Check out our review of the new movie ‘Venom’, which seems to prove that not all comic book movies are actually a good idea…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
There was always a healthy skepticism about Sony’s idea to create a universe of films based on characters from the Spider-Man universe that may or may not actually involve the webslinger himself.
The first of those films lands in theaters on Friday as ‘Venom’ features Tom Hardy in the starring role as reporter Eddie Brock, who soon finds himself sharing head space with an alien symbiote named Venom. You have to go back to 2007’s laughably bad ‘Spider-Man 3’ to find another version of this character — that time played by Topher Grace — and that movie was so terrible most people don’t even remember Venom was in there.
Fast forward to 2018 and comic book movies are constant box office smashes but there’s just one problem — only Marvel Studios seems to have figured out the formula to churn out at least halfway likable films every time they release something into theaters. Even the less watchable movies like ‘Thor: The Dark World’ or ‘Iron Man 3’ still had somewhat redeeming qualities and both films eventually made good with sequels like ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ or in Iron Man’s case, his appearances in ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and eventually ‘Avengers: Infinity War’.
Sadly, Sony has laid no such groundwork to get that kind of goodwill when it comes to ‘Venom’ because in reality the studio barely had a hand in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ because they shared that movie — both creatively and financially — with Marvel Studios.
‘Venom’ is a sole Sony creation and this muddied mess of CGI, horrible plot and truly cringe worthy dialogue is a not so subtle reminder that it takes the right kind of filmmaker to create a great comic book movie.
Kevin Feige over at Marvel has the Midas touch. The Russo brothers are as good as gold. Even Christopher Nolan through a couple of missteps still made award worthy comic book movies.
Unfortunately, Sony’s combination of Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) and a screenwriting trio led by Jeff Pinkner couldn’t even come close to producing a halfway decent version of ‘Venom’ much less give stars Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams much to work with over the course of two hours.
With that said, let’s get to our review of ‘Venom’ — out in theaters on Friday, Oct. 5….
Eddie Brock is an investigative journalist working in San Francisco and living with his attorney girlfriend named Anne when he gets the opportunity to interview a visionary billionaire named Carlton Drake, who is the ‘Venom’ version of Elon Musk. Unfortunately, Eddie’s nose for news gets him into hot water and he ends up getting a little too deep into this story as he tries to bring down Drake for no particular reason. In the midst of all this happening, Drake, as the evil scientist in this mess of a plot, is secretly importing alien beings called symbiotes in hopes of discovering the secret for humans to survive in deep space travel to another planet.
Needless to say, Drake’s plan goes awry and Eddie ends up smack dab in the middle of his nefarious plans when he gets married to one of these symbiotes — a particularly nasty oil slick looking creature called Venom, who has incredible abilities and remains hungry at all times, which seems to be a gag in this movie but it’s kind of tough to tell. Either way, once Eddie joins forces with Venom he’s pitted against Drake, who is desperate to get back his property from this meddling reporter.
As good as Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed are as actors, they only have so much to work with here.
The plot and dialogue are so terrible that you nearly cringe watching these fine actors deliver their lines.
There were moments during this movie where I actually felt bad for Williams, who is a multi-time Oscar nominated actress best known for more serious dramatic roles. Considering the kind of chops she has on screen, it’s a shame that Williams ended up in a forgettable film like ‘Venom’ as opposed to a better role in a high profile Marvel Studios movie like Brie Larson will do when she stars as ‘Captain Marvel’.
Hardy does the best he can while mostly acting as a one-man show, spending most of this movie talking to the voice inside his own head. There are several weird moments caught between drama and comedy where you can’t be certain if you’re laughing at the poorly timed jokes or if you’re just laughing at the movie itself because it is actually just bad.
Even all time greats like Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep have made bad movies before so you can’t blame Hardy and Williams for what happened in ‘Venom’.
Directing and Writing
Everything about this film should have screamed for a better script and more coherent direction but neither thing happened before ‘Venom’ landed in theaters.
Fleischer will best be remembered for his work on ‘Zombieland’ and his upcoming direction in ‘Zombieland 2’, but the majority of his work hasn’t been as high profile. He seems to thrive in a more comedic setting, which he tries to pull off with ‘Venom’ but the tone and the subject matter seem to be more serious than what actually happens during this movie.
As far as the script goes, the plot in this movie is so thin that you can see through it.
There’s absolutely no character development because the movie spends so much time parading around as a buddy cop action film with Eddie talking to his new pal Venom that the screenwriters forgot to actually give anybody a personality in this film. If you were hoping to be charmed by Williams playing his girlfriend, just go ahead and get that out of your head right now.
Williams’ Anne is such a one-note character that outside of a couple of moments in this film — that were honestly unnecessary — she serves no purpose in the plot whatsoever outside of being the prerequisite ‘girlfriend’ to the lead.
It’s just tough to imagine how anybody read this script and then said ‘this is a good idea’.
What’s Wrong with the Movie?
As a devoted and lifelong fan of Spider-Man and the huge cast of characters that surround him, I wanted to like ‘Venom’ but the movie just fails to deliver on every possible level. The plot is bad, the dialogue is worse and the effects look like something from 15 years ago.
Remember, Venom as a character was always at his best when he was opposing Spider-Man as a villain, but because he was popular with comic book readers, the need to turn him into an anti-hero was inevitable. Now sadly Venom may never actually get to meet Tom Holland’s Spider-Man but given what happened in this film, that’s probably better for everybody involved.
‘Venom’ gets a one out of five on the Skolnick scale.