When Sony agreed to allow Spider-Man to return to the MCU, many fans wondered what would happen to other rumored properties, like the Venom solo movie.
That movie was answered this weekend when Sony released Venom to theaters and the results were polarizing — which is no surprise for any movie other than those made specifically by Marvel.
Much like the movies from the DCEU, there were fans who loved Venom and there were fans who hated it. And, as always, the truth lies somewhere in between.
Venom was a movie with structural problems that looks like it went through a lot of cuts in the editing room but it is also a movie that, at the end of the day, is a ton of fun.
For fans who wondered how they were going to show the origin of Venom without Spider-Man, the film did a good job of bringing the symbiote to Earth without bothering with Spidey.
In this version, a company known as the Life Foundation has sent some astronauts into outer space to find alien lifeforms that they call symbiotes and bring them back to Earth. Their goal is to find a way to connect the symbiotes to humans so that they can develop the ability to live in space.
However, the spacecraft crashes and one of the symbiotes escapes. That is ok because they still had other samples and started to pay homeless people to come in and try to match up with it. Most of these people died.
So, how did they get Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) into the story? Well, they did have one line that mentioned something that went wrong in New York that caused him to move to California (and is likely the entire Peter Parker controversy from the comics, although it was not specifically mentioned here).
Now, Eddie is one of the best investigative reporters in San Francisco and likes to bring down corrupt organizations. When he is sent to the Life Foundation, he uses the information he stole from his fiance’s computer to implicate the owner Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) in wrongdoing and lost his job. Since his girlfriend (Michelle Williams) worked for the law firm that represented Drake, she was also fired and dumped Brock.
Now jobless and one step from homeless, Brock is approached by a scientist from the Life Foundation named Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) who feels terrible about all the dead bodies piling up and asks him to investigate. He does, gets infected with the symbiote and becomes Venom.
So, first, let’s look at the positives.
Venom is awesome. The character design looks great and his attitude is both hilarious and demented. We hear Venom talking to Brock inside his head and know that he is going to cause a lot of havoc in the movie.
The stunt coordinating and editing of action scenes is great, highlighted by a car chase where Venom pretty much takes control of the motorcycle and tears through town. There is also a standoff with the police at the Life Foundation that was incredibly well done.
Now, there was a movie earlier this year that worked almost the same way as Venom called Upgrade (read review here). That movie did things much better storywise and the fight scenes in that movie trumped most of the ones in Venom but that doesn’t discount how fun the crazy action scenes in this movie was.
Tom Hardy is fantastic in his role. It is almost like most of the cast knows they are in an action horror movie but Tom Hardy feels like he is in an absurdist dark comedy. His conversations with Venom and his reactions as he grows to get used to the symbiote are just nuts enough. Anyone who saw Hardy in Bronson might know what to expect when he goes all the way crazy in a movie.
There are also things in the movie that are clear winks at the comic book fans, from the mention of New York to the idea of Venom being a protector of the homeless in the comics to characters like Riot and a great post-credit cameo by someone even nuttier than Tom Hardy.
As a matter of fact, Carlton Drake and the Life Foundation comes straight out of the Venom: Lethal Protector comics and the only real disappointment was that Riot was the only symbiote that showed up when Scream could have been so much better.
Back to the movie.
With all that said, there were problems and it was the similar problems that affected The Predator last month. It seems like there are missing scenes from Venom and Tom Hardy said as much in his interviews about the movie where he mentions some of his favorite scenes were cut.
Venom was supposed to be R-rated but Sony chose to tame the film to a PG-13 rating. As a result, there were moments like when Venom decided he was going to be a hero and fight Riot that seemed unearned. It happened suddenly and only had two lines that explained his change of heart.
Surely there were scenes in there that showed his transition from an alien that wanted to help eat everyone on Earth to a Lethal Protector. Those scenes were missing in the final cut of the movie.
Honestly, I heard someone say that it seemed like the movie was written by a 12-year-old and I can agree with that. It is like someone saw everything cool about Venom and wanted to throw it out there, along with juvenile humor and some great sight gags. Add in Tom Hardy acting like a nut, and that is Venom.
I spent most of the movie with a goofy smile on my face and that is all I ask from a movie like Venom. It’s not a masterpiece and isn’t close to the quality of an MCU movie, but it is well worth the watch for someone wanting a fun night at the movies.