Media Review #1
“Venom” feels like an action movie from a decade ago and it doesn’t fit the allure of today’s superhero genre but earns the audience’s charm for Tom Hardy’s portrayal of the relationship of reporter Eddie Brock and the film’s titular alien symbiote.
In this golden age of comic book movies Ruben Leichter’s Venom is a relic. Venom’s dry color-pallet, spotty CGI, and stale villains are only the beginning of a litany of cinematic missteps. Ever since its announcement eyebrows have been raised about a solo Venom film. Being a villain of Spider-Man, the idea of a film without his arch-nemesis seemed like a hollow attempt at a cash grab from Sony after allowing Marvel Studios the film rights of Spider-Man in 2015. 2018’s Venom seems to confirm this apprehension. Venom is a parasitic killing machine from space, he isn’t a dynamic character. The “symbiote” cannot make for a compelling protagonist of a film. This is partially remedied by the soft-spoken freelance reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy): Venom’s alter ego. Once infected, Brock and Venom share a constant internal back-and-forth. Although it doesn’t always work, it is within the dynamic of these two characters (both portrayed by Hardy) that the film gains a majority of its acclaim.
Eddie Brock lives in a nice home in San Francisco, drives a motorcycle, and is engaged to his loving fiancé Anne (Michelle Williams) a rowdy blonde with a short fuse, and operates an online news known as “The Eddie Brock Report.” The central conflict of the film begins when Eddie’s given the task to interview young and ambitious billionaire and founder of the Life Foundation, Carlton Drake, on his space exploration program, one of whose rockets recently crash landed on Earth carrying Venom and other alien symbiotes unbeknownst to him. Eddie confronts Drake about the dead astronauts during the interview using information he steals from Anne’s laptop (who happens to be a lawyer for the Life Foundation), which promptly results him and his fiancé both losing their jobs, ending their engagement. The film then inexplicably fast-forwards 6 months to Eddie living in a much more underdeveloped part of time where it appears to be almost perpetually desolate, gloomy, and nighttime His fall from grace is almost complete until he is reached by Life Foundation scientist Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) who wants him to write an expose piece on Carlton Drake’s human tests of a human-symbiote bond using homeless people. Eddie breaks back in the Life Foundation labs to find evidence when he is attacked by a homeless woman he frees, unwittingly becoming Venom’s new host. After the bond, Drake will stop at nothing to get his “property” back from Brock who has begun hearing a deep, guttural voice encouraging him to eat strange delicacies like human livers and alley-cats. Drake eventually becomes bonded with a symbiote of his own that calls itself “Riot” (who is in essence just a larger, slightly grayer version of Venom) and the chase is on.
The motivations, backstories, and designs of the villain(s) are so drab and played out that the audience has little choice but to support Venom and Eddie as they learn to co-habituate one head-space. Hardy’s meek, reserved portrayal of Brock versus his blunt and vulgar inner dialogue as Venom accentuates a sharp contrast between the characters and creates some interesting juxtaposition. For instance, in one scene shortly after he is infected, Eddie seeks help from Anne and her new boyfriend (Reid Scott) while they eat lunch at an upscale lobster restaurant. Eddie enters looking like battered hell with Venom demanding that he eats everything in sight. Seeing Eddie struggle with the social expectations of an environment like that whilst be influenced by the primal, alien urges of Venom makes for one of the most entertaining scenes of the movie that eventually lands Eddie inside the lobster tank, munching on live lobster. Unfortunately, like many others, this scene ends on a jarring cut that comes in the middle of what seems to be more dialogue.
Besides brief moments of levity like this, Venom is mostly just generic action scenes of the hulking alien suit fighting off waves of faceless mercenaries. The final showdown between Venom and Riot is equally as dull, with two incredibly similar super beings going at it in rubbery CGI akin to 2003’s Daredevil or the worst part of this year’s Black Panther. Unsurprisingly, a post-credits scene heavily implies the development of a sequel, which we can only hope learns from the shortcomings of this film and exploits its strengths.
Nickolai, N. (2018, October 03). 'Venom' Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying. Retrieved October 14, 2018, from https://variety.com/2018/film/news/venom-reviews-round-up-critics-1202966964/’
Kenny, G. (2018, October 04). Review: In 'Venom,' Tom Hardy as a Weirder-Than-Usual, Not-Quite Superhero. Retrieved October 15, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/04/movies/venom-review-tom-hardy.html
Leadbeater, A. (2018, October 11). Venom's Bad Reviews Completely Misunderstood Venom. Retrieved October 14, 2018, from https://screenrant.com/venom-movie-bad-reviews-wrong/