Kelly… Likes Venom (2018)!

Venom 001Rating: B

Summary: A sy-BYE-ote from outer space finds a new home- in Eddie Brock.

It’s not like I loved this movie, or was looking forward to it, or really REALLY liked it- I saw it, I had a good time, I genuinely giggled, and that’s that. I don’t think I’ll watch it again, if we’re being honest.

Venom tells the tale of Eddie Brock who is a reporter constantly on a justice crusade and is highly successful at it- until he breaks into his lawyer girlfriend’s computer, reads her confidential files, and accuses her client of unethical practices at his lab. He gets fired, loses his girlfriend, but then is contacted by a scientist, who offers insider knowledge of the laboratory. While there, Eddie gets infected and discovers his new powers.

This is the long-awaited standalone movie for the Marvel… character (he ain’t no hero) of the same name. Venom is best known for being part of the Spider-verse and was played in Spider-man 3 (or as I call it, Emo Spidey) by Topher Grace and that is the extent of my Venom knowledge. I literally only know him as my dad used to describe him- an evil Peter Parker. Anyway, when the first trailer hit, I thought it was going to be terrible. Then another trailer hit and my opinion changed to “not terrible, just not good.” Now that I’ve seen it, that opinion is “fun but still not good.”

I think there were different expectations due to the tone of the trailers. It was almost as if they were really pushing the dramatic side of this tortured anti-hero agenda. And then there were the two stars, Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams, both Oscar-nominated in the past few years. They do a fine job here but their involvement implied a serious tone, which the movie doesn’t completely have. At all. Like it’s more fun, more action-oriented, more self-deprecating than what was presented to us. I think the finished product does still have some confusion about what it wants to be. It has some of the humor from Deadpool, but then some of those dramatic Batman-like elements in there. I wish they had committed to the former- seeing an Eddie Brock who secretly liked wreaking havoc or really enjoyed his powers and didn’t mind abusing the crap out of some of the special ops guys would have been a lot of fun and completely in line with the tone of the movie.

To go along with that, this whole antihero thing? Eddie didn’t really feel like a completely unlikeable character to begin with. Like his morals aren’t bad (he wants to expose wrongdoings and unethical practices), he seems in pretty good standings with his boss, and for the most part, the first half hour or so is devoted on what a good reporter and good boyfriend Eddie is- this probably could have been cut and I almost wish that they went with 100% douche Eddie, like if the movie had opened on post-break up Eddie chatting with someone about how his girlfriend was missing out or getting into an argument with a “legitimate reporter” about the ethics of his research. It would have been less obvious, less on the nose, less linear… Maybe it would have felt like Tony Stark or not lined up that well with the plans to introduce him to Spider-man? I guess we’ll find out?

Venom 004

The best parts of this movie are the bits where Hardy gets to do both parts. Venom is like a mix of Draxx from Guardians where he doesn’t care what he says to your face and he’s also new to this world so he just doesn’t have the same social cues. There’s some chuckle-worthy dialogue between them- it’s not witty or remarkable, but it’s funny. The action isn’t bad. Venom versus humans is great in this movie. Venom versus other Symbiote looks like Gooey Transformers- there’s a lot of ooze moving around but it doesn’t make anatomical sense. Visually, most of this movie is not fun to look at- it is really dark with little contrast. I had an especially hard time watching the last action sequence as well as most of the nighttime scenes.

I’m hoping the eventual sequel to this just really revels in Brock’s/Venom’s bad side and brightens things up both figuratively and literally. It would be different and a hell of a lot more fun. Let Woody Harrelson give us a fun, campy villain! We’re overdue for one of those.

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