The Venom movie is without a doubt one of the most talked about movies of 2018. While it’s no Black Panther or Infinity Wars, Venom is a film which has been buzzing around for quite some time now. For better or worse, Venom stands solely under the Sony brand and has no connection to Spider-man or the MCU. While it raised some red flags among fans and critics, we prefer to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Yes Venom is yet another origin story film. In the age of superhero media no less where its becoming increasingly difficult to impress with new characters. That said, Venom deserves a chance to stand or fail on its own merit and leave its own impression.
We are Venom
Venom focuses on investigative journalist Eddie Brock played by Tom Hardy as he looks into the LIFE Foundation run by Riz Ahmed’s Carlton Drake. After digging a little too deep to get his story, Eddie loses everything including his then fiance, Anne Weying played by Michelle Williams. As Eddie continues to dig, he finds that the LIFE foundation has discovered alien life, the Symbiotes. Drake, genius that he is, aims to bond human and symbiote to improve humanity to allow for survival and eventually migration into space – because nothing ever goes wrong with illegal human genetic experimentation.
As Eddie gets drawn deeper into his investigate, he encounters and inadvertently bonds with one of the symbiotes at which point the movie really begins. From this point we play out the storyline of Carlton Drake’s brilliant experiments going horribly wrong – shocker! -and learn that the Symbiotes have their own nefarious plan for earth. The only ones able to stand in their way are the dynamic duo of Venom and Eddie Brock.
A Heroic Antihero
As far as origin stories go, Venom actually does a pretty good job. The movie has a lot working against it, especially as they do their best to unravel the Venom characters from his Spider-man origins. It’s a little hard to imagine a world where the famed anti-hero exist without his web crawling adversary. The apparent solution was to take the “anti” out of the antihero.
The writing and direction of the movie is respectful to the character’s origins however it manages to still be its own and invite newcomers who know nothing about Venom the jump into the excitement without thought. The movie makes a great hero origin story that everyone can appreciate, even though it seems to forget that Venom isn’t actually supposed to be a hero.
It’s hard to write a bad guy as the main character. Especially when you need to give him some challenge to face that gets you to root for him. However, when the movie essentially boils down to Venom saving the world, the harsher edges to the character appear none existent. The choices don’t feel personal or selfish or self motivated. There doesn’t seem to be a challenge to get the symbiote to “do the right thing”. While they managed to make it work, the fact that such a dark character shows nearly no darkness at all still works against the movie.
Tom Hardy the Hyper Carry
Getting into the movie itself, things start off slow and dull. A bit of this is to be expected from an origins story. World building and character establishment needing to be done. That said, there’s really nothing riveting about the first third of the film. Thing drag on for a bit right up until Venom and Eddie finally become one. It’s honestly not an exaggeration to say Tom Hardy carried this movie wholeheartedly.
The Anne character turns out to be a bit more than just the (ex)girlfriend and Ahmed’s Carlton Drake makes a compelling sociopathic mad scientist. Despite the interesting characters and quality acting throughout, the movie begins and ends with Tom Hardy’s Eddie/Venom portrayal. Eddie Brock on his own is charming, witty and hilarious. There is something so genuine and real about the character that Hardy manages to bring to life. The character feels so relatable, as if its someone you know, that if you weren’t a Tom Hardy fan before, you’d definitely be head over heels before the credits roll.
Hardy plays ‘am-I-losing-my-mind’ like no ones business. From the food scenes to the freak outs, he just draws you in. By the time the bike chase comes along – if you’ve seen the movie you know the one – there’s no denying the appeal. The interaction between the duo is so comically complementary that you’re more entertained that anything when Venom bites a guy’s head off and Eddie looks ready to puke afterwards.
Be it the writers, direction or acting, the characters in the movie come across with a relatability that is soothing. Even so, most don’t break the wall, remaining two dimensional at best. Hardy himself outshines everyone and everything, however, you’d be a fool not to recognize the quality of the support characters. Even Reid Scott’s Dr. Dan, Anne’s new boyfriend, is an entertaining and lovable addition.
Every character the show spends time on feeds the story in some way so there isn’t much wasted time. While entertaining however, we can’t overlook the downfalls. We were promised something dark and gritty with some moral ambiguity. What we got is a hilarious buddy cop hero movie. It does deliver some badassery, but aside from a few jokes about eating people there’s not much to hint that Venom is anything other than the latest hero on the block.
The Venom movie delivers, if not what we were promised. Its highly entertaining. With a great cast, smart direction and banter to die for. You’re sure to have a good time if you go check this one out. That said, leave all your expectations at the door. The trailers and ads tell a completely different story from the one we actually got. Comic fans are definitely going to be a bit turned around. There’s nothing that dark or gritty about it. There aren’t really any moral issues to add depth to the story or characters. It’s just a fun time once it gets going.
Venom is just another superhero origin story in the age of superhero movies. The only standout to write home about is Tom Hardy and the excellent writing for his role.