D.C.'s Take

DC’s Take: Venom

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Mishawaka, IN.-- Why does Sony always have problems when it’s related to Spider-Man? They pretty much ruined three movies, and it looks like their newest PG-13 Marvel adaptation, Venom, could be another one of them.  

What’s the story? Reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is investigating what’s going on about a shady company, Life Foundation, and its billionaire founder Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). As he investigates, he is infected with an alien symbiote named “Venom”, which latches onto him and gives him superpowers. 

Normally I’m excited anytime a comic book movie comes out. However, I didn’t feel this excitement when a standalone Venom movie was announced. Why’s that? Because the idea of this antihero movie not taking place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (M.C.U.) sounded like a bad idea from Sony. The character, Venom, is well-known for being the most popular Spider-Man villain in the comics.   To start off with the positives, it doesn't come at anyone’s surprise that Hardy’s performance as Eddie Brock is ultimately the saving grace. He looks like he had fun even though he was working with a bad script and seems to be the only actor to care about being in it. Even so, there were times in the first act when the character comes off as unlikable. Hardy lends credibility to certain movies. Unfortunately, that’s where the good things end.  Probably the biggest negative of Venom is the script by Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg and Kelly Marcel. There's something about the story that doesn't feel complete and the audience is waiting for something big to happen. The tone is inconsistent and always shifting, making the script confusing. For example, there is a humorous relationship between Eddie and Venom, but then their relationship jolts to being taken seriously the next second.  The relationship between Eddie and Venom (voiced by Hardy) was decent at best. Those who read the comics will know it comes as a Jekyll and Hyde situation. Eddie is the only person who hears Venom, making him seem crazy. It was disappointing because it took a while for Venom to appear. Most of the humor comes from those back-and-forth moments between Eddie and Venom, and they really didn’t land for me. This didn't go for the horror-vibe the trailers made it out to be.  Aside from Hardy, every supporting character is completely dry. Michelle Williams plays Eddie's ex-fiancé Anne, and it's mind-blowing to figure out why she agreed to be in this. She doesn’t offer much to work with and has no good chemistry between her and Hardy. Ahmed’s Drake is played out as a generic villain with a dumb plan to merge aliens from space with the perfect human. He didn’t care one bit about what was going on in the Life Foundation and the motivation behind it. His performance was so bad, it was almost laughable.  Much of the action thrown in didn’t leave any captivation because you already know how it’s going to end. It took so long for anything to happen, that if felt boring afterward. Nothing was memorable since it felt tamed.  The CGI wasn’t all that impressive either. I say the look of Venom is accurate with the long tongue and all, but not much else. This has a budget of $100 million and that’s the best they come up with? It becomes apparent during the big climax scene that it’s fake. You know it’s funny when even Deadpool 2 made a joke about big CGI fights in Venom.  One question has loomed over Venom: Could this have been better if they went for the R-rating?   It wouldn’t make a big difference, much like if it was involved in the M.C.U. The fact that it cut down to a PG-13 rating tainted the movie for fans because it’s what they’ve wanted for a long time. Scenes where Venom is biting people's heads off weren't shown because it needed to be blood free. It’s likely that Venom would’ve still been successful if it gained a R-rating. Maybe if there was some kind of an extended cut (not that I’m going to watch this again), it could show the missing 40 minutes that were cut out (as Hardy said).  It’s not that I was disappointed with Venom, but this movie needed to prove me wrong. None of the trailers were good. They ranged from “meh” to “just not impressed”. And yes, the last scene was shown in the trailer (Quit doing that, Sony!). Venom was an unnecessary movie and is the first step in Sony’s Marvel universe featuring other Spider-Man villains. Will this get a sequel? After looking at the box office numbers, the answer seems to be, “Yes.”  In the end, Venom came off as a mess that some might find mildly entertaining. It doesn't make for a fun origin story when the filmmaking comes off as unimpressive. There's a good movie in here somewhere. If the storyline was better executed, it would’ve at least given one of my favorite actors, Tom Hardy, something to work with. Want to watch Hardy play a villain? Just watch The Dark Knight Rises where he plays Bane; that's a great movie to sit through, more so than this one.  Luckily, this wasn’t the level of awful like 2015’s Fantastic Four or any other terrible comic book movies from the early 2000s. Nevertheless, Venom is pretty much as bland as everyone would figure. Contender for worst comic book movie of 2018? Seems very likely.  Venom may have given us a good Tom Hardy performance, but his adaptation of the famous Marvel anti-hero has problems all-around from the tone, bad C.G.I. and a plot that isn’t worth the time to care about. Grade- D+
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