- Movie Rating -

Venom (2018)

| October 4, 2018

Here is a confession.  I am nearly absent of any knowledge of the Marvel Comics character called Venom.  I know that he has an affiliation with Spider-Man but that’s about it.  Having seen his movie, I have to say, I find him interesting if not entirely appetizing.  He looks a little like Spider-Man crossed with a lizard dipped in black tar.  He has a pointed tongue that apparently can extend 12-feet out of his spike-toothed maw and his body can shape shift into pretty much any shape that he wants.  OH!  And he’s a parasite, although according this movie you’re not supposed to call him that.  He has a separation anxiety issue that is due largely to the fact that the only way he can survive is to attach himself to a human host.  Fortunately for this dum-dum creature-feature, he spends most of his time attached to Tom Hardy.

Hardy is really the reason to see Venom.  The best parts are built largely on his unique talents as an actor – you never see him playing the same character twice and here he seems to have created a new persona for himself.  Unlike the kingly Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, Eddie Brock is sort of insular; an outsider who feels for his fellow man and has a soft-spot for the down-trodden.

His heartfelt humanity is in constant conflict with the personality that has infested his mind and body.  Venom is a blood-thirsty blob of alien goo that has been brought to Earth and subsists on attaching itself to whichever host body is closest.  When he gets inside your head you can hear him talk to you and he can mold and reshape your body at will.  The problem for Eddie Brock is that he (rightfully) thinks that he should be in control since it’s his body, but Venom disagrees.  Eddie and Venom are at odds with how to handle a violent situation because the latter’s solution is to simply bite people’s heads off.  This isn’t something that Eddie thinks that he could easily live with, psychologically-speaking.

The relationship between the two is really the film’s center and it’s quite entertaining.  Unfortunately, there’s a story to be told and it’s not exactly original.  In fact, there’s something oddly familiar about the tone of this film.  It has a kind of late 90s/early-2000s feel of movies like Blade and Spawn and Daredevil, superhero movies made before Iron Man and Batman Begins reformatted the genre into a universe-building art-form.  But Venom it isn’t colorful, it isn’t bombastic, it isn’t epic and that’s not a good thing.  Away from the relationship between Eddie and Venom, the story is substandard and really kind of dull.

There’s a nefarious scientist named Drake (Riz Ahmed from Rogue One) who is using poor people to test the black goo and he has a flock of leather-coated goons who end up chasing Eddie down when he inadvertently becomes attached to it.  Eddie has a girlfriend named Anne (Michelle Williams) who has left him but is not unsympathetic to what he’s going through.  Blah Blah Blah.  Plug in obligatory clichés here.

The obligatory beats of the plot just get in the way of the interesting stuff.  Up to a certain point, the movie really is just about Eddie and his world.  His compassion for the poor and the downcast extends to his job as an investigative reporter – rooting out the scum and corruption that he sees all around him.  We are introduced to the San Francisco neighborhood that he calls home, with its tight community and all-night mom and pop shops, we really feel that we are in a specific place.

Unfortunately, the movie loses that personal touch once the faceless goons come banging on Eddie’s door.  After the film’s midway point, the story goes on autopilot.  The ending is particularly confusing.  Reportedly Sony Pictures trimmed 45-minutes from the film in order to get it to down at a PG-13 rating.  That’s not only a dumb move, it’s also a detriment to the film because it renders the movie’s third-act almost completely incomprehensible.  Motivations become unclear.  Plot elements spring up out of nowhere and the climactic battle scene is impossible to follow.  Taking place at night, the combatants flail indecipherable limbs and sinew at one another with no real orientation of what we are seeing.  The scene has been cut and edited so badly that I’m not even sure if the bad guy actually died!  The movie ends on a baffling anti-climax – the “turd in the wind” scene that you saw in the trailer which feels like it should have come much earlier.  Was this movie edited with a blender?

Why?  Why cut the guts out of the movie?  And why do it in such a shoddy way.  The two Deadpool movies have proven that a violent R-rated superhero picture can draw crowds of adults.  Why mangle the film in this way?  What are they afraid of?  What violent content do they think will be harmful to the nation’s youth?  This is the first time that I’ve met this Venom character up close and personal, and even I can tell you that he deserves better.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2018) View IMDB Filed in: Action