Venom was constantly popping up in my feed for the past week. I’m a casual fan of Spider-Man, having grown up with the 1994 animated series. I was excited when they announced that Venom, a major villain/anti-hero from that series, would be getting his own movie. Before we get into the review, here’s just a little heads up that I’m not a comic book enthusiast or even a Marvel one, for that matter. I just enjoy a good movie when I see one. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at my personal views on Venom. This review will contain minor spoilers, so to sum up, I’d say it’s a decent move to catch at the cinema at half-price or student price. If you would like to know the answer to “Is Venom Bad?”, stick around.
A Solid Story
(Contains plot points of the opening half-hour or so.)
Despite not having Spider-Man included, the lore of the Venom cinematic universe holds up surprisingly well. The movie revolves around Eddie Brock, who works as a hard-boiled reporter. He goes to great lengths and risks to expose the secrets of his targets. He lives a good life with his fiancee, who works for a firm until his boss gives him the assignment to interview Carlton Drake, who is the CEO of the Life Foundation. Being a very controversial figure, Brock exploits his sources to gain information on Drake, and on the day of the interview, ‘interrogates’ Drake on his allegations. Drake, as powerful a figure as he is controversial, gets Brock fired.
His fiancee, having being fired because Brock used information regarding Drake stored in her personal email, leaves him. From there, Brock’s life starts falling apart. This all sums up to be a pretty good backstory to Eddie Brock for his standalone movie and is executed fairly well if you can bear all the initial chit-chat. The movie does well to keep the boredom at bay, however, as we occasionally follow the journey of the Symbiote Riot, who escaped containment from Carlton’s spaceship.
Where things pick up (or slow down)
Hitting the rock bottom of his life, Eddie pursues his initial investigation on Drake with the help of an undercover source. Depending on what type of person you are, it’s here where things either get more interesting or starts growing stale. During his investigation, Eddie accidentally sets the Symbiote Venom free, and subsequently bonds with him. From this point on, the action is plentiful and doesn’t feel like mindless action sequences, as each battle carries a meaningful objective. However, the story-telling does feel a bit cluttered from this point on, and the carefully written characters slowly lose the interest of the movie as it shifts to Venom, which is arguably the poorest written character next to the lead-henchman, who is so forgettable I can’t recall his name. Regardless, the pace and lore of the movie still stay true to what it initially set up, keeping it bearable.
I’m not an extreme movie junkie, and I can’t really distinguish excellent CGI from good CGI. However, as a casual, I can fairly say that the CGI-based action sequences in Venom were alright. Every move and fight scene was easy for my eyes to catch and comprehend, and it was entertaining to witness. In too many movies does it have constant perspective switching to give a more ‘dynamic’ scene, and thankfully, wasn’t the case in Venom.
Speaking of CGI, Venom and Riot looked honestly pretty great to me. You may have seen other reviews where they criticized the CGI models, but I honestly loved the look. They were BIG, and that already made it so much better than Spider-Man 3’s Venom. It has much better CGI compared to Deadpool 2, which despite being an entertaining movie, reeks of low-budget. There are a variety of fight scenes that aren’t too similar to the fight scene before it, which keeps things interesting and worth the stay.
I liked almost all of the characters. Each character holds logical and reasonable interactions with the other characters. It doesn’t feel forced or unnaturally ‘perfect’. Eddie and Ann may not have been a couple with the best chemistry, but interact with each other well enough to convince you they were in love. After their falling out, they interacted in a way that seemed natural for two adults. This was crucial in Venom’s story progression.
Without spoiling too much, almost all of these characters had this ‘natural nature’ to their engagement and interactions. The lead-henchman, however, feels, underused? Perhaps ‘very under-written’ suits his character better. He is merely a test-of-strength checkpoint for Venom before the final adversary. If he is actually from the comics, let us know in the comments below.
In my opinion, aside from the aforementioned, the Symbiotes are also characters that were quite poorly utilized aside from providing cinematic action sequences. The ‘back-and-forth’s between Venom and Brock provide for some humorous moments, but often fall flat. Riot, on the other hand, has clear motivations, but with it comes a lack of screen time and backstory. Here, I actually felt the amount of untapped potential the movie had.
The Movie’s Main Problem
With a lot of good going for the movie, such as the acting, characters, and premise, it’s really disappointing that its flaws lie within its main focus, the Symbiotes. Venom is an almost laughably terribly written character with a few scenes here and there to redeem himself. His character gets more and more confusing, and not in the good sense, towards the end of the movie. At one point, Venom claims his motivation is due to his resonance with Brock, claiming himself to ‘also be a loser’. Added with about three lines of bare-boned backstory, the producers can’t really expect me to feel for the alien. The sad part is you’d have to, at one point in your life, be an actual loser to fully understand and relate to Venom’s motivations.
For a story that is meant to expose and dissect the titular character, we only got half of it with Eddie Brock. The other alien half felt rather poorly handled (to me) and not given enough focus. Is Venom bad for this reason alone? Not entirely. Long-time and experienced movie critics do, however, have enough to go on to give this movie a low score. Marvel fans, however, have a fresh new perspective on the character that has an adequate amount to go on.
Seeing that Tom Hardy has signed on for a trilogy of Symbiote movies, it’s not impossible to say that everything lacking in this movie is meant to be covered in the upcoming films. Given the movie’s stingers, we’ll hopefully be getting more faithful, deeper Venom-based cinematic lore in the future. The movie does set up a potentially good franchise but at the cost of a slightly dull movie.