As I reflect on 2018, I realized that it was a good year for Spider-Man. He had some of the funniest and most memorable moments from “Avengers: Infinity War,” a fantastic video game adaptation and an animated film that might be the best Spidey film I’ve seen (a review of that is coming soon).
However there was one blight on the webslinger’s year, or so I had heard. I wanted to see “Venom” when it hit theaters, but most people I knew didn’t like it, and the reviews were pretty bad for it, so I figured I’d wait for it to come out on DVD.
Then, during winter break I decided to give the movie a watch with my brother and was shocked at what I saw. I liked “Venom” quite a bit, and it certainly didn’t deserve all the hate it got, including being on people’s worst of lists for 2018.
The film centers around Eddie Brock, a slacker journalist who has a serious case of foot in mouth disease. He has good intentions and motivations in trying to stop corruption, but he goes too far when he interviews Carlton Drake, CEO of the Life Foundation and brings up legal issues that only his fiance, attorney Anne Weying, knew.
Due to his conduct and the fact that he couldn’t back up his claims with evidence, he loses his job, Anne breaks up with him, and no one will hire him. This all happens within the first 15 minutes of the film.
Meanwhile, Drake’s foundation has found four samples of symbiotes from space, and one escapes. One of the other ones die due to carelessness and Drake is frantic to get them to work with humans.
A disgraced journalist living poor and jaded, Eddie meets with a scientist from the foundation and she takes him to the facility to take pictures of the destruction and death testing has caused.
Of course, Eddie lets one of the symbiotes out and it bonds to him. In the chaos, the scientist is captured and later killed, and Eddie escapes with the symbiote and becomes public enemy number one.
From there, this movie becomes a lot of fun. Eddie is playing a constant cat and mouse game, running away from Drake’s forces. He turns to the only person he trusts, Anne and her new boyfriend, Dan, for help.
Through it all, he hears a voice that tells him what to do or remarks on his current situation. It calls itself Venom and every interaction between them is funny.
Eddie needs to work together with the suit to survive the pursuit of Drake’s men, as well as stop Drake’s nefarious plan to destroy the world.
The action in this movie is fantastic, as a very long chase scene in the middle of the film is quite entertaining. Seeing the symbiote save Eddie from precarious situations was awesome.
Also, the actual design and look of Venom is fantastic. This is what the “Spider-Man 3” Venom should have looked like. He is terrifying, carrying a large frame and imposing sharp teeth and the long, disgusting tongue found in most comics based on the character.
In terms of the acting, Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed do a serviceable job as Anne and Drake, respectively. Drake’s character isn’t really that interesting to me, but that’s the fault of the script.
However, the real star here is Tom Hardy as both Eddie Brock and Venom. He has such a nervous energy, and makes some interesting noises throughout the movie. He takes a character that could’ve been pretty boring or unlikeable and made me care for him.
I was invested in all the crazy antics he was doing, be it jumping off a tall building or taking a dip in a lobster tank at a fancy restaurant to cool off.
Overall, I quite enjoyed “Venom.” It isn’t in the upper-echelon of superhero films and it doesn’t need to be. It was a fun movie with a great central character, an amazing performance by Tom Hardy and exciting action scenes.
It’s the most faithful film adaptation of the character we’ve seen (though that’s not a really high bar).
However, the movie currently sits at a 28% score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 35 out of 100 on Metacritic. Whenever I mention the movie to others you can sense their disgust.
While I can agree that the movie was pretty average, why is there such vitriol spewed against it? It’s nowhere near as bad as say “Batman vs Superman” or “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”
It’s running time flew by quickly, and the tone bounced between serious and light. By all means, this was a solid 6/10 “popcorn” movie.
My main theory on why people hate this movie is just because 6/10 isn’t good enough. People want to see a Venom movie that sits at the same level of stuff like “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
Superhero movies are so loved nowadays, and 2018 was such a good year for the genre that anything less than changing the game was going to be scrutinized.
Also, consider the fact that people have been obsessing over seeing a good live action Venom ever since “Spider-Man 3” (and before, as Hollywood has tried to make a movie based on the character since 1997) and it makes sense that expectations would be high.
Then, add in the fact that this would be a Venom movie without the character central to the symbiote, Spider-Man. Many fans, me included, thought this would cripple the movie greatly.
This made people mad. Another issue was that the marketing for the film wasn’t the best. All the trailers I saw made this film look boring and dark. It didn’t help that the first trailer didn’t even feature Venom.
They definitely should’ve played up the buddy comedy aspect of Eddie and the suit learning to work together before the film’s release. They actually did this when promoting the film’s release to DVD.
Given all these things, it’s easy to see why people wrote this movie off as a cash grab and another failed attempt by Sony to create a universe based on all the Spider-Man characters they have beside the wall-crawler.
However, it’s difficult to call “Venom” anything but a success. It exceeded expectations at the box office, having the highest October opening weekend ever ($80 million) and making $855 million dollars worldwide.
Also, the film teases the key character Cletus Kasady in the mid-credits scene, and given the financial success of the movie, it’s clear we will get a sequel to this film soon, and honestly, I’m all for it.
In conclusion, “Venom” has flaws. The beginning of the film is slow, the villain isn’t very compelling, the ending feels rushed and there are points where the script doesn’t land.
Yet this film does have some things going for it. Tom Hardy is a joy to watch as Eddie Brock, Venom looks awesome, the action is a lot of fun and the story kept me hooked.
So if you’re interested in this movie, I recommend you give it a watch. Just temper your expectations and realize this movie isn’t on the level of an MCU film and I think you’ll find something to enjoy here.