Main cast: Tom Hardy (Eddie Brock), Michelle Williams (Anne Weying), Riz Ahmed (Carlton Drake), Scott Haze (Roland Treece), Reid Scott (Dr Dan Lewis), Jenny Slate (Dr Dora Skirth), and Michelle Lee (Donna Diego)
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Now that the Spider-Man franchise has been reverted back to Disney, Sony decides to go ahead and retool its own superhero franchise with Venom. And it’s horrible. Perhaps because this movie is made with Chinese money and hence it has to be made super dumb considerably to appeal to hundreds of thousands of people whose grasp of English is rudimentary at best, but every second of it is pure, excruciating stupidity.
This is an origin story, of course, and for some reason, the people behind the show think that this movie is some kind of Oscar bait drama, hence the first hour is a slow, pointless marathon of dumb. Eddie Brock is now a TV reporter, praised to be a smart, good one, but throughout the movie he displays nothing but behavior that borders of mental retardation.
First, he steals into his fiancée Anne Weying’s email to gain information about three deaths that resulted when a space craft belonging to Life Foundation crashed into East Malaysia while attempting to make its way back from who knows where. Anne is a lawyer working for the bioengineering conglomerate, you see. Next, with the grace of a hungry rhinoceros, Eddie barks what he knows at the boss of the corporation, the usual amoral scientist sort Carlton Drake, and hence getting himself as well as Anne fired. Anne dumps him, and our hero spends the next six months feeling sorry for himself.
But my god, it is so hard to feel anything but extreme revulsion for Eddie because he is so stupid and so obnoxious. I thought the idiot in the recent The Predator was the biggest moron in a movie this year, but this one grabs every seat in the short bus and defecates on each one. In a top secret laboratory, Eddie has no issues breaking things, despite the fact that secrecy is paramount, and surprise, he gets rewarded by being raped by the alien goo creature Life Foundation brought back from space, hence gaining a buddy that takes over his body and turns into Venom every time Eddie threatens to kill them both with his bouts of idiocy. Additionally, even when he is down on his luck, our so-called hero remains smug, condescending, rude, and entitled. He interrupts and talks over his sources, mocks them even before he knows what they are trying to tell him, and generally behaves in a way that invites pure hatred from all sources. In fact, Eddie’s stupidity is directly responsible for the death of a source, so bravo, hero, go inhale sarin gas and die please.
Venom was originally conceived to be and filmed as an R-rated movie (think Logan) but don’t be fooled by the hype about about this is the “first movie with an anti-hero” or anything like that. Because the studio loves money more than the integrity of an already filmed movie, this one has been cut down and butchered to fit the PG-13 mold during post-production. As a result, there is no genuine anti-hero moments, just convenient hand-waving or dumb justification of the jerk-ass stupidity of Eddie or the amorality of the alien symbiote that, alas, doesn’t completely subsume that idiot’s mind in the end. The so-called violence is the usual choppy, too-fast stuff that pared down so that Venom and Spider-Man can high-five in future movies without keeping kids away from the cinemas. Venom is forced to be a superhero here, when the original intent is to make him something less… heroic, for the want of the better word. The end result is a mess with contradictions and cop-out justifications thrown in willy-nilly.
Ugh, and the CGI is terrible. The symbiote is like a coat of tar slowly enveloping Eddie, to the bizarre extent in which the teeth of the symbiote flow up Eddie’s scalp and down his face to somehow coat over his human teeth in ways that can only be done by lazy CGI.
Then there is the script. Every superhero movie cliché one can think of is forced into this one with all the verve and swagger of a bored kid ticking off items on a checklist. Hence, the movie is so predictable to a painful “even every frame of the scene is reminiscent of every similar scene from other movies” way. Because almost the first hour is full of such lifeless “the drama of Eddie Brock” moments, this movie is a pain to sit through.
Then the action ramps up after Eddie gets a monster inside him, but Ruben Fleischer directs the whole thing like he’s completely lost any sense of timing. The movie can go back and forth from drama to humor to who knows what else in an abrupt, choppy way that I can only imagine that either he or the people in the editing room must have given up and gone ape on the thing so that they could all go home before Christmas. Worse, every character keeps uttering stupid, banal lines that make them all appear vapid, pretentious, obnoxious, or all of these. Every time Brock and Carlton open their mouths, I cringe to such a frequent degree that, when I later stumble upon a picture of Tom Hardy looking like he’s about to speak, I am already cringing in advance in a most unfortunate Pavlovian way. To think I once wished that Mad Max spoke a bit more. I certainly appreciate that mostly silent character more now!
Oh, and despite showing nothing but rampant stupidity, Eddie naturally gets back the girl because plot.
Venom is really, really stupid most of the time, and when it’s not, it’s very, very dull and lifeless. It’s either cringing inside or looking at the time and wondering when the torture of having to sit through this pile of turd will end. Can Marvel please take this one back too, along with everything else that Sony still has in its clutches before it ruins those too? I’m a bit tired of the Marvel hero movie formula, frankly, but it looks like every other movie studio is determined to make sure that Disney looks absolutely fantastic in comparison at the end of the day.