Movie Review: “Venom”
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a respected journalist. His many fans know they can count on him to discovsr the skeletons in the closet of whatever person or organization he is reporting on. He is known to push the envelope but, when he is investigating innovative scientist Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), he pushes the envelope too far. This time the risk costs him his job, his reputation, and his relationship with the woman he loves.
Determined to set things right, Eddie breaks into Drake’s lab but inadvertently comes into contact with an alien symbiote known as Venom. This symbiote is wreckless, powerful, hungry and turns Eddie’s life upside down (as if it was not already). Carlton Drake will do anything to get his symbiote back, but Venom has found a perfect match in his new host, Eddie. The two make unlikely allies. Eddie is just trying to survive with as few casualties as possible and it seems like nothing can stand in Venom’s way, but Carlton Drake is a desperate man with vast resources and there is no way of knowing what he has up his sleeve.
The Pros & Cons
Eddie Brock (+5pts)
Symbiotic Relationship (+10pts)
Carlton Drake (-6pts)
Pro: Eddie Brock (+5pts)
I am a fan of Tom Hardy, but I was not going into this movie expecting to enjoy the main character so much. I liked that his relationship with Anne went in a completely different direction than most superhero movies go in, I liked Eddie’s need to find the truth (even when attempting to do so loses him his job and reputation), and I liked his loss over what to do now that he is a host of an alien symbiote. The character is fumbling to find his footing throughout this entire movie and it was pretty entertaining to watch. This is an entertaining character story about a man at the height of his career, who hits rock bottom, then gets the added stress of being the host for a carnivorous alien symbiote. Tom Hardy’s great performance made all of this work really well.
Con: Anne (-3pts)
This character has received a lot of hate online, but I do not think the magnitude of that hate is justified. Michelle Williams and Tom Hardy do not have amazing chemistry, but it is far from the worst I have seen. They have average chemistry as fellow actors, but I did not get the feeling that there was a romantic relationship between them (aside from being told that there was). I know that the characters were romantically involved, but I did not feel it. I do not know if that makes much sense, but there is my two cents on it.
Anne was definitely needed at the beginning of the story to show Eddie Brock’s fall to the bottom but, after that, the character felt unnecessary because she did not get much focus. I do not think the filmmakers should have focused more on Anne, because I think they were right to focus more on Eddie and Venom. Save that part of Eddie’s redemption for future movies. This character is all about redemption, but he has a lot of repairing to do in his life. This movie was about trying to take down Carlton Drake to redeem Eddie’s career, while also trying to redeem his relationship which ended up feeling like a distraction from the former. This is more unfortunate when the filmmakers did not have enough screentime to give the character the focus she needed. She is supposedly the most important part of Eddie’s life, if she had to be in the main part of the story, it should have felt like it.
Pro: Symbiotic Relationship (+10pts)
This was definitely the most entertaining part of this movie. Eddie Brock was interesting and Venom was awesome to see, but the two of them interacting with one another was a blast. Eddie sees venom as a parasite that will kill him but not before using his body as a vessel to violently kill many others. Venom sees Eddie as a perfect symbiotic match, and knows how rare that is. Furthermore, Venom actually likes Eddie because he amuses Venom.
The two are an unlikely pairing on the surface, but the dynamic works really well. Eddie gets into a lot of trouble in this movie, and Venom basically holds his hand through it all, poking fun at his cowardice along the way. There are a ton of examples of great Eddie and Venom moments, but none that I want to spoil here. The movie had some problems, but I think it is worth seeing due to this relationship.
Con: Carlton Drake (-6pts)
I honestly do not know what the main culprit was. Was it the actor, the writing, or a combination of both? I am honestly not so sure. Riz Ahmed is a talented actor, and the character was given motivations that should have been easy to buy into, but something about this character made Carlton feel very bland.
The character was a pretty typical villain, but had motivations that made the character pretty much write itself. The trouble was, that I do not think Riz Ahmed was a good fit for the role. He did not strike me as a mad scientist or an intimidating businessman. In order for this role to work, he had to be one or the other. Again, I think Riz Ahmed is a great actor, but I think he was a poor casting choice for Carlton Drake. He was a typical villain with no oomph.
Pro: Venom (+6pts)
To put it very simply, when Venom was on screen, this movie was awesome. The digital effects looked great and I will disagree with a lot of reviews by saying that I do not think this movie needed to be rated-R. When Venom is on screen, he is kicking ass and there are plenty of implied brutal moments. The action is awesome when it is happening and the ruthless nature of Venom still translates to the audience. This, mixed with the badass dialogue that he uses to intimidate his victims, makes for a very entertaining titular character. My only complaint is that he did not get more screen time.
Con: Riot (-4pts)
Much like my issues with Carlton Drake, Riot was pretty lack-luster. This is another movie where the villain is essentially a meaner copy of the hero (or in this case anti-hero). We get a CGI heavy symbiote versus symbiote fight, which would be alright, but it lacked any intensity. The problem with Riot was that I do not think anyone in the audience thought Venom would fail. As a result, the audience did not feel the weight or the stakes of the situation. Riot was a villain that had potential, but the filmmaker’s execution of the character made me feel like they were just going through the motions to pump this movie out as fast as they could.
Grade: B- (83pts)
Venom has its problems. With two lackluster villains in Carlton Drake and Riot, the film fails to deliver an intense, satisfying climax to the story. Additionally, Anne’s storyline, and that of Eddie redeeming himself in her eyes, either needed more focus or needed to take the back burner until a sequel. Instead, the filmmakers forced it in here but did not give it the time it needed, which resulted in a bland romantic storyline that felt like a waste of time and a missed opportunity.
The best parts of this movie were Eddie Brock, Venom, and the two of them together. Eddie is given a pretty straight forward redemption storyline but it is easy to get behind. Venom brings awesome action that was really entertaining. However, it was when the two characters were interacting with one another, that the movie was at its best. Venom and Eddie have a very unique dynamic that was an absolute blast to see. The movie had some noteworthy problems, but it was I enjoyed myself nonetheless.