Well by now you might have noticed something when it comes to Venom: Movie Critics hate it, and the audience loves it. With a 32% Rotten Rating from Critics on Rotten Tomatoes, alongside an 89% liked Audience Score on the same site, Venom has become one of “those” movies which are dividing movie-goers right down the middle. So is Venom an anti-superhero movie that we want to see more of? Or are the critics right and Venom needs to die in a fire while being blasted by sonics?
Let’s take a look.
Production Company: Columbia Pictures, Marvel Entertainment & Tencent Pictures
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Produced by: Avi Arad, Matt Tolmach, & Amy Pascal
Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze & Reid Scott
Based on: Venom by David Michelinie & Todd McFarlane
Release dates: October 5, 2018 (Worldwide)
Running time: 112 minutes
Rating: PG-13 (United States) / M15+ (Australia)
While exploring space for new habitable worlds, a space probe belonging to bio-engineering corporation Life Foundation discovers a comet covered in symbiotic lifeforms. They bring four samples back to Earth, but one escapes and causes the ship to crash in Malaysia. The Life Foundation recovers the other three and transports them to their research facility in San Francisco, where CEO Carlton Drake learns that the symbiotes cannot survive without an oxygen-breathing host but these host bodies often reject the symbiosis. Investigative journalist Eddie Brock, assigned to interview Drake about his work in space, reads a classified document that his lawyer fiancee Anne Weying was given to help the Life Foundation’s defense in a lawsuit. Brock questions Drake about his human trials, leading to both Brock and Weying losing their respective jobs. Weying ends their relationship.
Six months later, Drake is getting closer to achieving successful symbiosis. Brock is approached by Dora Skirth, one of Drake’s scientists who disagrees with his methods and wants to help Brock expose him. She helps Brock break into the research facility to search for evidence, and he learns that an acquaintance of his, a homeless woman named Maria, has become one of Drake’s test subjects. Brock attempts to rescue Maria, but she attacks him and the symbiote possessing her transfers from her body to his, leaving her dead. Brock manages to escape but soon begins displaying strange symptoms and reaches out to Weying for help. Her new boyfriend, Dr. Dan Lewis, examines Brock and discovers the symbiote. Meanwhile, Drake executes Skirth for her betrayal by exposing her to the remaining symbiote, which ultimately dies. This leaves the symbiote inside Brock as the only known surviving specimen.
Drake sends mercenaries to retrieve the symbiote from Brock, but it takes over Brock’s body and transforms him into a monstrous creature that fights off the attackers. Taking shelter outside of the city, the symbiote communicates with Brock and introduces itself as Venom. It explains that the comet is an invasion force searching for new worlds where the symbiotes can possess and devour the inhabitants. Venom offers to spare Brock if he helps the symbiotes achieve their goal, and Brock soon comes to enjoy the superhuman attributes that the symbiote gives him. Brock breaks into his old workplace to turn in evidence of Drake’s crimes, but is surrounded by SWAT officers on the way out and transforms once again to escape. Weying witnesses this transformation and takes Brock back to Lewis’ office, where they reveal to Brock that the symbiote is slowly rotting his internal organs. Brock also admits that the symbiote has two weaknesses: high-pitch noises and fire. Although the symbiote claims it is part of their symbiosis, Brock uses an MRI machine to weaken the symbiote long enough to separate from it. He is soon captured by Drake’s men.
Meanwhile, the fourth symbiote, Riot, makes its way from Malaysia to San Francisco by hopping from body to body. It bonds with Drake, who agrees to take Riot in a Life Foundation space probe to collect the rest of the symbiotes and bring them to Earth. Weying reluctantly bonds with Venom so they can free Brock. When Brock and Venom have bonded again, the latter states that he has been convinced to help protect the Earth from his kind through his interactions with Brock, and the pair attempt to stop Riot and Drake with Weying’s help. Venom manages to damage the probe as it takes off, causing it to explode and kill both Riot and Drake. Weying believes that Brock is no longer bonded to Venom after this and that the symbiote also died in the explosion, though the pair remains secretly bonded and set out to protect the city by killing criminals.
Brock also returns to journalism, and in a mid-credits scene, he is invited to interview incarcerated serial killer Cletus Kasady.
- Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock / Venom
I have no idea where to begin with this character. While we do get a lot of slowdown in the film due to having to go through a lot of origin stuff based around Eddie Brock, once Venom comes on board everything becomes awesome. A lot of this has to do with the talent that Tom Hardy himself put on in the role. While he does generate enough sympathy as Eddie Brock in the early part of the movie, it’s when he becomes boned with Venom that he really shines. From the tiny jerky movement, he puts into every second of paranoia the character has, to gaining more and more confidence as Venom as time moves on and the two begin to like and trust each other, Hardy does this masterfully. A role that should get Hardy an Oscar nod if it wasn’t for the unwritten rule that Superhero films are never allowed in the top lead or top movie categories.
- Michelle Williams as Anne Weying
Given that this is a VERY different Anne Weying than we had in the comic books really adds to the character in Venom. Michelle Williams plays the character in a nice strong style that makes her stand out, but at the same time doesn’t go so far out as to try and rip the spotlight away from the lead character or actor, something a lot of women actresses need to keep in mind with roles like this. You can be strong, get into a scrap, and yet still be a solid and good human being. Not to mention the scene where Anne gets to let her freak flag fly… Bravo!
- Riz Ahmed as Carlton Drake / Riot
Riz does what he can with Carlton Drake for a majority of the film. For someone who is meant to be young, powerful and so full of shit that he can get anyone to believe him; Riz does a good job. However later in the film when he bonds with Riot, Riz just can’t seem to act or even seem like the tiniest of threat, which explains why a lot of people do not like this character at all. When the levels of crazy are meant to be going up, Riz keeps things just way too calm; and not just “Crazy calm” either were being calm is just too creepy cause you know he is up to something, but just calm like he’s just had a really good massage… And that’s no way for a big threat to seem.
- Scott Haze as Roland Treece
A completely re-written character here. I spent most of Haze’s time on screen wondering where I heard the name Treece before, then it dawned on me. Roland Treece is the CEO of Treece International, a building and weapons arm of The Life Foundation. In the comics, Treece is a force to be reckoned with, leading the creation of 5 symbiotes to take down Venom. In the movie version, Treece is nothing more than the muscle for Carlton Drake, and an inept one at that. Largely failing in capturing Venom before getting killed off. Such a shame that a good character just became a character in name only.
- Reid Scott as Dr. Dan Lewis
Reid Scott plays someone who doesn’t exist in the normal Venom canon. More just a tool to keep Eddie going down in his personal downward spiral, Dr Dan Lewis is just a rebound guy with Anne who just happens to help them discover that Venom hates sonics, thus giving Anne the tool to help in the finale. Mostly played as the “straight guy who knows nothing at all” for a majority of the film, it’s a bit part that ends up being a somewhat ok performance from Scott.
- Jenny Slate as Dora Skirth
The Scientist that is helping Carlton Drake bond people to symbiotes, before turning against her boss and helping Eddie Brock in breaking into The Life Foundation, her performance is quite good to watch and is very stand out for someone who doesn’t really have much purpose. I, like a lot of people, was hoping Dr Skirth would bond with Mayhem (one of the symbiotes) and become either friend or foe with Venom. But that doesn’t happen and the character is written off. A shame since Slate’s acting was right up there with the main cast.
A lot of what I’ve got to say about what worked well in Venom comes from the fact that I’m a HUGE Venom fan. I know who Eddie Brock is, I know his fall from being a big-time journalist to outcast, I know what Venom is and it’s origin. I’ve collected and read just about everything published with this big black mother fucker involved. That being said, my experience comes from a far different place than most people who would have gone and seen Venom. Going into the film, I wanted an alien who is fucking with Eddie’s mind, talking back to him, making Eddie crazy before just going out into the world and kicking ass. And once the two got together, that’s exactly what we got and I walked away happy.
The biggest thing to praise, and I’m going to do it once again, is Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock / Venom. The whole crazy guy thing Hardy does once he is infected just works so well. The tiny movements and jumps at nothing really makes you understand that this is not a guy who is in control of himself. Things get even better/crazier once Venom decides to reveal himself and actually begins interacting with Eddie one on one, especially when you realize that Venom is also just Hardy with a few audio tweaks. The guy playing off himself to make some awesome and also funny moments really makes Venomworthh watching, as it’s something you’re not going to get with any other movie out there, even superhero movies.
What also helps is that the main supporting cast, mainly Riz Ahmed and Michelle Williams in particualr help build and rip down Eddie as a character to the point where we can really feel for Eddie and actually cheer for Venom when the time comes again. Plus that reveal at the end during the end credits gives me hope that there is at least one more Venom film out there, maybe involving other characters or some we saw during this film hmmm?
While you’ll hear a lot from other critics about how Venom looks and feels like an early 2000s Superhero film and how due to the lack of Spider-Man references it just lacks substance overall, or how the CGI used is just too 2000s; that’s not the real issue with Venom. That’s just short sighted non-comic book “movie critics” mouthing off at yet another Superhero film in the vast ocean of Superhero films. Movie critics don’t want to see something like Venom succeed because it’s not a Politically Correct, long-winded, psudo-statement on current society movie that they want to see at this stage. Movie critics do not want to see a Superhero action movie that’s more popcorn action/comedy instead of having to deal with things like the current push to make females the lead of everything or some non-White person as a hero. Venom is an as old school of a comic book movie as you’re going to get, and they hate that.
But because the mainstream movie critic circle is finding anything to use to bury Venom, it doesn’t mean there isn’t anything wrong with the film, not by a long shot.
The biggest and main problem with Venom is that it’s an origin movie. We spend the first third of the film establishing things: Eddie Brock, his relationship with Anne Weying, his downfall from great journalist to practically a bum, the Life Foundation and Carlton Drake as the bad guys. There’s a lot of people and things that need to be established in order to make the movie work for the general public. While Venom is known by a lot of longtime comic book fans, and slightly by other people as “That Black Spider-Man” thanks to Sam Reimi’s Spider-Man 3; the majority of movie goers don’t know the character Venom or Eddie Brock at all. So doing something like MARVEL did with Black Panther or Spider-Man just wouldn’t work for Venom. So because we needed the origin story, things get very slow and people just don’t want to see that given the whole MARVEL Universe thing.
One other thing that got a bit annoying with Venom, at least from what I overheard during the credits, is that people didn’t understand who Riot was, nor the whole thing with the different symbiotes. This comes from a part of the story being taken from the Venom solo series “Separation Anxiety” which featured 5 different symbiotes being experimented on by The Life Foundation to create weapons strong enough to beat Venom. However none of this is really explained, but instead swapped out with “crazy billionaire wants to save humanity by combining humans with symbiotes”. Sorry, boring motivation and Samuel L Jackson did the crazy billionaire trying to save the world thing much better in Kingsman.
Finally, in the one thing I’ll agree with movie critics about, it’s that Venom is handcuffed by the PG-13 rating that the movie was working under. Venom deserved to be an R rated film in tradition of hits like Logan and Deadpool. It’s very disappointing when you hear about how much the symbiote loves to eat human brains and body parts yet we never actually see it happening. I think the change in rating might have opened things up to be a bit more graphic and darker, giving Venom a more horror feel than an action/comedy that it got in the end.
At the end of it all, Venom is a fans movie. It’s waaaaaaaaaaaay better than Spider-Man 3, and it’s deserving of a lot more praise than what you are going to get from mainstream sources. While the beginning suffers heavily from origin story syndrome, once Eddie and Venom begin their relationship, things go into overdrive in both the action and the comedy. There’s nothing wrong with Venom being able to crack a weird joke, it’s been a part of the character since leaving the Amazing Spider-Man series and going solo in the mid-90s. Personally, I loved the crap out of this movie because it gave me what I wanted: That is Eddie Brock at his lowest becoming a Lethal Protector and anti-hero in the fullest meaning of the words.
Let’s just hope that the boo-bird community that is the mainstream film critics doesn’t influence Sony enough that they give up on a sequel before giving us some lovely Carnage.
Better than you think
Hides a much better movie on the inside
Venom is that type of movie that fans of the character or those with a basic knowledge of the character are going to enjoy. Venom isn’t some high and mighty commentary on society that movies like Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War turned into. Venom is just a basic popcorn action flick with some well timed comedy moments thrown in to keep things light enough to keep that PG rating.
- Tom Hardy as Eddie & Venom is a thing of beauty
- 2nd best out of nowhere Stan Lee cameo ever
- A great tease of two other characters
- Delivered what was meant to be expected
- PG rating handcuffs Venom from really going all out
- Origin story syndrome
- Main bad guy doesn’t feel like a threat, even with a symbiote involved
- Might not get a sequel due to mainstream critics shitting on the movie
- Hoyts didn’t give me the free comic book