TAS Reviews: Venom

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TAS Reviews: Venom

Satisfaction, dissatisfaction, disappointment, happiness, excitement, underwhelmed and overwhelmed. These are just a couple of emotions I've felt leaving different movies across the years. But the emotion I felt leaving Venom is one I don't often experience leaving the cinema, and it isn't one I expected to be using in this review: Guilt.

I knew that I had little right to complain about Sony churning out these cash grabs (such as the lately announced Morbius) or a potential Venom 2, because I willingly decided to support this movie financially.

I can go on here and proceed to tell you all how terrible this movie is, but that's ultimately meaningless because Sony doesn't care. I predict this will bite them in the future, but for the meanwhile, Avi is enjoying the financial success of Venom and will proceed to green light more sequels and films. But since I decided to financially support this film, I have no other choice but to be a hypocrite and tell you all how stupid and lazy this movie is and how I wouldn't recommend it at all (you should watch A Star Is Born instead - I hear that's great).

Later on, I'll get into spoiler territory, because it's impossible to discuss all the bad things about this movie without delving into the biggest problem (the script decisions) but for the meanwhile, let's keep it spoiler-free. Is Venom a good movie? No. Is it as bad as Fantastic Four, Catwoman, Ghost Rider, Batman and Robin or Suicide Squad? No.

If I were to draw a comparison to another CBM in terms of quality, I'd compare it to The Incredible Hulk and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It is a low-effort, low-ambition product. And sure, the genre is no stranger to movies low in ambition, such as Ant-Man & the Wasp, but there's still a standard of functionality and competency in this movies. The only standard in Venom is "get the most out of putting in the least amount of effort possible."

From the moment I heard the writers behind genre-defining, wonderful movies such as Fifty Shades of Grey and The Mummy, would be writing this movie, I thought I should expect a terrible script, and I was right. The script for this movie is full of terrible story decisions, characters making nonsensical decisions for the sake of the story, the most idiotic villains, the most idiotic heroes and terrible dialogue. Tom Hardy said he let his 10-year old son watch parts of this movie during the production, but after watching Venom, I wouldn't be surprised if his son was responsible for script supervising, because the dialogue feels as if it was written by a kid, for kids.

Another fatal flaw in the film is the complete absence of proper character development. It's a fatal mistake for any movie to make, but an especially fatal mistake for an origin film to make. Can you imagine if Bruce had no character arc in Batman Begins? If he never went through the journey he did in that movie? If we never learnt why justice is so significant to him? Can you imagine If he just threw on a suit and became Batman?

Well, that's essentially what happens in Venom. The movie tries to convince you that Eddie is a reputable journalist, but it never even comes close to convincingly accomplishing this. Not only does he act like an absolute jackass (like virtually every other character in the movie), making stupid decision after stupid decision, but he talks like a 5 year old with a limited vocabulary and fumbles around like an idiot. Not once will you believe he is the journalist they want you to believe he is. This is due to the script, but also Tom Hardy's performance, which is a decent performance on it's own, but not a good fit for the character he is portraying.

The movie isn't all bad. The comedic parts of this movie were absolutely hilarious at times. Most of these situations arise from Eddie's initial reaction to being bonded with the symbiote, the interactions and dynamic Eddie and Venom share, and Hardy's physically and vocally comedic performance. There are also flashes of brilliance found in the horror aspects of the movie, which give parts of the movie a unique feel, justifying why Ruben Fleischer, who directed Zombieland, was chosen to direct this movie.

It's a shame that these flashes of brilliance is so far and few in between, as the majority of the movie is just a generic, loud mess that doesn't emphasis either the comedic or horror aspects. Remember how frustrating it was in SM3 when Venom's face would constantly peel back throughout the climax to reveal Topher Grace's voice? Brace yourself for more of that, because there is barely any Venom in this movie.

Every time you get excited that Venom is about to tear shit up, he just turns back into Eddie again. Literally: the first time Venom appears in full form, you think he's about to bite some heads off, but he just throws two guys and then reverts back to Eddie and starts arguing with him. At that point, even the interactions between Eddie and the Symbiote become tedious, because I wanted to get some Venom action, and what little we get of it is abrupt, and forgettable. The action is just serviceable, with no creativity or no standout action movies.

Regardless of all of this, the most appropriate word to describe this movie is: mess. The first act of this movie will leave you checking your watch, waiting for Venom to bond with Eddie, barely able to sit through another cliché and nauseating scene between Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams (who is utterly wasted in this movie), and generic scenes of a villainous Riz Ahmed plotting to do evil things. The only thing missing is a scene where he kicks a cat to show audiences how evil he is. Then, it becomes a comedy with slapstick humour and scenes that belong in a Deadpool movie, and the final act just devolves into a generic action movie.

Conclusion

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Due to how self-contained it is, it's easy to forget Venom is supposed to be the Iron Man of the Sony Universe of Marvel Characters (SUMC is what they're calling it). It's supposed to be the solo film to jumpstart a universe. I have little doubt in my mind that Venom will turn in a profit for Avi Arad, emboldening him to move forward with the Morbius film, but if this is the foundation they're building their franchise on - a foundation of greed, low-effort, and a disinterest in delivering a quality product, the franchise is dooming from the get go. They hired writers that have historically written cash grabs, and this is exactly what Venom is. Despite some individual aspects that work well, such as the comedy and horror scenes these ingredients don't come together to create a cohesive, consistent product. We're instead left with a mess of ingredients. I'm personally left with no interest in watching Morbius.

I didn't even stick around for the after credits scene because I don't care what the universe has in store.

Spoiler discussion

  • There is no arc for Eddie in terms of accepting the Symbiote. He just... agrees to let it live within him. I don't read a lot of comics, but to my limited understanding, Eddie is an angry, troubled, dark individual and that's what attracts him to the symbiote. The relationship is supposed to be a two-way street. There is little room for that here. He just decides that "alright Symbiote. I like you. Let's just set some ground rules." because Avi Arad and the filmmakers don't care. They'd rather just show Venom punching things.
  • I couldn't believe when they had Michelle Williams's character respond to seeing Venom in the way that she did. "My ex boyfriend is possessed by an alien? I have a solution. HOSPITAL!" And she just lets Eddie get in the car with her knowing he's possessed by an alien that eats people's heads off, and Venom just agrees despite the fact that going to the hospital goes against his own self-interest.
  • That's a recurring thing in the movie. As far as I know, in this universe, people are completely unfamiliar with powers/the supernatural. Yet they all have a muted reaction to the Symbiote. Like when half of Eddie's face turns into Venom, and that dude is just like "um ok sure dude, I'll turn the music down."
  • What did Jenny Slate's character expect that a failed reporter like Eddie would be able to do by going into Riz Ahmed's labs? She never tells him what she wants him to do.
  • Am I supposed to believe that Riz Ahmed's character doesn't have any security cameras in this lab, and that two people were able to get in without anyone knowing who?
  • WTF WOULD YOU SHOW THE ENDING OF THE MOVIE IN THE TRAILER? Fourth time Sony has done this.
  • That scene of Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams and the pillows reminded me of THE ROOM.

I'm done with this movie.

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