by Philip Jean-Pierre
Basically: Lives in danger! A planet at risk! Eddie Brock, reporter, do-gooder, journeyman loser, proves not every hero wears a cape…and this movie shows us there is a reason for that.
In 1988, David Michelinie, Jim Salicrup and Todd McFarlane, possibly drunk off San Diego Comic Con bathtub gin, created ‘Venom’. His true origin story is a convoluted mess…like these things usually are in comics. However you are welcome to ignore that because mercifully this movie did. For those who are curious, Venom’s intended purpose was to be Spider-Man’s ultimate arch nemesis—the Joker to Spider-Man’s Batman. The movie also ignores the character’s important connection to the webslinger’s personal life, a fact for which I am sure Peter Parker is grateful.
Photo: Columbia Pictures
Watching this movie is like a very clumsy attempt to slip in through the backdoor of Marvel/Disney and steal what loose change might have fallen to the ground after the release of their true franchise movies. The plan might have worked had the movie not broken Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and Venom (Tom Hardy) away from their initial origins in the world of Spider-Man to focus on the idea of Eddie Brock/Venom as rebels without a cause. With no connection or context, the valuable foundation that could have propelled this character into true cult status died before filming began. A lesson the creators of Deadpool knew immediately, when they cashed in on the vague continuity of their character and his connection to the X-Men. While some may argue that I’m just a comic-book purist being a purist, without a tangible link to the MCU this relatively obscure character essentially becomes a tale of a guy with a parasitic “vampire fish” that sneaks into his personal crevices—or is the plural crevici? Doesn’t matter, in this movie uncomfortable crevices are the least of Mr. Brock’s worries. As Mrs. Chen (Peggy Lu) says in the movie “Life Hurts”…and so did this.
As expected Tom Hardy was the bright spot. He pulls double duty first as the titular Eddie Brock, a man out of his depth who is a hot whiskey soaked mess after a failure. Second, Hardy voices Venom, the dark body-snatching parasite with a penchant for meat and violence. The chemistry between Brock and Venom is fun to watch. That’s right I said it, Tom Hardy has great chemistry with himself. That might seem like a no-brainer but the ability to create two-distinct personalities who are both charismatic enough to share time on the screen and break the moment is a testament to the actor and his craft. Normally that would be enough for some but interactions with Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), Brock’s love interest, adds a layer of depth and humor for all involved.
Photo: Columbia Pictures
In truth the missteps of this movie are too numerous to count: the writing despite a brilliant cast, the stunning visual effects of DNeg, and what I imagine had to be excellent craft services, becomes cliché, plodding and gives us a laughable “villain” in the character of Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). Ahmed, despite being given a character who feels like a more petulant Elon Musk with delusions of Tony Stark, strives to add a salient importance to the character. He is after all the ‘bad guy’. What good is he if he can’t shred scenes with an epic gravitas? Sadly, that is one of the many questions the writers neglected to explore.
Venom is a sad bag of fail that will weigh you down like Santa Claus’ satchel of anti-gifts. However, as you watch this calamity a certain zen calm showers your soul because there is a freedom that comes after the realization that at some point even the writers just said, “Fuck it.” to this movie.
In the End: Don’t forget to stay for the two post-credit scenes.
We have a whole lotta thoughts on Venom…read Drew’s review now!