Now that superhero movies are the main draw at the box office, it makes sense that superhero movies will start to vary from quality, tone and execution. Movies such as The Dark Knight, Avengers Infinity: War and Logan aim for high regard and garner quality praise. Venom is not one of these movies and it is completely fine with that.
In a lot of reviews that have come out about the movie, the critics cite that the movie feels like a 90’s or early 2000’s movie but I would argue that is the exact reason why so many people were attracted to this movie. There’s nothing wrong with the Superhero genre growing up a little but sometimes the audience needs a movie that lets you revel in its dumb fun.
A simplified version of the plot is that it follows Eddie Brock, a sensationalist reporter who specializes in “gotcha” journalism. He recovers shady information about Carlton Drake, the CEO of the Life Foundation and sloppily tries to expose him on his show. The plan backfires and he loses his job and his fiance in the process. A scientist at the foundation comes to Brock to ask for his help in exposing what is really going on at Drake’s facility. At the facility, Drake is testing symbiotes on homeless volunteers. Brock is able to break in to help expose the truth but gets infected by one of the symbiotes. Brock becomes bonded with this symbiote who calls itself “Venom”. Together they work to stop Drake and the symbiote who bonded with him, “Riot”. As you can predict, Brock and Venom work together to save the world.
For a movie like this, plot isn’t what gives the movie its charm. Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock (and doing the voice and some of the motion work for the Venom creature) is where the movie mainly shines. Brock is portrayed as a opportunistic semi-loser but not slimy enough to completely alienate the audience. He seems like a person who made one too many mistake trying to get ahead and the movie follows him while he is in his lowest moments. Writing Spider-Man out of his origin was a risky proposition for a lot of longtime Venom fans, but keeping his personality and the way Brock constantly tries to blame everyone else for his mistakes was a smart decision for the movie to jump from and let the character grow from there.
In contrast to some of his other movies, Hardy seems like is genuinely having fun in the role. The interactions between Brock and Venom are genuinely hilarious with Brock almost acting as a conscience for the two of them and the symbiote acting as the impulsive voice we have all have in our head, apart from, you know, wanting to eat people like the creature does. The dynamic created for a fun back and forth made you root for both characters throughout the movie.
Some of the pain points in the plot that even the director acknowledged recently. In order for the audience to feel like Eddie is really at his lowest, the movie had to go into a random-ish time jump of six months in the first part of the movie. This caused some of the other story elements to go into misalignment in some points but, honestly it wasn’t a tremendous distraction during the course of the movie.
The biggest thing about the movie PG-13 rating was that it really couldn’t have the most fun it had the potential to have. When Venom kills some of the bad guys, it seems like the blood was removed completely, making some scenes a little ambiguous as to if he even did anything at all. The hope is that they can let loose with the sequel but some early reports say that the sequel may stick with a PG-13 rating as well. That’s going to be a problem if they want to use Cleatus Cassidy A.K.A “Carnage” which the post credit scene of this movie promises us will come next. There are only a few characters in Marvel comics that scream for a Hard-R rating and Cassidy is definitely at the top of the heap.
The movie overall appeals to the teenagers in us. It asks us to laugh in its juvenile charm and remember the days of silly action movies that seem to have fallen to the wayside.
Rating: 3.5/5 Venom Tongues.