Movie Review: “Venom” – Not-so-Toxic Waste

Written by Matt Butler November 12, 2018

venom

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie like this in theatres. Something so awful that it’s almost wonderful. Not quite ‘so bad it’s good’, more like ‘just dumb enough that it might as well be fun’. What holds Venom back from its potentially spectacular awfulness is a lack of consistency. Venom has its moments of intentional and unintentional hilarity, but they’re spread thin amongst dull characters, mishmashed tones, and a confused plot. The only thing Venom gets right is its titular character, which is just enough to keep my attention.

So here’s the plot: Eddie Brock is a street-smart news reporter who digs deep into the gritty goings-on in Downtown San-Francisco. He’s got a beautiful girlfriend (Michelle Williams), who just so happens to be working for his next big interviewee, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). He’s the CEO of the Life Foundation that wants to lead the world in space and technology. Think Elon Musk meets Harry Osborne. Eddie asks him one controversial question too many, and is subsequently fired for dong his job as a reporter. Sans job and sans girlfriend, Eddie turns to an insider at Life (Jenny Slate) who opens a secret door that quite conveniently unleashed the plot – I mean alien symbiote – onto Eddie, turning him into the big black baddie, Venom. It only took 30 minutes.

“The way I see it, we can do whatever we want.”

So right off the bat, we have a serious pacing issue. It’s as if the movie knows the only fun parts involve Venom himself, so they make everything else as clichéd and simplistic as possible so that we don’t have to spend more than five minutes with any of it. The trouble is, there’s so much cliched and simplistic crap that it stockpiles, and we’re stuck with scene after scene of generic superhero garbage when what we were supposed to get is the antithesis. By the end of the movie, Venom, the malicious alien virus decides, almost on a dime, not to enslave the world, but to save it. The movie’s tagline is “The world has enough superheroes” but they still made him a superhero. If as much attention was paid to the story and supporting cast as it was to Tom Hardy’s performance, then we’d have a solid movie.

What do we have? Well, beneath all this trash, we got one of the funniest buddy comedies I’ve seen in a long time. I’m siding with the majority of critics on this one, Venom/Eddie Brock’s dynamic is really fun, and easily the best part of the film. Their back and forth is sharp, hilarious and at times, even cute. This is due in no small part to Hardy’s skills as a physical actor. This is where his casting makes sense, as his rugged, unkept looks betray the idea of an investigative journalist. No, Hardy’s strength is his mania, as well as his voice (yes, he also voices Venom). If this movie was just these two clowning around for an hour and a half, I’d be more than satisfied.

“Aww, that’s nice.”

As is though, I still think Venom is worth seeing. We all know it could have been better. Tom Hardy knows a good 45 minutes of deleted scenes that could have made it way better.  It’s a slapdash mess filled with hollow characters, and the only character that has any arc does so like they’re flipping a switch. In typical Sony fashion, this one’s a dumpster fire. Untypical of Sony, however, is the lack of Sony product placement. Eddie even types on a MacBook Air. Way to go, Sony! Maybe next time you can make a good movie!

venom

If you’re looking for a film with a similar concept, and a strikingly similar actor, check out Upgrade instead. It’s a techno-thriller about a quadriplegic who gets a chip embedded in his spine that turns him into a superhuman. It’s got a lot of the same physical comedy that makes Venom watchable plus a decent plot. It’s also got Logan Michael Green as the lead, who’s a deadringer for Tom Hardy. Despite how one film is about technology, and the other is about an evil space alien, they’re both Jeykll and Hyde stories about something taking over our bodies. They were also released in the same year. Watch Upgrade, and decide for yourself whether Sony’s got a lawsuit on their hands.

My Rating: 6/10

venom

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About Matt Butler

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is a strapping young English Major with a fiery passion for the art of cinematic storytelling. He likes long walks on the beach and knows the proper use of 'your' and 'you're'. (Example: I hope YOU'RE having a wonderful time browsing our site, and I hope you enjoy YOUR time reading my film reviews. I wrote them just for you.)

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