Film review: Venom
‘Reporting live from 2004, you’re tuned into the solo cinematic debut of Venom!’
Jokes aside “Venom” hasn’t had the best treatment when it comes to cinematic depictions, playing the tertiary villain in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 3” and warming up only to be sent back to the bench as rumours of a solo debut died down; so, it was no surprise many were reluctant to be optimistic when this was finally green-lit — in fact, Sony (naively) cut 40-minutes just to keep it PG-13. Unintentionally, funny at times and confused for the remainder but enjoys every second trying to figure out what it wants to be.
Loosely based on David Michelinie’s 1993 mini-series Venom: Lethal Protector. Eddie Brock is a very successful journalist with his own thriving news show: Brock Report, and engaged to lawyer Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), everything is perfect until he turns a fluff piece on controversial business mogul Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) into an interrogational exposé about the supposed human experimentations carried out by Drake’s Life Foundation. Eddie loses his job and fiancé forcing him to spiral into an isolated and depressive state. He is then pursued by one of Drake’s scientists working on the Symbiote project, that he is using to create a new species that will be able to survive in space, Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) informs him that his suspicions about Drake are correct and helps Eddie break into the laboratory where Symbiote extracts collected from a comet are kept and after exploring and collecting evidence Brock is, suddenly, exposed to Venom.
For those who don’t know Venom, the character made its proper debut in 1988. According to artist John Byrne the illogical conundrum of characters costumes being restored to their pristine state by the next instalment spurred the idea for a character that wouldn’t have to deal with this problem. Byrne writes on his site: “I didn’t much like the notion of Danny Rand [a.k.a. Iron Fist] sitting in a corner with a needle and thread. So … I suggested that the outfit was made of some kind of biological material that ‘healed’ instead of having to be patched. We never got around to using that in Iron Fist, and years later, after Spider-Man got his alien costume in Secret Wars, Roger Stern asked if he could use the notion, and added the idea that the suit was some kind of symbiote.” The idea of symbiote derives from symbiotic relationships seen throughout nature — when two or more organisms establish a connection benefitting all parties. Venom has had several hosts over its thirty years but the most notable is Eddie Brock for the similarities they possess.
Understandably, “Venom” and Sony are being ridiculed for this mediocre iteration but it, definitely, has its merits. A standout aspect being the humorous dynamic between Eddie Brock and his match-made in an extra-terrestrial crazed businessman’s laboratory symbiote Venom, the two are presented as budding losers who get off on the wrong foot but tangle amidst the confusion as they struggle to merge with one another in an almost romantic-comedy manner — e.g. Will Smith and Eva Mendes in “Hitch” (2005).
Frustratingly, the action was not a stand-out feature and that’s saying something given this is an action film… Fight sequences were reminiscent of 2000s mishandled superhero films, such as “The Incredible Hulk” and “Fantastic Four”: CGI-heavy and unengaging (by no means am I saying the two comparisons are bad, quite the opposite — they’re classics). The decision to withhold the film from being Rated R has, evidently, curbed the film’s potential, forcing it to be an easily digested and forgotten superhero film — “a turd in the wind,” if you will.
The official tag-line stapled across the film’s posters stated: “The world has enough superheroes”, yet towards the end of the second act there is an unexplained character enlightenment: Venom decides he wants to save the world. However, taking the role of devil’s advocate with context I’m able to filter through the hurried mess in order to empathise with the direction of the film, that’s based on Lethal Protector (1993), but the other part of me can’t stand the frustratingly awful execution.
“Venom” is neither a tragedy nor a triumph it’s tolerable; It doesn’t take itself seriously and doesn’t expect you to either. And the world may have enough heroes but it certainly does not need this film to be associated with it. With that being said I am eagerly anticipating a sequel.