There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a respected journalist. His many fans know they can count on him to discover the skeletons in the closets of whatever person or organization he is investigating. 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 reckless, powerful, hungry, and it turns Eddie’s life upside down. 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. However, 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
|The Pros||The 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 determination to find the truth despite the cost, and I liked watching him trying to figure out what to do with a powerful, dangerous alien symbiote inside him. The character was fumbling to find his footing throughout this entire movie and it was pretty entertaining to watch. This was an entertaining character story about a man at the height of his career, who hit rock bottom, then got the added stress of being the host for a carnivorous alien symbiote, and I thought Tom Hardy nailed it through all the craziness that the character endured.
Con: Anne (-3pts)
This character received a lot of hate online, but I do not think the magnitude of that hate was at all justified. Michelle Williams and Tom Hardy do not have amazing chemistry, but it was far from horrible. I would not call their chemistry with one another bad, but I definitely did not get the feeling that there was a romantic relationship between them—even though the movie kept telling me there was. I knew 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 the matter.
Anne was definitely needed at the beginning of the story to show Eddie Brock’s fall to the bottom, but after that, the character did not really have a place in this story. Eddie's story was all about redemption, but his redemption in Anne's eyes was not what this story was. This movie was about Eddie taking down Carlton Drake and getting his career back. It was about fixing his reputation, and coming to terms with sharing his body with an alien. Forcing the relationship arc between him and Anne into here just made the movie feel cluttered.
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 saw venom as a parasite that will kill him, but not before using his body as a vessel to violently kill many others. Venom saw Eddie as a perfect symbiotic match, and knew how rare that was. On top of that, Venom was amused by Eddie, so took a liking to him.
The two were an unlikely pairing on the surface, but the dynamic worked really well for this movie. Eddie got into a lot of trouble in this movie, and Venom basically held his hand through all of it, poking fun at his cowardice along the way. There were 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 thought it was worth, due to how much I liked the relationship between these two characters.
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 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 I did 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, or he character needed to be compelling enough to overcome it. Again, I think Riz Ahmed is a great actor, but I think he was a poor casting choice for Carlton Drake. The character was written as your typical villain, but I did not think Riz Ahmed had the right screen presence to make the character work.
Pro: Venom (+6pts)
To put it very simply, when Venom was on screen, this movie was awesome. The digital effects looked great and I disagree with a lot of reviews in that I do not think this movie needed to be rated-R. When Venom was on screen, he was kicking ass and there were plenty of awesome moments. A number of brutal moments were implied rather than shown, but they still worked.
The action was awesome when it was happening, and the ruthless nature of Venom still translated to the audience. Would I have liked to have seen some rated-R violence from the character? Yes, but the character was still entertaining to watch kicking ass anyway. This, mixed with the badass dialogue that he used to intimidate his victims, made for an entertaining titular character. My only complaint was that he did not get more screen time.
Con: Riot (-4pts)
Much like my issues with Carlton Drake, Riot was a pretty lack-luster villain. This was yet another movie where the villain was essentially a meaner copy of the protagonist. We got a CGI heavy symbiote versus symbiote fight, which would be alright, but it lacked any intensity or emotion. I do not think anyone in the audience thought Venom would fail, and the lack of emotion made it feel like I was watching a generic, video-game cut scene. To put this very simply, this character was not interesting, I did not care about the rivalry between Venom and Riot, and the fight scenes involving the character were nothing special.
Grade: B- (83pts)
Venom had its problems. With two lackluster villains in Carlton Drake and Riot, the filmmakers failed 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 it being a bland romantic storyline that simultaneously 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 was given a pretty straight forward redemption storyline, but it was easy to get behind. Venom brought some awesome action that was really entertaining. However, the movie was at its best when the two characters were interacting with one another. Venom and Eddie had a very unique dynamic that was an absolute blast to watch. The movie had some noteworthy problems, but I had a good time watching it nonetheless.