FILM REVIEW: VENOM
BY KYLE ARANGO
Superhero and comic book movies are the most popular genre in Hollywood today. They have evolved so much from where they once were back in the 90s and before. 2018 has been a great year for them so far with Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Ant-Man and the Wasp all being exceptional entries. However, there always seems to be at least one stinker every year that adds a stink to the genre. Is Venom going to be that stinker of 2018? Yes, but no at the same time. This is going to be one of those films that has passionate defenders and angry critics. Strangely enough, this film was a blast.
Venom is a film based off the comic book villain from Marvel who is considered to be one of, if not the greatest Spider-Man villain. The film is about this man named Eddie Brock who is a reporter who exposes corruption. When he tries to expose a scientist for illegal human testing, his life is destroyed. An accident leads to him being bonded with what is called a symbiote at the research lab which is an alien creature that needs a compatible host in order to survive. It looks like goo and can do incredible things. From there Eddie finds himself in the middle of his personal struggles and the fate of those he loves. If that plot sounds confusing, it really isn’t once you see the movie. They kind of just throw out any logic or sense of realism out the window and only keep what they find necessary. That is not to say that it is dumbed down rather you just don’t care as much because you are focused on the interactions between Venom and Eddie Brock. This film by all accounts is awful, but I cannot deny that I had a great time with it.
What is so fascinating about Venom is that I’m not sure whether the film did or did not know what it wanted to be. There are moments that are hysterical in what I am now considering to be intentional. You will find yourself laughing with the movie, not at it. It has a cheesy B-movie feel to it that is so lovable and you can’t help but love it when you know you shouldn’t. At some moments it wants to be an action film and at others a comedy but what ends up coming out is a laughably self-aware buddy cop movie that is also a commentary on the comic book genre. Ever since Christopher Nolan, Kevin Feige, and Jon Favreau changed the comic book genre back in 2008, the standard to which these films are held has rose exponentially. This is to the point where a different comic book film like Venom will be chastised for just trying to be that different one. If this movie were to come out in the 1990’s, people would love it. I can’t tell if director Ruben Fleischer was going for this tone but based on his previous films (Zombieland) and comments about this being a buddy-cop adventure comedy, I’d say he knew what he was doing.
What works the most in Venom is its star Tom Hardy. Tom Hardy gave a performance in this film that will be studied in film schools and it may be one of his best. Hardy plays Eddie Brock and is also the voice of Venom. Tom Hardy was allowed to improvise many of his scenes between he and Venom and with that knowledge as well as knowing he voices Venom, it makes the film so much better. The chemistry Tom Hardy has with himself is something I never thought I would mention but it is the key to this movie. The effects are terrible, the dialogue is horrendous, and the plot is a complete mess, but Tom Hardy’s performance is spectacular, and you can feel how much fun he had in this role oozing off the screen. It is a shame that the rest of the cast did not show up to play. Michelle Williams and Jenny Slate are fine, but really bring nothing to the role. Woody Harrelson has one unintentionally hilarious scene that I could not get enough of. Riz Ahmed is the one who is the most disappointing. Not many things hurt a film more than an actor who does not care and does not try. He is lifeless and clearly did not like the film he signed up for. Chalk him up as forgettable villain number 54 who you will forget was in here in a month. Had it not been for Tom Hardy, the film would’ve completely sunk.
Venom is a messy clunker of a film that is terrible in many aspects but is completely elevated by its self-awareness and its star. You will be delighted by the relationship between Venom and Eddie Brock played by Tom Hardy. I will be in the minority of this film and you will probably hate it, but I will not deny that this was a blast to watch. Venom is not a turd in the wind, it is a Turd in a sundae with a Tom Hardy shaped cherry on top.