“Venom” is directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, 30 Minutes Or Less) and stars Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Eddie Brock, a reporter who we as an audience discover is living his life in the city with his partner, but one thing leads to another and he loses everything that’s important to him. At the same time, a symbiote lands on Earth and starts taking over people. A lab got their hands on the material and now they want to do whatever they can with it in regards to experimentation. Also, for those of you who know the comic books, you’d know that Eddie Brock eventually becomes the violent, mind-controlling Venom.
Let me just start this review off by saying I did not want this movie to exist before it came out. My earliest memory of hearing about this movie got me worried just from the concept alone. I had a feeling that comic book movie fatigue was starting to kick in for me after the painfully disappointing “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” and I felt like it was a really weird idea for someone to do a movie revolving around someone many people would associate as technically being a comic book villain. Granted, this movie treats him as a protector (sort of, really an antihero), but still. Then I saw the first couple of trailers, they were, “alright,” but I still was not fully onboard. The trailer we got over the summer however was definitely the best of the bunch. It showed Venom as this dark, crazy being and it made me want more.
That trailer was a few minutes. This movie is around the two hour range. Two hours is certainly more than a few minutes. But more isn’t always better. In this case, more is f*cking worse. The good thing about trailers is that they usually are quick. You get tons of shots and information regarding an upcoming movie in a short amount of time. It’s hard to say one can actually get bored by a trailer. This movie, to me at times, reminded me of “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” It’s a movie that takes a profitable or popular IP that nobody asked for, nobody wanted, but the studio is going to poop out anyway. Then again, based on what I’ve been hearing going into both movies, I think more people wanted “Venom” than “Solo.” Although unfortunately, I actually had a crapton more fun with “Solo.” You want to know how much fun I had for “Solo?” Well, when I saw the movie, I CLAPPED. Yes, I gave it a barely passable grade of 6/10. Here, I just questioned whatever was happening on screen.
In fact, you want to know how much I hate “Venom?” Here’s a tweet I recently posted.
If you didn’t already know, I actually reviewed “Spider-Man 3” and I managed to give it a 7/10. I will probably say that falls into the hot take category because a lot of people hate “Spider-Man 3” but in all seriousness, this movie just felt like it was an excuse for Sony to make a movie with “Spider-Man” characters that aren’t Spider-Man. At least there were some attempts of passion to potentially be put in “Spider-Man 3.” Granted, the attempts at putting Venom in the movie weren’t that way, but at least I had a reason to care about the people on screen. Here in “Venom,” I was bored, irritated, and just wanted to leave. And this is a weird complaint, but this movie felt like it was too fast. I say that most likely because it has barely any “Venom” in it. Maybe that’s an illusion, but that’s the way this movie felt to me. You get a lot of focus towards Eddie Brock, the human, to the point where I consider despite how this movie is actually called “VENOM,” it has a tad less of that character than I’d probably prefer. It’s the “Transformers” all over again! Granted, I will say, what we do get of the Venom character in this movie is a positive.
Some of the best scenes with Venom include him in a fight between the movie’s main villain (I won’t get into it), Venom calling Eddie a pussy for not jumping from a super high distance to the ground instead of taking an elevator, and one scene at the end that we saw in the trailer. And I will say, the voice work for Venom technically qualifies as my personal favorite performance in the entire film. I say that because when I compare the voice work to literally everything else, including Eddie Brock himself, everything else was just cringeworthy. While the character for Eddie Brock was well established, not only did I avoid caring about him, performance-wise, this might be the worst Tom Hardy performance I’ve ever seen. So many lines just feel like they’re processed by Hardy himself or they were written in the first draft. I can seriously imagine this movie had a first draft that sucked balls but because Sony wanted money sooner than later, they just let the first draft fly. It’s “Venom,” not “Spider-Man!” Who f*cking cares?! I don’t know who to really blame here! I want to blame the director. I want to blame the actor. I want to blame the writers.
“Venom” was written by three people and one of them probably wrote this movie because they have a good relationship with Sony. This writer in particular has written other Sony projects including “The Dark Tower,” “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” “The Fifth Wave,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” By the way, those last two films, I reviewed those and the highest grade I gave to one of those movies is a 3/10. Another writer worked on “Kangaroo Jack,” which I heard was horrible. The third writer worked on “Fifty Shades of Grey” so when you add this all up, you get one word. S*it.
Speaking of writing, another problem with it from my personal view can also translate to the directorial vision of the film as well. You know, if there even is a vision with this uninspired garbage. A lot of people wanted this film to be rated R. Having seen “Venom,” I understand why. While this film has some scary elements intact, it feels a lot more comedic than it should be. The director has done some work in the past involving comedies, and I feel like the comedic vision of the film when combining the writing and directing just make this film something it really shouldn’t have been. “Venom” should have been dark, it should have been gritty. “Venom” is PG-13, and admittedly, you can get away with some stuff in a PG-13 film. But this film probably would have been better if it actually didn’t cut away from certain violent happenings and show us more close-up action. “Venom” is throwing people around, eating them, and I didn’t see that much of it. F*cking stupid if you ask me! Although in the UK, “Venom” managed to get a 15 rating. I’m willing to bet it got a rating that high because the movie had a headbutt.
There are probably multiple reasons why “Venom” could have been kept at a PG-13. For one thing, “Venom” was in “Spider-Man 3” and that was PG-13. And speaking of “Spider-Man,” one wonder in my head is whether or not Sony plans to put Venom into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After all, Spider-Man, whose movie rights are owned by Sony, is currently under a deal where the character can appear in the MCU, which is run by Disney. Sony probably wants to get kids into the theater and if they succeed, this only increases their chances of Venomizing the MCU.
Also, reason #3, money. If you want to bring in the money, bring in the kids.
I’ll be honest with you, if comic book movies weren’t a priority to me for movie reviewing purposes, I would have probably gone out to see “Venom” maybe not right away, but maybe later on if it were PG-13. But if it were rated R, I would have probably gone to see it sooner.
In fact, the more I hear about “Venom,” the more I realize Sony has just about no faith in it whatsoever. For one thing, most of the movie’s screenings occurred on the week of the film’s release, the film was met with poor reviews from critics, and the review embargo was not that far from the release of the movie. Without going into spoilers, they play a clip of one of their upcoming films in the end credits. And you know something? This isn’t a minute, it’s more like a few or four minutes! It just basically says, “Hey, our film sucks! If you were patient enough to stick around for all of this time, we have a special treat for you! Check out this amazing footage to one of our upcoming movies!” I know some of you might be thinking, “Hey, Jackass! Don’t people like you praise Marvel Studios for their end credit scenes?” Again, those don’t last nearly as long, and they stay in their own universe. This promotes a movie in an entirely different universe. It’s just s*itty!
Speaking of the credits, there was also a mid-credits scene. This one however managed to stay in the same universe. Without going into detail, I gotta say, it kind of reminded me of “The Amazing Spider-Man” because it takes place in a prison. It just goes to show that maybe these Spidey-related films are probably more processed than maybe we’d all realize. Also, I mentioned that one of the writers for this movie worked on “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” I am someone who loves “Spider-Man,” and the fact that one of the writers from one of the worst “Spider-Man” movies and perhaps one of the all-time most abysmal comic-book movies came back to work on “Venom” just makes me angry. We’re seeing ideas that have been done before, and maybe even done better.
Speaking of horrible, let’s talk about the antagonist. His name is Carlton Drake and he’s played by Riz Ahmed. If there were a word to describe this guy, I’d say it would be “ass.” While his presence on screen could have been worse, there are so many moments where I look back and he comes off as this processed, cliche bad guy who we eventually find out does cliche bad guy things. Not to mention, there’s one moment where we see this character staring at the symbiote and he refers to it as “beautiful.” The way that line comes off is cringeworthy. Actually, I take that back because cringeworthy is too much of a compliment. Instead, that line is an abomination.
Let’s also talk about the action here. I recently mentioned this movie is PG-13, I wanted it to be rated R, yada-yada-yada. One reason I wanted an R rating is because of how the movie was shot, directed, and edited. This actually feels like it could have been done better by a high-schooler. I feel like that’s a good comparison because the action here just feels standard and conventional. At least when you’re younger, you probably have a tendency to think outside the box. Just think of those mind games where you have to, say, I don’t know, put a giraffe in a refrigerator or something. Maybe the high schooler’s action looks cheap, but at least it’s stylistic. The action easily felt like it could be compared to scenes in movies like “Skyscraper” or something. Nothing felt raw, or at the very least, intriguing.
“Deadpool” is rated R, and a phrase often associated with the character is “maximum effort.” This PG-13 pile of garbage? It doesn’t feel that way! And sticking with the rating idea, I will admit that some people I come across on the Internet would call this film cheesy. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. Cheesy doesn’t always mean bad. “Power Rangers” is cheesy and a lot of kids enjoy it. “Big Trouble in Little China” is probably the epitome of cheesy and it’s tons of fun. “The Meg” is a summertime blockbuster that is clearly meant to just be a good time while still being somewhat packed with cheesy humor. It’s all good. There was cringe in this movie, involving directing, acting, and writing that made me take my eyes off the screen and turn my head as I placed my hand there. Part of me couldn’t even believe what I was watching. I wanted this to be dark. Venom is not a comical inner voice. Venom is in fact, essentially a monster that eats people. I know that the MCU seems to be succeeding in terms of delivering effective movies with humorous scripts, but not every comic book movie has to have tons of humor. This is why you have “V For Vendetta.” This is why you have “Batman Begins.” This is why you have “Man of Steel.” They say that laughter is the best medicine, but at this point laughter might as well be a drug and when it comes to “Venom,” I seemed to acquire the drug from somebody else and it wasn’t prescribed to me. Not to mention, this movie released in October, and given how everyone is getting into the Halloween spirit, this movie could have gotten a chance to fall more into the horror genre than perhaps the action genre. There are disturbing elements intact, but the shock value from bloodier and more violent scenes that can be triggered from an R rating can definitely contribute to being associated with horror. Then again, when you’re competing against horror films left and right along with some films made for awards season, I guess being a conventional comic book-based flick can make you stand out in the crowd.
Did I want “Venom” to be the next “Dark Knight?” Not really. In fact, that movie is PG-13 so that also partially contributes to my thoughts. I was not expecting “Dark Knight” material from “Venom,” I was expecting crap the whole time, and I turned out to have my expectations met. Over time, I have thought to myself that maybe comic book villains could get their own movies. The more I hear about the Joaquin Phoenix “Joker” film, the more excited I get. “Deadpool” is technically not really a hero, but he does have some motivation behind him to do as he sees fit which makes him an intriguing main character. The way they handled “Venom” is the same way I’d probably handle parenting. They dropped the movie on its soft spot.
I will give credit though where it is due, Tom Hardy has had his fair share of roles where he had to play a character in a mask. Out of all of them, this was by far the easiest to understand.
In the end, I sucked all the “Venom” out out of a snake. In case you haven’t figured it out, this movie made me stupider. How often does one say they would rather watch “Spider-Man 3” as opposed to another movie they can pick from their collection? This movie just gets so much worse the more I think about it. Upon leaving the theater, I thought the movie sucked. A few days later, I think it sucks balls. If you like cheesiness, I wouldn’t say you should shy away from this movie, but for me, this was too light. In fact, Sony is seemingly planning to release a sequel I GUESS by the end of 2020, but if that’s the case, I am not looking forward to it. As of right now, I gotta be honest. This is the worst movie I’ve seen done in live-action that has some sort of relation to the “Spider-Man” franchise. IT’S THAT HORRIBLE. I’m going to give “Venom” a 2/10. I was across the board as this film progressed. Maybe it’s a 5/10, maybe a generous 6/10, perhaps a 4/10. This movie is honestly getting the poor grade it deserves. It feels like a corporate studio effort (or lack thereof) to cash-in on “Spider-Man” and get some hardcore fans in the theater because this interpretation of “Venom” could potentially be better than “Spider-Man 3.” It’s as if the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has generated $17.5 billion dollars thus far, is the latest fashion trend and “Venom” is the latest thing to enter such a craze going off the MCU’s heels because it’s gonna make money. At the end of the day, movies are not all about trends or making something to just keep business going. They are an art form, and certain comic book movies have fallen into a category that makes them artistic. “Venom” is just not one of them.
Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’ll have my review up for “A Star Is Born,” which I can assure you all is a hell lot better than this movie. “Venom” may have crushed the weekend, but “A Star Is Born” dominated in just about every other way. Speaking of movie reviews, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get this out on time, but I do have plans to review “Apollo 13.” I already did a couple reviews in my space movie review series, both of which I enjoyed making. I would love to make a review for “Apollo 13,” but the fact is, I don’t know if I will be able to put it out on time. I have some things on my plate regarding these next couple of days, I have to deal with school, and this may be a weird thing to say, but I need to relax. I just got back from New York Comic Con, I have to do a post on that, and I took somewhere past 70,000 steps over the weekend. MY LEGS ARE KILLING ME. Nevertheless, be sure to follow me here on Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Venom?” What did you think about it? Or, who is your favorite “Spider-Man” villain? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!