’t about how he wasn’t in the movie. My complaint is that the rest of the scenes without him or Eddie were just bad. Riz Hamed is a great actor, I’ve been a fan ever since The Night Of, but his character is written so poorly. He’s an evil villain for no other reason then the plot demands it. They never really explain his motives or flesh out his personality enough for me to believe he would act like an evil mad scientist. The supporting actors Jenny Slate, Reid Scott, and Scott Haze weren’t even important enough for me to tell you who they played because they come in and out of the movie with little to no importance. They’re only really there to deliver key plot points or be part of some funny situation. I will say I liked Anna Weyling, Eddies ex fiance played by Michelle Williams. With all the insane stuff going on to Eddie, she actually seems like a real character that would react accordingly to the situation. She wasn’t just some damsel for Eddie to save. She actually is a key part of the plot and probably one of the main reasons the symbiote goes from murdering alien to Lethal Protector.

In the comic books, Venom is one of the greatest villains of all time. He is definitely a personal favorite of mine. But his long history on the pages have not always been as a bad guy. Venom is the definition of anti-hero. One of the best interactions between Tom Hardy and the voice in his head was spoiled in the trailers. Eddie tells the symbiote that it’s not okay to hurt good people, but maybe in some occasions they can kill and eat bad people. Venom is a serial killer that saves people more out of convenience then some sense of duty. I feel like movies with protagonists like this don’t come around all the time. TIt had a lot of flaws but the main thing I thought while watching was “man, I’m glad Marvel didn’t do this character.” I love the MCU but more importantly I like variety. Venom is different then a lot of comic book movies that are flooding cinemas. If anything this reminded me of the older comic book movies from the 2000’s like Blade, X-Men, and the first Spider-Man. Those films all had flaws too but we still remember them in a positive light. I think there is still a place for movies like this in a current market. I hope Sony holds on to the Spider-Man property long enough to give me a Venom sequel. This was a decent Origin story, but now I want to see a full-fledged story with a character that had complete control over his powers versus someone who can cause a lot of carnage.

I do want to address something I heard before going into the movie. Apparently Tom Hardy was asked in an interview what his favorite scene was. His response indicated that about 30-40 minutes worth of footage was removed from the final cut. No one knows what these were. There are rumors stating they are more violent scenes that wouldn’t have allowed for the PG-13 rating. Others have said that Tom Hardy enjoyed ad-libing his lines and they were darker jokes. If a ‘Ultimate Edition’ version of the film comes out that is a half hour longer and unrated. I’m 100% for that. But If not, I’m still okay with the version we got in theaters.

The movie may have some weak writing and plot development but when mixed with Tom Hardy and a character that has a huge cult fan base, it came out good enough. Yeah it could have been better, but by no means is it bad. Lets say the symbiotic relationship between my nostalgic love for the character and the fun performance on-screen is what saved this film from The Snappening. Not every movie has to be judged against Shawshank Redemption. Some times you can be happy with a low-budget comic flick that has a likable shit head eating some other shit heads. The world has enough superheroes.

 

Movie watched and review written by: Troy Smith

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